“The Mad Menace Of The Macabre Mole Man” is a 21-page Jack Kirby story from FANTASTIC FOUR #31 , inked by Chic Stone.
The original FF villain, the Mole Man, returns for a third go-round, this time sinking whole city blocks out of New York to his subterranean domain. While the rest of the FF go to investigate, Sue sees a photo of an escaped convict and goes to the police station. The block she’s on is sunk by the Mole Man and she’s taken hostage, and the rest of the team have to rescue her, including a brief side-track of having to keep the Avengers from interfering (as the “Marvel Universe” concept became more common in this era).
The FF escape, only Sue somehow gets injured in an explosion, and only one doctor can save her. It turns out to be the fugitive whose photo Sue was looking at earlier, who it turns out is Franklin Storm, father of Sue and Johnny, believed by most people to be dead. He’s able to save Sue, and we’re promised more on him next issue.
FF was a pretty good book at this point, just on the verge of a big leap in quality to the peak material. I especially like how Kirby was drawing the tech stuff at this time, like the scooters the Mole Man’s army uses, and Reed’s various devices.
Chic Stone inks the cover and story, a few issues into his run as FF inker. While I love Stone’s Thor and X-Men work of the period, his FF didn’t quite work quite as much for me (although he was better than the regular inkers right before and after him). For some reason his FF just doesn’t seem as bold as those other book. The big problem is how Ben Grimm looks in here. Seems a bit sparse, cartoony, without the texture that Sinnott would be bringing a year later, although he’s close to that in a few close-ups. Actually, ignoring how he inks Ben, most of the rest looks pretty decent.
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