Comics : Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #21

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: From The Beginning

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

Here is a Spidey appearance so small that we missed it the first time around. Check out page 2 panel 3 for the only sighting of the web-slinger. And, meanwhile, the FF has an adventure, too.

In Detail...

"The Hate-Monger!"
Fantastic Four (Vol. 1) #21
Dec 1963 : SM Reference
Summary: Spider-Man Reference (picture on dartboard)
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Jack Kirby
Inker:  George Roussos
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 Reprinted In: Essential Fantastic Four #2
 Reprinted In: Fantastic Four Omnibus #1
Articles: Human Torch

The Fantastic Four are at home in the Baxter Building each doing their own thing. Mr. Fantastic is involved in scientific experiments. The Invisible Girl is trying on wigs. The Thing is working out on a steel punching bag. And the Human Torch is in his room, throwing flame-darts at his dartboard. Taped to the center of the dartboard is a picture of Spider-Man. "I know this is just kid stuff, but I get a real kick out of tossing fire-darts at that swell-headed Spider-Man!" he says.

Later, the FF go out for a walk and encounter the Hate-Monger, a fascist orator dressed in an outfit that looks like a purple version of the Ku Klux Klan tunic and hood. He has stormtrooper types standing around him holding up torches. The Thing is so appalled by the hate being spewed in the speech that he knocks the Hate-Monger's grandstand down. But HM shoots his powerful H-Ray ("H" for "Hate") at the FF and turns them against each other.

Even though they all now hate each other, the FF join up with Nick Fury (in his first ever non-World War II appearance) to travel to the "Republic of San Gusto" in South America to take on the Hate-Monger. There amidst stereotypical South American jungles and stereotypical South American banditos, they battle a fascist army, locate and take the antidote to the H-Ray and witness the Hate-Monger being killed by his own men. When they unmask him, they discover that the Hate-Monger is actually Adolf Hitler! (I kid you not!) Though they have to admit they don't know if he's the real Hitler or one of the many doubles reputed to exist, they do know one thing. His demise leaves the world with less prejudice and hate.

In General...

Even by early Silver Age standards, this one is out there. Forget that stuff about the Hate-Monger being one of Hitler's doubles or what may have been done with the Hate-Monger character later, the revelation of the Hate-Monger's identity in this issue is just weird enough to be worth the price of admission. The transition of Nick Fury between the Howling Commandos and SHIELD is fun, too. And Kirby's artwork is, as always, great. But, the rest of the issue is fairly routine and the South American stereotypes are downright embarrassing, especially considering the central theme of "brotherhood".

Overall Rating...

Three webs.