No, I don’t think the headline overstates it. If a frustrated young comic book writer hadn’t taken his wife’s advice back in the early 1960s, today’s world would be very different.
As Stan Lee tells it, he had become frustrated working on Western, Romance, and Monster comic books and was thinking about quitting. He confided in his wife, as husbands always should (right, Honey?), about his wanting to leave and she suggested before he quit he should write something he really wanted to write. He was going to quit anyway, why not give it a shot?
That’s how the world got the Fantastic Four, which lead to one of the greatest outpouring of creative content ever. Stan Lee, teamed up with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, began cranking out an entire universe of superheroes, the likes of which had never been seen before. It was a marvelous universe to behold.
And the Fantastic Four was the Big Bang.
So, let’s look at the cover, shall we? This is the second installment of my monthly look at comic book covers that I love. Or really like. Or have a certain fondness for. I mean, I don’t wanna marry them. I’m already married. That would be bigamy.
Anyway, the cover of this historic comic book was illustrated by Jack Kirby (who else?!). It’s not his most visually exciting effort, but he does what is necessary to introduce the reader to these new characters.
Kirby chose to keep Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) and Sue Storm (Invisible Girl) in their civilian clothes, I think, in order to play up Marvel’s angle that their superheroes were real people with everyday real world problems. It was that angle that made Marvel’s characters so much more interesting and identifiable than DC’s characters at the time. DC got better. Competition does that.
There is a monster on the cover (two if you count The Thing), so Lee didn’t completely abandon the monster themes. And one of Kirby’s strengths was his monster creations. Even in my younger days of not really liking The King’s work, I did like his monsters. They were awesome.
And then there’s the dialogue. Well, again, what the characters are saying is mainly meant to introduce them to the reader. Each of their names is mentioned either by themselves or one of the other teammates.
It was also a long time practice in comic book writing to end nearly every sentence with an exclamation point. Unless someone was asking a question, everyone was speaking very urgently. That overuse of the exclamation points did eventually subside.
I find a couple things curious about the cover. One is how the banner box with each of the FF’s hero names (fully exclamation marked, of course) makes it sound as though the members of this group had been in other magazines prior to being teamed up in this one. It’s just a minor awkwardness. I’ll live.
The other curiosity I have is just how did Mr. Fantastic end up in those ropes? Surely, the monster didn’t tie him up. Were he and Sue up to something a little kinky perhaps?
You know, with his stretching ability and her invisibility, things could have gotten very interesting…
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