Last week I traveled back in time. It was a simpler time. I drank water from the outdoor water hose. I watched Saturday Morning cartoon shows and I read “The Worlds Greatest Comic Magazine”!
I stepped back in time to wonderment and surprise that can only come to the innocent and wild eyed!
How did I get transported back to my childhood? Back to 1967/68? Well I’ll tell you how. I got my copy of Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four Artist’s Edition.
Now I don’t care if you are In your teens or seventies! You want to see some of the best art and storytelling ever done in comics? Go buy this book.
I was transported back, in awe of the Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott’s artwork. The over the top brilliance of Stan Lee’s prose. You younger guys want to see why us …more mature guys… rant and rave about how great the Silver Age was? Well here it is! What bombast, what pageantry, what grandiosity, could exist in Comicdom? Well all will be revealed in this one volume of the Fantastic Four!
The first issue of the FF I picked up on the stands was #76….Stranded in Sub-Atomica! I had found a few back issues. Number 55 and number 70. At the end of number 70, one of the Mad Thinkers robots had clobbered the Thing, the Torch and Mr. Fantastic. The only one left standing was the Invisible Girl (That’s right…Invisible Girl). Now, I had purchased #76 already, so I knew Sue had survived, but I still wanted to see how she survived! I never got issue 71 until a couple or three years later when one of quite of a few boxes of books were delivered to the end of my driveway in rural Ontario, and their arrival was heralded by the Mail Lady (that’s right…mail lady) by laying on the horn until I ran my excited little butt down that driveway with my heart pounding! I loved that book, and that is the story this Artist Edition starts off with! And it has never looked better!
The thing that really hit me when I looked at this with fresh eyes, was the sheer brilliance of Joe Sinnott’s inking over Kirby’s absolutely fantastic composition. These two artists were truly at the top of their skills together.They were a marriage that really worked! Kirby’s artwork explodes in the beautiful scans of original artwork and Sinnott’s inks make the action and grandeur of the whole story crackle in a way that only they could!
The Annual #6 was my first annual.The birth of Franklin Richards and the life and death emotion that shone through that whole story was made by another perfect marriage. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby! From the opening dialogue on page one, you could tell how desperate Reed was to do anything to save his wife and as yet unborn child. Page 35 panel one, with Reed, Johnny and Ben stranded on the asteroid, powerless and drifting toward the heart of the Negative Zone sums up for me the scope of Kirby and Sinnott. And Stan’s dialogue conveys the momentary loss of hope.
Then comes Issue #82, 83!!! The two part Inhumans Saga! Look at the action and the emotional content again of these stories.The common thread is that these people are a family.And they will die for each other if that is what it takes.Again, action pathos, drama even comedic relief.It is all here!
And number 84! The first thing I noticed was that on page 1 Johnny Storm was a paste up drawn by John Romita. I would love to see underneath at what Stan thought was wrong with Jack’s Torch! This was to me the first part of the greatest Dr. Doom story ever! Check out the vehicle the Inhuman’s give the FF in appreciation for freeing them from the clutches of Maximus the Mad shown on page 1! If any of you have seen the movie Oblivion, which was a really fine Tom Cruise movie by the way, the ship he patrols the dystopian landscape with, is without a doubt, a knock off of the Inhuman’s ship.
The Dr. Doom saga only has the first part of the 4 issue saga. I’m hoping that shows up sometime soon as well. The street scenes in Latveria, the heavy hand of an iron-fisted government and the fear crossing that Latverian border is palpable.
Then just because you are already out of breath, we get an assortment of various pages mostly from the last half dozen Kirby issues except for…the artwork to the cover of the aformentioned #76!! I’m in Heaven!
Whew! …and I’m spent!
In closing, I want to mention the heartfelt forward by John Byrne. The only guy who came close to the right feel for the FF. I would love to see him take another run at them.
So, do yourself a favor. To harken back to that simpler time, run don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and get yourself a copy of the Worlds Greatest Comic Magazine!
Continued Happy Collecting!
Jack Kirby Fantastic Four Artist Ed HC – $135.00
Retail Price: $150.00
You Save: $15.00
from: Things From Another World
Thanks for taking me Back Dennis !! I couldnt agree more. I did miss Kirbys 5 and six page panel pages from the early days…but The stories and art were still Great…..and garden hose water is a bit of all right too 🙂
It worked for me David! I never knew there were any Kirby complete stories from that era at all!And Scott Dunbier at IDW says there is more on the way.I can’t wait!
Dennis , I’m the same vintage as you and , I , too , loved the FF back in the day ! my other favs were from DC though , Green Lantern and the Flash ! even to this day , I can go thru my long boxes and reread Gil Kane and Infantino all day long ! as a long time collector/dealer at shows in Vancouver , I can tell you a lot of younger collectors have NO idea of the greatness of comics from the Silver Age ! i’ll show them copies of Kanes’ art from ALL Star Western to Rex the wonder dog to his sf from Strange Adventures to Mystery in Space . Infantinos’ art from dectective chimp to his city landscapes from his Adam Strange run !
the only AE’s I’ve bought are the Kirby ones , naturally ! IDW really does a fantastic job on them !
I really like it when you go back in time in your columns , it’ll make me rummage thru long boxes to reread said books !
Thanks for the comment Chris.I was much more of a Marvel fan than DC ,however,there was certain DC books that always grabbed my attention.Green Lantern was one that always caught my eye, and it was because of the great Gil Kane artwork.The Atom was another , and Carmine Infantino paired with Joe Giella or Murphy Anderson were responsible for stellar artwork, on covers and interiors. Writing this column also allows me to constantly rummage through long boxes.The long boxes are rather unsightly, aahh but the interior is a thing of beauty!
You nailed it, Dennis! From childhood, through different periods, my favorite Marvel heroes were Dr Strange, then Iron Man, settling on Cap. My favorite titles were Defenders, Iron Man, Avengers (the three long runs I bothered to be completist about), but without hesitation I call FF #1-103 and attendant annuals the greatest run in comics history. I’ll read each of those long runs end to end once before selling them one day, but FF is permanent library stuff. I guess a Masterworks set is the way to go for me. And I do still want/plan a #1 someday.
I would love to see Marvel do a facsimile reprint run of the Kirby issues, or at least some of the keys, in time for Jack’s 100th birthday on August 28th! But, of course, the powers that be are not likely to do that, unless they can settle their differences with Fox. Seeing Ben Grimm in the Guardians of the Galaxy just rubs me the wrong way!
I used to have that whole Kirby run, but over the years, due to the fiscal demands of university, college and life in general, I’ve had to pare down to just the first ten issues (beaters all) and the first year of Sinnot’s inking, which, of course, includes the Inhumans’ arrival on the scene, the Galactus trilogy, This Man, This Monster (that single issue story that tore everybody’s hearts out), Black Panther, on up to #55 (my copy is the one I bought off the shelf for twelve cents, which I have been told is a 9.4, which shows you how anal I was as a kid).
I should add, that I was unable to afford even a lesser grade of #1 until I discovered the Golden Age Record Set reprint, the cover of which is identical to the original minus the number one and the ten-cent price, with the last page printed in black and white on the inside back cover, and no interior ads. Not a bad substitute at all really!
I hope CBD gives Jack all the coverage he deserves during his centenary. Long live the King!
Great article! So would you say this is one of your top AEs?
The thing that I find amazing is that all the Silver Age Keys have a solid foundation from day one.Most have a cast of supporting characters already in place and the framework is complete.None more so than FF#1.It is a testament to the importance of both the writer and the artist to complete the creation of these characters and when I hear disparaging remarks about Stan Lee and him not being important in the creation of these characters it really is an insult to the mythos of Marvel Comics.
Mel, you can count on me waxing poetic on Kirby not only in his Centennial year but beyond! Also, if you could only hang onto a few of the FF run ,it sounds like you kept the cream of the crop!It just isn’t right that there is no monthly FF book at all right now.I hope the powers that be fulfill your request!
Yes Killerdiller! It is killer!
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