Rounding off the last of four guest-star appearances is the X-men. THE FANTASTIC FOUR, at this time, was the top-selling Marvel book at this time, as well as the longest-running non-anthology (Journey Into Mystery/Tales of Suspense) title. The X-men were relatively new on the scene.
By today’s standards, this tale is by-the-numbers. I’m not completely familiar with the historical comicbook narrative context, or what was happening at the “Distinguished Competition” at this time, but the lured-into-a-fight-under-mistaken-pretenses hasn’t been used in this book with two heroes (I’m saying that Hulk in issue 12 was just caught in the middle, and not the part of a plot against either the hero or the group).It’s also nice to see some returning FF baddies. That’s not the first time I’ve mentioned that, and I don’t know why I keep mentioning it except that villains are naturally a large part of any hero, and the FF’s are so peculiar, and so many of them stuck from such early on. Whether that’s because they were suited, or if it shows the regard that future creative teams held Lee/Kirby — or the lack of their originality, we may have opportunity to find here.
In any case, Puppet Master and Mad Thinker (plus Awesome Andy!) , and The X-men could make this a very crowded issue, and it’s a credit to Lee and Kirby that it reads as smoothly as it does, and each character their own voice. Whatever you make of Lee’s scripting abilities, I can tell you that it’s no easy skill making two intellectually verbose characters such as The Beast and Reed Richards sound differently when fighting each other.
By-the-numbers notwithstanding, it is an issue that displays much skill, but not much invention.