Tuesday, January 08, 2013

FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3

I loved this comic when I was a kid. Classic Kirby.

What's amazing is to look at the cover and all of those fantastic characters that appealed to so many kids primed for the kinds of superhero comic books that only Jack Kirby could create, write, and illustrate.

Of the crowd of characters on that cover Jack Kirby created all but four. The few there who were created by other writers or artists were:

Kid Colt Outlaw, created by Pete Tumlinson and Jack Keller.


Sub-Mariner, created by Bill Everett.

Spider-Man, created by Steve Ditko.

The Human Torch, created by Carl Burgos.

Daredevil is featured, but as he was based on character sketches by Jack Kirby (and name stolen from the Lev Gleason character created by Jack Binder, one of the amazing Binder brothers). So it could be said that the Marvel Comics character Daredevil was co-created by Jack Binder, Jack Kirby, and Bill Everett.

This particular issue was a promotions bonanza for Marvel Comics. First of all, it featured the wedding of two of the members of the Fantastic Four: Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) and Susan Storm (the Invisible Girl). Using the wedding, Kirby was able to concoct a story wherein almost every major comic book superhero and supervillain managed to make at least a one-panel appearance. It was a brilliant marketing tactic and amazed many a comic fan (including me). I'm sure a lot of kids who weren't buying some of the titles featuring some of the other heroes were spurred to start picking up those other books.

It remains one of the single favorite of the comic books of my childhood. Pure Kirby, all Kirby, nothing but Kirby.

My copy of FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3.


9 comments:

Henry R. Kujawa said...

Would you believe? My 1st Marvel!!! What a place to come in.


I got ahold of this a couple months after the debut of the 1967 FF cartoon show. In there, Reed & Sue were already married. So I got to see how it happen.


The reprints in the back of the book were my intro to SUB-MARINER. Oddly enough, I still consider that one of, if not the, best Subby stories of the entire period. It's because Namor is shown to be so multi-dimensional. Unlike many stories, where he just flies off the handle, he's mostly calm in this one. You're not quite sure-- good guy or baddie? Or a little of both? As a result, he comes across MUCH more sympathetic than usual, especially after that intro where he's happily swimming with the dolphins. And he does single-handedly save the say at the end. I have to say, I was probably disappointed by MOST stories featuring him after I read this one.


My favorite moment in the wedding story involves Daredevil. He single-handedly tackles Hydra (and, it took me decades to notice, they sub-contracted the job, and employed some of the Hate-Monger's men while they were at it!!!). He drives the truck to the waterfront, where, at that exact moment, ATTUMA'S FLEET is about to invade. He dives from the truck, saying the bomb will "explode harmlessly". YEAH. RIGHT!!! Hilarious!!!!!


I suspect the actual creation of Daredevil may explain why Stan had no F****** idea how to handle the character or what to do with him. Name from one place, costume from another, powers from another-- and I have no doubt BILL EVERETT did the bulk of the work there. But Everett left after only ONE episode. Joe Orlando, despite having a lo of talent, did 3 of the WORST comics of the 1960's. Terrible on every single level-- even before Vince Colletta put the final kibosh on them. Next up, Wally Wood-- BRILLIANT. Naturally, the MMMS crowd totally dismisses him, saying it's "dull', "static", and harping on Wood being both an alcoholic and a suicide. A**H***S. John Romita comes along, but it takes at least 4 issues before the book begins to make any sense at all, and I think I figured out why when I noticed that Wally Wood, before he left Marvel, intended to do a story set in a "lost world". (It would have been Namor, not DD, but, same difference.) So DD as a book never really settles down to what it wants to be until GENE COLAN, of all people comes along. From that point, the book never made much sense, but at least it was "FUN". Until Roy replaced Stan, then it got morose.


Despite all I just said, I'd rather read Wally Wood than Frank Miller ANYDAY. (I've read Miller's run once. I've read Wood's 3 times.)

James Robert Smith said...

Wood was a comic book genius. At the top of the top of the finest. It's no wonder he couldn't work with Stan Lee.

Kirby's Namor was actually superior to Everett's Namor. I hate to say that, because Everett created the character and who am I to say the creator's version isn't as good as Kirby's. To put it another way, I enjoyed the way Kirby handled the character. Kirby's Namor was a much more nuanced and creative use of the anti-hero theme.

Always loved the way DD accidentally halts Attuma's advance. Perfectly Kirby.

Kirk G said...

I never got to read this issue until years later when it was reprinted. I always thought the cover was nothing more than a house ad. I was so susprised to discover it was the actual cover! And now that I look at it once again, I am starting to see that everyone is not decending upon the FF in the center (as I remembered it) but they are advancing on poor Doctor Doom in the bottom right hand corner of the cover! Take a look! Will wonders never cease!

James Robert Smith said...

Kirby was a bright guy!

Kirk G said...

I recall when FF #52 was supposed to come out, there was a space reserved in the house ads, but a large starburst blocked the artwork and promoted the newest surprise from the House of Ideas. Does anyone know if this was due to last minute art changes on the cover, or was this a calculated publicity ploy? For YEARS, I had no idea what kind of a cover image I was searching for in yard sales, used comic boxes, barber shops, old grocery stores, etc. I finally found a copy in a BAIT STORE at Hougton Lake, Michigan for a dime!

James Robert Smith said...

Not sure. As far as I know The Black Panther was the first African superhero at Marvel (or anywhere else), so they may have come up with that as a kind of mildly aggressive ad campaign.

Kirk G said...

The way DD stops Attuma's legions reminded me a great deal of the fight between the Thing and the Hulk, when the Yancy Street Gang roll a garbage truck backwards down the hill to the river and "scoop them both up" to give Ben a break. At least, it reminds ME of that scene.

Kid said...

Believe it or not, I actually restored/re-created this cover for the first printing of Marvel Masterworks which reprinted the tale.

James Robert Smith said...

@Kid: Very cool!

@Kirk: Yeah, Kirby would reuse ideas. He had to...some years he was creating, writing, and illustrating in excess of 1,000 pages! (I think it has been reported that one year he penciled 1600 pages of art!)