Issue #89: History of the Fantastic Four and Off The Beaten Path


Issue #89: History of the Fantastic Four and Off The Beaten Path | Comic Book Podcast | Talking Comics

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Our fearless leader, Bobby, is away for some rather fancy business so we are bringing you a shortened show that’s not our regular thing, but we hope you will enjoy it nonetheless.

This week we bring you an oral history of the Fantastic Four with Mr. Bob Reyer and even though we  don’t really have Books of the Week so instead, we decide to take you Off the Beaten Path and introduce you to some comics that we haven’t talked about on the show yet. I won’t spoil anything for you, but take a listen and learn about some new comics that you may or may not want to check out in the future.

Annnnnnnnnnd… we say it on the show, but just in case you missed it, the Talking Comics crew on Twitter are:

Bobby: @bobbyshortle
Steve: @dead_anchoress
Stephanie: @hellocookie
And Bob’s email is

FYI: the crew have gone all superhero on the world, thanks to the wonderful Hanie Mohd. Like them? Make sure to follow her and let us know what you think of our new superhero pictures.

The Comic Book Podcast is brought to you by Talking Comics (, a blog dedicated to covering the latest and greatest in comic book releases. The editorial staff is composed of Editor-in-Chief Bobby Shortle (Fanboy Remix, Doctor Whocast), Stephanie Cooke (Misfortune Cookie) and Steve Seigh ( contributor) who weekly dissect the releases and give you, the consumer, a simple Roman yay or nay regarding them. Our Twitter handle is @TalkingComics and you can email us at

18 thoughts on “Issue #89: History of the Fantastic Four and Off The Beaten Path

  1. Gentle Listeners,

    As my dotage increases, many bits of information seem to go missing from my memory, and inevitably just as I actually need to tell you about them! (Don’t chuckle too hard; it might happen to you some day!)

    This week for example, during our “Off the Beaten Path” segment, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name of David Singer, the Deluxe Comics executive who during the Eighties published 5 issues of…Ooops–almost spoiled the surprise!

    (Move along, nothing to see here!)
    ps) Apologies in advance for any errors during my Fantastic Four segment! rrr

  2. Bob, you remain a legend. The history of the Fantastic Four segment was great.
    Brilliant podcast as ever, glad to see that I can still get my fix, even if Bobby is off galavanting around the world.

    I also have to say, thanks for answering my question about, directors taking on comicbook movies. Great answers all round. And as someone who was taken in by the Orson Welles April fool back in the day, I agree with you on that one.

    Finally, to answer the eternal question, Yes, Tiger Lawyer can successfully defend Monacled Bear, unless it’s a Kangaroo Court.

    1. Well, how nice of you to say, Mr. Purple–thank you!

      The Mark Millar “Orson Welles & The Batman” piece was a masterful bit of chicanery that Mr. Welles himself would have appreciated. For me as a “Wellesian”, the relationships between the players and the dates involved all made sense. It wasn’t until someone pointed out that the Riddler wouldn’t appear in the pages of a DC comic until some months after these “casting choices”, that the hoax fell apart!

      Would Tiger Lawyer wear a sharkskin jacket?

  3. Hawkguy shouldn’t be a movie. It should be a weekly TV show, with every episode starting with Captain America leaving a message on Clint’s answering machine.

  4. Okay, one last pun. Yes, because he’s a snappy dresser.

    Now, back onto topic.
    On the question of how many times the Baxter Building has moved, I think an honourable mention has to go out to Gladiator of the Shi’ar. For lifting it!

    1. So I’m guessing that he’d wear a turtleneck sweater underneath it?

      Gladiator does lift the Baxter Building in issue #249, but Reed comments at the time that “It isn’t possible! The building should collapse!” or some such. In issue #250, Reed deduces that the Shi’ar warrior is using some kind of psychic or telekinetic ability to keep the building from breaking apart, making Gladiator the Roger Clemens of the super-hero world—he cheated!

    1. Thank you Lauren!

      (…and thanks to Bobby and our listeners for asking such great questions, too!)

      Your positive review means a lot, as I often feel that I must come off as that pompous history teacher whose class you couldn’t wait to skip!

      Obediently yours,
      Cranky Old Uncle Bob

  5. Everyone, this was a great podcast! Bob, thanks for going over the history of the Fantastic Four. It’s a comic I’ve always sort of read an issue or two here or there, but never really followed, so this was a perfect overview. Any chance of doing something similar for Captain America, going back to his origin just before WWII? I’m especially interested in the “lost years” in the late 40’s before they stopped publishing him the first time and in the 1950’s during the abortive attempt to revive him. When they brought him back in Avengers #4 all of that went away, and he disappeared at the end of WWII. How much of that was based on what was actually published at the end of WWII? What were the stories from the decanonized time period like?


    1. Ethan,

      Thanks for the “thumbs up”! It’s greatly appreciated!

      I think that your idea for a “History of Captain America” show is a winner, and something we will probably do–or should have done for July 4th!! Since it may take a while to get to, let me give you a thumbnail sketch of what happened with the Star-Spangled Avenger!

      After WW II, Timely struggled with crafting good Captain America stories; after all, how many years of “hidden Nazi troops” tales can you tell? Fighting generic “criminals” had little spice, so even after giving Cap a new partner in Golden Girl in 1947, and then having the book become “Captain America’s Weird Tales” for a couple of issues, Timely cancelled Cap, and everything else super-heroic.

      Stan Lee would bring back Captain America (Namor and the Torch, too!) in 1953’s Young Men #24, and it reads as if it’s Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes returning to action to combat the now “Red Menace” Red Skull! The stories, mostly of the Communist-bashing type (it was the 50s!) would run through a few isues of Young Men, and two (?) issues of a re-launched solo book before Cap and Bucky disappeared again.

      Captain America would return (sort of) in the November 1963 Strange Tales #114, fighting Johnny Storm’s Human Torch on a great Jack Kirby cover! It wasn’t the real Cap, but a villain called The Acrobat using Cap’s identity to commit crimes! After the Torch captures him, Johnny goes home to read his old “Captain America Comics”, and wonders “What ever did become of him?”, followed by this caption by Stan: “You guessed it! This story was a test! To see if you too would like Captain America to return! As usual, your letters will give us the answer!”

      Just a few short months later would come Avengers #4 and “Captain America Joins The Avengers!”, and Stan’s stirring tale of Bucky’s death near the end of WW II, which of course totally ignored all those post-War stories. I’ve heard Stan joke that he just forgot there were other Cap stories, but whether on purpose or not, it was a great way to re-introduce the character as a symbol for those earlier times.

      Other writers wouldn’t forget, and in what might be the greatest story in Cap’s long history, writer Steve Englehart and artist Sal Buscema would introduce the “Cap of the Fifties” in Captain America #153-156 in 1972. In that story, a man who idolized Cap, and concerned with the rise of Communism, trains himself and a young partner to be the new “Captain America & Bucky”, and volunteers for a super-soldier project. They don’t get the Vita-rays, and end up as insane bigots and bullies, and are put into suspended animation, where they stay until a government worker, upset with “liberals and hippies”, thaws them out to make things right! (Mr. Englehart would use slightly-rewritten pages from Young Men #24 to help tell his story!)

      In 1977, Roy Thomas would plug the rest of Stan’s memory gap with What If? #4, an in-canon tale of a post-war replacement “Captain America” named William Nasland, the former Spirit of ’76. This ret-con states that it is Nasland who appears in the late 40s Cap stories, at least until another tragedy that would put yet another substitute, this time Jeff Mace aka The Patriot, into the stars’n’stripes (and the All-Winners Squad!) until the end of Cap’s run in 1950.

      Ethan, sorry to have run off-the-rails rambling here, but I just couldn’t stop! I hope this clears up some stuff, although I might have made you spend some shekels!


      1. Thanks, Bob! That’s exactly what I wanted to know. It turns out I have that issue of What If? If it’s the same issue I’m thinking of, it’s “What If The Invaders Had Stayed Together After World War II?” Of course, I haven’t read it in 20 years or more, but I may dig it out, now. I may put those CA issues on my list for convention season.

        1. Ethan,

          That is the What If? issue exactly! That story does “count” by the way; it’s part of the “Cap Chronology”!

          The “Cap of the Fifties” has been reprinted in a couple of formats, and it is well worth the effort to search out!

          Glad I could help!

  6. Bob, as a rabid fan of the Fantastic Four I was absolutely impressed with your recount of the FF’s history. You have the voice and delivery of a true historian. I would go so far to say that you belong on the hostory channel with your own comic book version of Masterpiece Theater! LOL. As always great show, and we will be recommending this podcast on our next podcast at (Kelly Sue Deconnick listens to us btw and we are only 2 episodes young. I’ll tell her to listen to you guys as well.) Take it easy!

    1. Bradley,

      Thank you very much for the nice review!

      Your TV idea is intriguing; in my mind’s eye, I can picture a set looking very much like Sherlock Holmes’ 221-B Baker Street lodgings with weird stuff strewn about, and your Obedient Servant holding court with a snifter of brandy at the ready! (I think though that I have more the face for radio!)

      Here at Talking Comics we have twice been fortunate enough to have had the delightful Ms. DeConnick as our guest, and she will be back during our “Women in Comics Week” this year. Of course, that doesn’t mean she listens to us–heck, I don’t either! (I will this week though, for our “Talking Comics Radio Theatre Special”!!)

      Belated “Happy Birthday” Kelly Sue!

      1. That’s right I remembered soon after I posted that you guys had her on as a guest, but I couldn’t see an edit button. I think she listens to podcasts fairly regularly while working, like I do, as it is a great way to fill the silence. Looking forward to the Special!

        1. Bradley, No worries!

          If the “Radio Theatre” episode is half-as-much fun for you folks listening as it was for us recording…then we’ll have enjoyed it twice as much as you guys? That can’t be right, can it?

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