For example: today let's spy through the giant alien peepers of Uatu straight into the Baxter Building, where Johnny Storm kicks off the conversation and Sue Richards ably passes the ball to Reed for the exposition on his one, the only, patented...Heat-Image Tracer!
Panel from Fantastic Four (1961 series) #66 (September 1967), co-plot and script by Stan Lee, co-plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Sinnott, letters by Artie Simek
Reed's Heat-Image Tracer detects the faint traces of heat energy in a room, translates them to a video image, and displays them for all to see! So it's literally...wait, no, it's figuratively...a camera into the past!
The main component of the Heat-Image Tracer is mounted on a tripod (a Kirby tripod, mind you) and looks a bit like one of those oversized 1960s TV cameras. But it also has Kirby Krackle, which already makes it a quantum leap beyond the color cameras they're using over at Desilu to film "Amok Time" during the day this story is occurring. And that is why Leonard Nimoy could not answer the call to action sent out by Reed Richards, thus calling into doubt his status as a reserve member of the Fantastic Four. In the background of Alicia's apartment you can spot one of the statues the young blind sculptress is justifiable famous for. This one is titled "The Day Captain Mar-Vell Lost a Contact Lens."
In addition to the main camera-like component, the Heat-Image Tracer (or H.I.T.!) also sports an early version of the television remote control, so Reed Richards can relax on his unstable molecule couch at the same time he's watching heat imagery from the past. That thing takes 72 "D" batteries, and eventually Reed had to put one of those little screws on the battery compartment so that Franklin would stop taking the batteries to power H.E.R.B.I.E. Also needed: a screen. Why, I bet Reed Richards has a big-ass technological screen to project heat images on, probably something that stretches into the fourth dimension so that he can fold it up and keep it next to his pocket handkerchief and his keys to the Fantasti-Car.
Oh, wait...the screen is just a piece of posterboard that Alicia picked up at Pearl Paint on Canal Street. (Please, nobody tell her it's white...she thought she was buying pink posterboard.) Speaking of color: not only does the H.I.T. accurately pick up the images and actions from the room, but the colors. That's how much of a genius Reed Richards is: giving you crystal- (not to be confused with Crystal) clear transmission of Alicia's neon green couch and orange and coral throw pillows. Really, someone ought to gently suggest to her that she should take Sue with her when she goes shopping for home furnishings.
So that's what happened to the missing Alicia Masters...she was kidnapped by Jason Todd, The Red Hood! You know, I never trusted that kid.
Well, that solves the Mystery of the Missing Alicia. And he woulda gotten it away with it too, if it wasn't for those meddling superheroes and their pesky Heat-Image Tracer.
Unlike some of Reed's KirbyTech, the Heat-Image Tracer doesn't get shoved into that broom closet in the Negative Zone or sold on eBay by Johnny, as it actually pops up again. Its amazing appearance is in Ms. Marvel #24, a comic that does not exist.
Splash page from "Cry, Vengeance!" in Marvel Super-Heroes (1990 series) #11 (October 1992), script by Chris Claremont and Simon Furman, pencils and inks by Mike Vosburg and Mike Gustovich, colors by Heidi Goodhue, letters by Jim Novak
I tell a lie...well, actually I tell an eensy-weensy tiny little white fib just for the sake of humor. (So I am not going to the place with the devils and the pitchforks.) This story was intended for the never-published Ms. Marvel #24 in 1979 (the book was cancelled with #23), but was eventually done for the anthology book Marvel Super-Heroes in 1992. Ah-ha! So it's a clip show.
Here, at least, the images don't show up in color. It's in Orangina-Vision! Oh, and yeah, there's Mystique murdering Carol's BFF. Whoa, that's got to be awkward for Iron Man. I'm sure he's thinking right now "Why didn't Reed send Ben out with this thing? I could've been hang-gliding right now."
The Heat-Image Tracer: the miracle machine that always works! Except, um, when it doesn't. For example, I doubt it would be that good at figuring out where Iceman had gone. Also, having the Human Torch around is likely to confuse the picture. Here's a later cameo appearance by a modified flying version of the H.I.T. that isn't working to find the lost Inhumans. So that's it, then: Black bolt and Medusa were kidnapped by polar bears.
Panels from The Inhumans (2000 four-issue limited series) #2 (July 2000), script by Carlos Pacheco and Rafael Marin, pencils and inks by José Ladronn, colors by Studio F, letters by Richard Starkings and Wes Abbott
So there you go: the utter and total unexpurgated history of Reed Richards's Heat-Image Tracer in comic books. But wait, here's one more appearance of the H.I.T. from the Fantastic Four animated series! (The bad version.)
from Fantastic Four "Worlds within Worlds" (October 1995), story by Steve Granat and Cydne Clark, script by David Ehrman, directed by Myrna Bushman
The Heat-Image Tracer, everybody! Let's all give it a big hand! And thank it for bringing along those clips.
Hey, do you remember when I mentioned at the top of this post how one piece of KirbyTech can lead you right to the next? (Only if you've read this far, I bet.) Well, you prob'bly noticed that guy taking Alicia away in living color H.I.T.-vision, right?
Well...didja notice this?
So, tomorrow: find out how you can use KirbyTech to make those cool Silly Band Bracelets all the kids are so into! Or, something like that. Be here or be in the Negative Zone and thus miss it!