7. The Master of Planet X

Issue Seven, Oct. 1962

Issue Seven, Oct. 1962

“Fool! You know we have only two spaceships on Planet X! For we have never cared for space travel!”

Planet X is about to be destroyed by an asteroid, and so Kurrgo, its leader, sends an android to Earth to persuade the Fantastic Four to come and devise a plan to save them. It finds the FF by using a sonic device to make everyone hate them and therefore following the commotion. Threatening not to turn the machine off until they come and help him, the FF agree and arrive on Planet X. Reed uses his scientific abilities to make a shrinking gas that will shrink the entire population of the world small enough so that they can fit into the planet’s last remaining spaceship and escape. Kurrgo’s greed for power leaves him the only one with the enlarging gas capsule, but he is so hampered by it that he fails to make it to the spaceship before launch. It is then revealed that Reed never made a remedy, that the citizens of Planet X will be stuck in miniature forever. He ends with the comment that size is relative.

This is a poor effort. The only excuse for it is that it’s not really an FF story — it seems to be a bastardized sci-fi short from Amazing Adult Fantasy. It should be a five-page feature so that all of the plot-holes can be glossed over.That Reed manages, within 24 hours, to create a shrinking gas that can shrink objects to a 1000th of their size can marginally be accepted, since this is the sort of thing he frequently does. And he uses this device on… the population of Planet X. Why not the asteroid?

As anxious to finish this story as the rest of us.

It’s  fairly ridiculous, really — but slightly understandable. Eight issues in, the creators are still showing trepidation at the nature of the superhero dynamic, and are casting back a line to the short, moralizing, Sci-Fi stories that had for the last decade been the industry’s bread and butter. It even has the robot from The Day The Earth Stood Still in it.

This issue is a huge failure as a story, both in terms of plot and character — Reed displays near genocidal tendencies at the end of the story — but as a cultural artifact it is very amusing.

In terms of actual Fantastic Four lore, however, the only thing worth noting is that this is the FF’s first proper off-planet adventure. Also, this is reputedly the only issue in which Jack Kirby inked the cover as well as penciled it, and so it has been scrutinized as the definitive Kirby model of how the characters should look. Similarities between Reed and Kirby himself have been pointed out, and furthermore, the Thing is displayed as being more rocky than muddy — his skin is starting to crystallize apparently.


The cold, glassy stare of a crazed sociopath. Life lesson: screw Mr Fantastic over, and he’ll screw you over one better.

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