The two-issue story arc in FANTASTIC FOUR #39-40 was commercially supposed to be a way to showcase the relatively new Marvel character of Daredevil. Lee and Goodman had probably not been especially happy with the sales of their new superhero title and so they'd recruited Wally Wood to write and illustrate the title. And the general practice at Marvel was to do crossover stories with the characters to show that everything in the Marvel Universe was connected and contiguous and related. DC already did this to some extent, but their characters were far more autonomous than at Marvel--and this kept fans grabbing more than one title, to watch the continuity that Jack Kirby kept up with his amazing juggling act.
Kirby decided to utilize the FF's greatest villain, Dr. Doom, for this story. It bleeds over in many ways from the FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #2, at the end of which Dr. Doom was basically drugged into believing that he'd killed his arch-nemesis, Reed Richards. Brought out of this drugged stupor, Doom is of course enraged beyond reasoning with the way the FF had fooled him, and so sets about getting a new measure of revenge.
The first part of this story (FF #39) was inked mainly by Frank Giacoia, using the pseudonym of Frank Ray. This was, I've heard, a common attempt to fool editors at other companies so that their competing bosses didn't cop that they were working elsewhere. The inks are okay, but not the best. However, all of the figures of Daredevil in this issue were inked by Wally Wood, the man who was writing and illustrating the DAREDEVIL title. This was a cool tactic on Marvel's part, and I wonder if it was Kirby's idea, or Wood's, or Goodman's. I'm sure someone out there knows the answer to that one. At any rate, it was a cool move and I really liked it when I was a kid.
By the second part of the story, the inks were being done by unfairly reviled Vince Colletta. The inks are not the best, but are decent. However, gone is the gimmick of having Wally Wood ink the Daredevil figures in each panel. Why? I have no idea. Had Wood tired of the move? Was he too busy writing, penciling, and inking the regular DAREDEVIL title? Or had he already moved on. His tenure at Marvel was not a happy one, as he locked horns with Lee and did not appreciate having to give up his writing credits on DD. At any rate, Colletta inked every bit of the issue.
Previously, the main rivalry in the Fantastic Four was between Richards and von Doom. This was always the way it had been and that's what the readers expected. But in this issue, Kirby turned the tables somewhat by focusing on what had become Ben Grimm's absolute, white-hot hatred for von Doom. This animosity builds and escalates over the course of the story which ends with Grimm using his inhuman strength and impervious body to power through Doom's gadgets and to literally crush the villain's body. It's one of the most intense sequences I read in comics when I was a kid and I never forgot it.
This seemingly simple, two-issue story arc shows what a phenomenal story-teller Jack Kirby was. It is a crime that over the years the wrong man has received credit for these accomplishments.
|My copy of FANTASTIC FOUR #40.|
|Inks in this one are mainly by Frank Giacoia, but ingeniously all of the Daredevil figures were inked by Wally Wood, who was writing and illustrating the main Daredevil title at the time.|
|The final battle between Grimm and Doom goes on for almost half the book! Doom keeps throwing his earth-shattering technology at Grimm and the Thing keeps fighting through it, eager beyond description to get his hands on the bad guy.|