21. The Hate-Monger

Fantastic Four Issue Twenty-One 21

Issue Twenty-One

“Observe how my hate-ray machine derives its matchless power by bouncing a beam to the moon and back…a beam that can reach any place on earth!”

The Fantastic Four come across a man called the Hate Monger who is holding rallies in New York. Falling afoul of his H-Ray they start to attack each other. They split up and Reed heads back to base where he meets Nick Fury, who he last saw during WWII. He wants to give the FF a mission in South America, but Reed decides to go alone. Seeing the Pogo Plane depart, the rest of the FF return to the Baxter Building where they meet Nick who manipulates them into following Reed in the mission to San Gusto to invade the Hate Monger’s base. The Hate Monger hears of the FF leaving and follows them. As does Nick. All meeting up in South Africa, Reed has already confronted the Hate Monger and escapes, grabbing a vial of antidote pills to the H-Ray. These he distributes to his teammates and together they face the Hate Monger who apparently dies of a heart attack. They pull off his mask to reveal Adolf Hitler (or possibly his double, they speculate).

Unfortunately, the lesson of the last issue seems to be forgotten as we now have here… another bad guy with a clever gun. This one is a little more entertaining than the last bad-guy-with-a-clever-gun yarn since the gun itself is a little cleverer. It fires ‘H-rays’ of hate which turn the FF against each other. Luckily, an un-eyepatched Nick Fury (agent of the C.I.A.) is on hand to manipulate them into helping each other. The tables, the hate gun, and lastly his own men are successively turned against the Hate-Monger who is shot and killed, revealing himself to be… Adolf Hitler? An inspiring one-panel speech by Mr Fantastic about how America will always stand against hate and intolerance rounds out this tale’s abrupt finish.

It’s another thought balloon and another leap away from gender equality. (“My Feminine Curiosity” would be a great album title, though.)

So it’s an oddly patriotic adventure for the FF this month, which is rather unexpected. The only explanation for it is that with this issue having the cover date of December 1963, and knowing that the cover date didn’t always match up with the actual pub date, this may be the first issue of the FF to be written and drawn after President Kennedy’s assassination. If that is actually the case, then that gives an explanation to the rather hasty and left-field feel of this issue, and adds a layer of meaning to the actions of a man with a gun that manages to sow confusion and discord across the United States. (It still doesn’t explain why exactly Hitler.)

Fantastic Four Issue Twenty-OneThis is also the first villain since Kurrgo, Master of Planet X,  to be undeniably killed at the close of the adventure, which adds to this issue’s quirks.

There are nice elements in this tale (namely Nick Fury already deftly manipulating the world’s greatest heroes to his own ends), but it remains a puzzle. It’s hard to say, in analysis, if one is over- or under-thinking its merits.

EVALUATION: 6/10 Fantastic Four Issue Twenty-One

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