93. At the Mercy of Torgo

Issue Ninety-Three, December 1969

“C’mon, Torgo! We’ll find a way to beat this rap!” “Impossible! Only our deaths will end the great games!” 

Ben and the metal alien Torgo’s battle can be put off no longer and they enter the arena and begin fighting. Reed, Johnny, and Crystal meanwhile are following their trail in deepest space. Ben and Torgo fight, each one gaining the upper hand by turn, but eventually Torgo has Ben at his mercy. He refuses to kill him, however, and at the moment when the Skrulls are about to destroy his home planet, and earth, Crystal destroys the Sonic Disruptor with “shock waves”. The Fantastic Four escape the planet as the freed slaves go on a violent rampage against their enslavers.

The final installment of the tale ends consistently, considering the set-up. It is up to the reader’s discretion to decide how much they will hold the niggles of the story against the creators. Because really, all the stereotypes that typify the comics of the 60s (and this issue is the very last of that decade) are here: overly verbose and transparent dialogues, contrived environments and antagonists, and a rather arbitrary denouement.Fantastic Four Issue Ninety-Three 93To elaborate: Reed sends Johnny into an outer space vacuum in order that his flame might illuminate an “invisible radiation trail that all Skrull spacecraft leave behind”. And he just manages to stumble upon it. From there it is apparently a very short gambol to the Skrull planet Ben happens to be fighting on because they make landfall before his battle is even over.  And they also have enough time to find disguises, learn enough about the culture to subvert the social structure enough to allow them ingress to the arena. They arrive just as Torgo and Ben make a break for the “Sonic Disruptor” and destroy it so that they don’t have to. All the reasons given in the last issue for why they couldn’t do that have apparently been forgotten (see last review for a critique of the physics of said Sonic Disruptor).

Fantastic Four Issue Ninety-Three 93


But I mean it seriously when I say it is up to the reader’s discretion to decide on how much this would bother them. Put forward today, it is an overly-long, rather nonsensical story that would not be published. At the same time, there’s an admirable audaciousness about it, because in its own context, it is a fairly typical block of the might Lee/Kirby run and therefore has historical interest in being fairly representative. For the purposes of this review site however, I cannot make that concession.


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