Saturday, September 14, 2013

More Kirby Comics!

This has been a good week for patching the gaps in my Fantastic Four collection. A lot of these books I haven't read since I was a kid. As I've said before, these stories were written by Kirby during a period when he just wasn't keen to create any new characters for his thieving employers. Funny how his so-called "creative" boss didn't come up with any new material during this time when Kirby was effectively working in what amounted as a slow-down, and Ditko had fled Marvel.

The information I've heard in recent years is that Kirby was supposed to have quit Marvel along with Ditko years before. But at the last second he got cold feet and decided not to leave. That thing of worrying about his family was always paramount to Jack Kirby. I could never blame him too much for staying around when he was worried about being able to keep his income stream moving.

The Silver Surfer was one of the more Biblical of Kirby's creations. I think Kirby felt a special kinship to this character and he seemed to enjoy laying further claim to him whenever possible. Alas, Lee and Goodman finally gave the Surfer his own book and knifed Kirby by handing the writing/illustrating work to John Buscema.

When this book came out I really did not care for it. At all. The only thing I liked about it was one of the splash pages featuring Ben Grimm and Thor. Looking at it, you can see that Lee and Goodman had Romita go through the book and re-draw many of the panels featuring Spider-Man. Goodman had never liked Ditko's Spider-Man and when they finally had Romita completely revamp the look of the character, Goodman did not want that look adulterated. Years later, Kirby would suffer a similar insult when the editors at DC had Curt Swan paste over all of the faces that Kirby had illustrated of Superman so that they would look like the Curt Swan-produced house style of their bread and butter character. (Even the Spider-Man figure on this cover has been re-drawn, likely by Romita.)

As Kirby was toiling away, this was the kind of story he was producing for Marvel's flagship title. Fun, effective, dynamic...but almost no more new and marketable material for the men who had already fleeced him.

I always liked this cover. A lot. Here Kirby was falling back on the first super-villain he had created for Marvel Comics: the Mole Man. One of the least of the characters he'd concocted at Marvel, but he had to put someone in the book for the FF to fight.

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