138. Madness is… the Miracle Man

Fantastic Four 138 Cover

Issue One Hundred and Thirty-Eight, Oct. 1973

“You need further proof? Look, then fools — and rue the day you saw me anew, for in truth — it has been the last day of your all-too-pitiable lives!

Returning from their last mission, the Fantastic Four arrive to find Wyatt Wingfoot in their headquarters. He is set to graduate college that day and invites the FF to witness it. While they are there, Wyatt receives word that his tribe is in danger and the FF head out to the Keewazi Tribe Reservation, to find that a newly powered and costumed Miracle Man is causing havoc. They doubt his powers which incites him into rage and he causes an apparent tectonic rift which swallows them and the majority of the Keewazi people.

There’s a slight pick-up here after the disappointing lack of quality in the last few issues, although this issue isn’t with its eye-rolling moments.

The upside is that we get to see Wyatt Wingfoot again, who is always an interesting character. He is strong and silent, yet affectionate and capable. For a man without super powers, he is extremely unflappable and never the victim. For a minority character, if these are all conscious character trends and developments, then they are very deft ones. It shows that a Native American character does not need help in being saved from difficulties in his life, and that he always adds positively to the lives of those he interacts with. It could be said that the handling of the other Native American characters is two-dimensional and stereotyped, but at this point in a very low ebb of writing — and this applies across the board to comics in the early 1970s — every character is two-dimensional and stereotyped, white as well as non-white. The Keewazi tribe is congruent with everyone else in the narrative tapestry, and it’s actually nice to see them again after 56 issues.Fantastic Four 138

The Cheemuzwa are a compelling addition to the Marvel Universe, and it is hoped that we may see more of them in some other aspect. A big disappointment is the return of Miracle Man, last seen all the way back in issue three when he defeated Mister Fantastic with a brick. Back then the book was still trying to shed its monster-driven stories behind, and a man who could hypnotize people into seeing any number of them had appeal. Now, however, such abilities don’t cut it (although to be fair it could be argued that they didn’t then either). Back then he was temporarily blinded and when he regained his sight he did not regain his powers of hypnotism (I know… what?). He read some books and talking to some ghostly Native Americans and managed to gain powers almost identical to those he previously possessed, although he now claims that they are real. Where he got his form-fitting costume, however, is not revealed. It is an extremely unflattering and uninspiring affair made of black tights and white cape ensemble. No doubt he picked it himself because, balding and gawky, the black seems self-consciously chosen to minimize any detailing of his own awkward physique and his massive cape could have been chosen to help further mask the same. Miracle Man obviously lacks confidence. He also, as yet, lacks motivation, but here we see him nonetheless, shouting on a hilltop and ostensibly moving the geography around with light beams from his fingertips.

Something has to be up with this because he also claims to have defeated the ghostly, ethereal tribe that gave him his powers buy using them to bury their incorporeal bodies beneath a pile of rocks. We’ll have to read on to the next issue if we are to find out if all of this coheres into something meaningful for our characters, or anyone at all.

A decidedly mixed bag.


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