"The Fantastic Four Battle the Mad Thinker and His Awesome Android!"
The Fantastic Four #15
Written by Stan Lee
Pencils by Jack Kirby
Inks by Dick Ayers
A fairly mediocre outing for the Four this month as they butt heads with the biggest head of all; The Thinker. Posing himself as some sort of modern Nostradamus with the aid of a fantastic computerised thinking device, The Thinker contests to knowing every little detail of the immediate future, right down to when hotdog vendors will wheel away their carts and thus thwart the cops from chasing him down after a robbery. It’s determinism gone mad. You can see right away that this “power” or ability, makes The Thinker a pretty formidable opponent, yet not enough is done with his backstory to make him have either a feasible motive, nor the intelligence to come up with such an elaborate piece of machinery. It’s an interesting concept, sure, and one that I’ve always toyed with—but Lee never seems to let himself get bogged down in the details, or make any convincing moves with them. Instead it’s served as a wacky gimmick, and nothing more.
What he in turn uses this power for is to somehow lure the FF out of the city, and thus render much of New York and the Baxter Building defenceless and up for the taking. It’s all done in a way which is contrived, but not to the point where all credibility is lost. The thing with these Fantastic Four comics is that much of them feel the need to go through how each of the characters are affected by any given event. Sure, it helps establish them as individuals, but by now it’s getting predictable to the point where you just want to skip past the next four panels.
In the end The Thinker's dubious downfall comes in failing to predict the elusive “X-Factor”, or, “the Human Factor” when Reed somehow beats The Thinker at his own game and plans ahead of time in the event of a takeover of his building. It’s ambiguous at best, and feels unsatisfying—especially since much of his plans involving human interaction beforehand went ahead without problems. But, you know, the story had to end—and how else was the Fantastic Four going to beat the odds of determinism?
Overall, a spotty issue, but still not bad. A shining beacon of light still, within the somewhat murky state of Marvel’s current line-up.
Way ahead of you, hippies.
MY SCORE: 5.0 (out of 10)