By the time I was eight, I'd realised a marker pen was a wonderful thing. For one thing, you could sit there smelling it - although you had to give up after a while, as you started to get dizzy - and, for the other, you could use it to join the dots on the Invisible Girl.
For those unaware of the significance of the Invisible Girl's dots, way back in the weekly Mighty World of Marvel reprints of the early 1970s, jolly Jack Kirby used to get round the problem of how to let us see an invisible character by drawing her with dotted instead of full lines. "Well," I reasoned, if being dotted meant her foes couldn't see her, then joining those dots meant she'd no longer be invisible and the enemies of the Fantastic Four could find her and kill her.
Now, this may seem a mean thing to do but, even at that tender age, I'd decided Sue Storm was a bit of a useless article. All she ever seemed to do, for issue after issue, in those tales was get kidnapped and have to be rescued. On top of that, there was the whole Reed vs Sub-Mariner thing with her. Catch yourself on, love, you're supposed to be a good guy. Stop lusting after someone who wants to destroy the human race - especially one who's half fish - and find yourself a proper boyfriend.
So, you can imagine my delight when I got the Fantastic Four #139 home from Sheffield's Sheaf Market and discovered Sue Storm was no longer a member of the world's greatest super-team.
Instead, she'd been replaced by Medusa.
Now, as an adult, I can see that Medusa's power - being able to trip people up with her hair - wasn't any better than Sue's power of invisibility and, given that she was in the habit of wearing a halter-neck top, despite being a well-endowed woman with a lot of running about to do, clearly wasn't of a very practical bent either but I didn't care. When it came down to it, useless power aside, there was always something more kick-ass about her than Sue.
She wasn't the only one because this issue featured someone else gone kick-ass; the Miracle Man. I knew of the Miracle Man from those reprints and knew his miracles were no more than hypnosis. From that we were supposed to view him as a fraud - although hypnosis seemed as valid a super-power as any to me. Still, a fraud he was declared to be and a fraud was how we were meant to see him. But here, somehow, by means never really explained, hanging around with Wyatt Wingfoot's tribe had made him all-powerful. Needless to say, being all-powerful didn't stop him quickly getting his come-uppance again, this time at that hands of those self-same Indians who were now giant ghosts.
The other great thrill for me was the tale was drawn by John Buscema. If someone forced me to name my favourite comic book artist of all time, I'd have to go for Buscema. He might not have been an innovator like Kirby or Adams, or have put in the care and attention of a Barry Smith - and he might have had an alarming tendency to not be able to remember anything at all about any of the comics he'd drawn - but his work was just so easy on the eye that, heretical as it might be, I do enjoy actually enjoy reading his FF and Thor tales more than the Kirby ones.
Anything else about this tale stand out for me?
The Human Torch.
His costume was red.
It might not seem important now but, for a kid, that was more than enough to seal the deal.
Top of the Pops: 15th December, 1977.
5 months ago