Sunday, August 04, 2013

Later Kirby Issues of FANTASTIC FOUR

I'm having a good time completing my collection of Jack Kirby's THE FANTASTIC FOUR. As I've mentioned before, I only want the issues that Kirby created, plotted, wrote, and illustrated. So the issues that I want are #1 through #102.

I have the bulk of the later issues and now I'll have to buckle down and start filling in the earliest issues. I don't currently own any single-digit issues, so that's where I'll have to concentrate over the next year or so. The following are all issues of the title that I picked up at a comic show today. All of the books were in very high grade and I was particularly happy with both the condition of the books and the price that I paid for the lot. I got a great deal on these.

The issues from around #72 through #77 were strange. Kirby had been weaving a unique and long-running plot for a number of months dealing with the Silver Surfer and Galactus and tying in with the Psycho-Man, one of the last major villains that Kirby created for Marvel.

Great drama and tension for the readers. No new property for his employers to take from him.

I don't know if Kirby really liked the villain The Mad Thinker, or if he just used him a lot to keep from giving his employer any new intellectual property that they could rob from him.

In retrospect, it's obvious now that Kirby was just biding his time the last few years he worked at Marvel. My feeling is that that, while he was still creating great stories, he just wasn't going to gift Marvel Comics with any new property that they could license at his expense.

"The Torch Goes Wild!" How many times did I read that tag-line when I was a kid? The Inhumans were yet one more group of wonderful characters created by Kirby and used by the corporation to generate revenue at the expense of Kirby's rights.

This is the next-to-last issue of the title that Kirby wrote and illustrated. And it's the last cover that he did for the book for many years. He was obviously signing off in ways that were both literal and symbolic.


Kirk G said...

That's an interesting idea that Kirby's funeral image on the cover of FF #101 was somewhat symbolic that it was over. I never thought much of the return of the Sentry, the Creature nor the Monacle. Only Agatha Harkness showed anything unusual and has stood the test of time. I wonder who came up with her? Kirby? Lee? Black Magic? Simon?

James Robert Smith said...

Although I think that Kirby was consciously trying not to create any new spectacular characters from which his employer could steal from him, he couldn't help but concoct some interesting figures. Agatha Harkness was classic Kirby.

I always noted over the years that Kirby seemed to be going out of his way after the debacle of what Lee did to his story in FF #66-67 that Kirby was trying not to give away too much more of himself while he took stock of his situation with the lying thieves who employed him. Most of the villains from that point to the very end were rather bland by Kirby standards--reappearances of villains he'd already created, or creatures and androids that could hardly be used by someone intent on unfairly exploiting Kirby's vast imagination.

MarkGelbart said...

Maybe the villians were bland because Kirby was burned out on his creation, and he didn't have anything new to add.

I've heard the creators of successful television series say they start to run out of ideas after 2 years and most later episodes are retreads in some way of past ideas.

He had been working on FF for over 5 years by this time. What a creative grind.

James Robert Smith said...

Not a chance. Kirby was still bursting with creativity during this period. He was holding the new ideas for titles he was getting ready to do somewhere other than Marvel. He unleashed the fertile Fourth World series at DC where he was allowed to work without a LEEch attached to his credits.

I'm convinced that he really didn't want to hand over any new iconography to Marvel. Most of the villains during the period after the "HIM" debacle (FF 66-67)were run-of-the-mill androids and the older villains coming back for a rematch. Gone was the amazing explosion of creativity from the earlier issues that handed Lee & Goodman an unmatched fortune of intellectual property to steal.