Friday, May 02, 2014

Train Wreck: FANTASTIC FOUR #108

I always forget that there was one more Jack Kirby issue of FANTASTIC FOUR after #102. I need to research the situation, but it was apparently something in the inventory that had been at least partially delivered by Kirby before he made the move to DC Comics. Marvel finally published it in a mangled format some six months after he was gone.

The story "The Monstrous Mystery of The Nega Man" is awful stuff. Reading it, you have almost no idea at all what Kirby was trying to do or say, because the yarn was mangled beyond all hope of any logic by Stan Lee. The introductory pages by Kirby seem to be missing. I'm betting that they were present but that they were replaced with new pages by John Buscema and (according to the credits listing) John Romita. Changes, of course, made at Lee's demands.

What was delivered in this last Kirby issue is a total mess. Dialogue paired with images in such a way that there is no logic at all. Not even within the often inconsistent world of superhero kids' comics! The juggernaut of commercialism built by Jack Kirby was barreling ahead and could not be stopped on the sales front--not even by an evil and incompetent editor and a host of misguided comic artists working in the wake of a talent they could never hope to match.

My copy of FANTASTIC FOUR #108. Added for the simple reason that I want to have all of Kirby's work on his creation. Cover apparently by John Buscema.

An opening page by John Buscema that had to be added due to changes in the plot and direction of the title since Kirby's absence. And creating a story from Kirby's work that makes no sense whatsoever.

"Last-minute revisions, deletions, and addenda..." Right.

Then, after the title page setup, we see Kirby art with dialogue that is completely inept. The caption at the bottom of the page even warns that none of this makes any sense. That's because Kirby's script was being shredded through sheer incompetence and outright malice.

The finished Kirby pages are classic stuff. Action as only Kirby could perform it. But dialogue that makes almost no sense and situations that are incompetently rendered by the editor.

Interspersed among the Kirby pages are completely new art and layouts by Buscema.

Some of the pages look to be cobbled together from layouts by Kirby, followed by interpretations of what appear to be guesswork by Buscema and company as to what Kirby intended. Missing the mark, of course, and leaving the reader with a total and complete mess.


Kirk G said...

Virtually ALL of the original art from this original Jack Kirby story have been located and pieced together. The original story was a one-shot that was positioned to be #102...but was pulled, and...well, you see what resulted. However, it is my belief that issue #100 was a personal milestone for Kirby. The cover of #101, with the team being placed in coffins may be a message that Stan missed. But it would be hard to miss the symbolism in what he submitted as the "two-faced man, Janus" in #102... especially if he's already given his notice by that point. Twomorrows Publications has assembled most of the original artwork and printed a special edition of "The Lost Kirby FF Story". You can find copies around, but I wouldn't pay full price for it.

James Robert Smith said...

Thanks. I'll look for it.

Every time I think that my opinion of Lee can't get any lower...history makes it so.