My two favorite superhero comic book yarns were written and illustrated by (of course) my two favorite creators of that period of my life: Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. I won't get too much into the history of the pair of stories that so influenced me, except to reiterate that Steve Ditko created, wrote, and illustrated The Amazing Spider-Man; and Jack Kirby created, wrote, and illustrated the Fantastic Four. Neither man had a "co-creator"--just an editor.
I've also covered both of these stories in past essays here in my blog. So I'll just list the stories and the issues in which they appeared and leave my earlier words to stand; and perhaps add some depth to those essays on another day.
The first of these great stories was the Master Planner story arc that ran for several issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. This is, as far as I'm concerned, the finest super-hero story ever done. Ditko outdid not only himself with this adventure, but all other super-hero comic creators before or since. A few have come close to capturing the depth and breadth of what he was achieving, but no one has surpassed the sheer power of this tale.
|When he was allowed, Ditko could create some of the finest covers being done in comics.|
|Yeah, the fans had never seen Spider-Man done like this.|
|Despair was never portrayed quite like this. Someday I need to do a study of the way Ditko utilized the imagery of water in his comics.|
Then, in issue #90 of the title, a new story arc appeared. The Skrull/Slave arc. It could be argued that the plot was partially based on the germ of an idea from the TV series Star Trek. But beyond that it was all classic Kirby. Kirby had always been fascinated by mob characters and science fiction. And so he plunged his comic book alter-ego, Ben Grimm, into a long story steeped in mob culture and a pure science-fiction, planet-spanning adventure. It was, I now know, Kirby's fond farewell to his character of Ben Grimm as he planned his move away from Marvel and to fields greener for his creative energies.
|Symbolism. One of Kirby's earliest creations for Marvel was the alien race, the Skrulls, who were shape-shifters. Here, he is tricked and kidnapped by a Skrull posing as his friend, Reed Richards. Fooled again, sucker!|
|Ben Grimm, in chains!|
|One of the most effective and dramatic covers I've seen in superhero comics.|