Our comprehensive Secret Invasion coverage begins here.
Title: Fantastic Four #2
Author: Stan Lee
Illustrator(s): Jack Kirby is the only one credited
Original Publication Date: Cover dated January, 1962
Shapeshifting aliens who call themselves the Skrulls assume the identities of the Fantastic Four to commit crimes. The real Fantastic Four have to solve the mystery to clear themselves, and prevent the full scale Skrull invasion. They do so by assuming the identities of the aliens, and reporting to the invasion force that Earth is too well defended (by creatures seen in comic book clippings) to be invaded. The invasion fleet leaves, and the captive Skrulls are hypnotized into believing they are cows.
At this early stage in the series, the Thing was still bitter and lamenting his condition. That gives this a feel that hasn’t really been repeated by any other comic book team I’ve run across.
The actual method of defeat, showing the invaders clips from “Strange Tales” and “Journey Into Mystery,” is wholly unconvincing. When the dialogue clearly states that the fourth invader returned with the rest (which seems to be a comment to explain an art error), it really begs the question of why the FF thought the Skrulls were really fooled.
For the time, this was quite original in its depiction of the team dynamic. (Even by today’s standards it’s a pretty rare thing.) The Skrulls themselves, though, were pretty shallow creatures, moving little past the Invasion of the Body Snatchers archetype. I give it 4 out of 6.
The artwork by Jack Kirby is generally good. Characters didn’t always stay on model, and backgrounds often weren’t very detailed, but you know exactly what’s going on. I give it 4 out of 6.
The story gets off to a strong start, carries that momentum through the middle of the tale, and then collapses with a weak ending. I give it 4 out of 6.
The characterization of the FF is very well done, quickly establishing the personalities of the four. The Skrulls are still pretty shallow at this point, though. I give it 4 out of 6.
The emotional response is directly related to the story; it’s strong for most of what we’ve got, and then crashes at the end when the “solution” is revealed. I give it 4 out of 6.
The flow of the story is the category in which Jack Kirby’s art really shines. Individual panels may not look great, but the man certainly knew how to tell a story with pictures alone. I give it 6 out of 6.
Overall, it’s a standard Silver Age adventure with highly non-standard team dynamics added to the mix. I give it 4 out of 6.
In total, Fantastic Four #2 receives 30 out of 42.
Additional Notes and Comments
The large scale document intended to detail every issue that has anything to do with Secret Invasion can be found at this address. Expect that to be updated more frequently than reviews are written.