Sunday, June 24, 2007

Kirby 's Fantastic Four

Ok onto some comics. I went and saw Fantastic Four 2 and I have to say I enjoyed it. I know fellow fanboys, I may lose my greek-cred card but I thought it was pretty fun. I don’t understand why I can separate my love and devotion to the original Fantastic Four material and those movies, yet I can’t watch Smallville because I just cannot separate the mythos from the show. I guess Superman is closer to my heart. Anyhow the Fantastic Four. The Fantastic Four were my very first comic book that I remember. My father bought me a lot of comics when I was a kid. I had a ton of Richy Rich comics, Star Trek Comics, and just a few Marvel’s, among them, Fantastic Four including Fantastic Four annual number 3. Actually, this was a reprint. A funny thing about the 70’s was that Marvel did a LOT of reprints during the decade. Heck for years the X-Men were nothing but reprints. So this was definitely a reprint. Man I loved that comic.

To tie all this to the movie, I thought I would expound on the greatness that was Jack Kirby while taking a look at the original appearances of Galactus and the Silver Surfer.

I am approaching 40 now. I’ve had to learn to be more tolerant of the younger generation’s likes and dislikes. For example, Star Wars. Most people will tell you that the original Star Wars is a classic and from a drama point of view, the new trilogy is not so much. But I realized that for a lot of my fellow fan boys, the young ones who are actually the target audience of the films, the new Star Wars films are THEIR Star Wars films. It’s their generation’s films and not mine. So I could go on a message board and get all fired up because someone thinks Darth Maul is a totally awesome character who would take Han Solo in a fight, or I could grin and nod. I usually choose the latter.

If you haven’t noticed, I can get off topic sometimes.

So Kirby. For a lot of younger comic fans, the mystique of Kirby is probably lost. After all, it is easy to say that a lot of his characters looked the same, everyone seemed to crouch on command, and man those lines are thick! All probably true. Check this out

However, the idea of a comic book cliché doesn’t apply to Kirby. Along with Steve Ditko and Joe Shuster, Kirby CREATED the clichés. So much of what we see in comic art today started here. There of course were MANY artists that were published before Kirby, but for my money, Kirby and Eisner were the innovators in storytelling. A Kirby story almost didn’t need words to be enjoyable. Check this out

As much as it is easy to say Kirby was a product of an older generation who has been surpassed by those who followed, I think Kirby has earned the title King. I think he'stimeless.

Two of Kirby’s greatest subjects were introduced in the pages of Fantastic Four #48. The Silver Surfer and his world-eating boss, Galactus.

(Btw there was not a cloud in sight) Kirby was never one to over use splash pages (I’m looking at you Ed Benes) but he still manages to create some scale with Galactus. Of course there was some weirdness in the art. For example, what the heck does Black Bolt have on his head here?

Also Elektra and Tony Stark, I mean the Skrulls look a little “ethnic” if you know what I mean.

The Thing sure was a badass.

I think The Watcher forgot his water pills. That or he just had a big sushi lunch.

Finally on page 20, the big guy arrives.

Gorgeous! What an awesome design Galactus has. Alien, sci-fi, huge, weird, just very cool. The next issue starts with another dose of Lee/Kirby goodness

“If This Be Doomsday” Such gravitas! You know Reed has been busy because he seriously needs a shave

Eventually, Galactus meets with Bendis, I mean The Watcher

The cover to the final part of the Galactus story has one cool image of the Silver Surfer. I don’t know why Johnny Storm going to school was so darn important that it warranted three exclamation points but oh well. The Surfer looks sweet!

How come the Surfer didn’t do THIS in the movie?

Thankfully the Kingpin shows up to save the day. I mean The Watcher (the Watcher jokes come fast and furious around here).

Using the ultimate thingy majiggy, Reed scares off Galactus. The amazing thing about this issue is that Galactus leaves Earth midway through the comic.

The rest of the issue is Johnny going to school, Ben getting emo over Alicia, and Black Bolt getting his shizzle on with his rocking headpiece.

Overall, a great story from one of the great teams in comic history. Galactus of course would return many times, most famously in the John Byrne run during the 80’s. But in these books, an era was captured. Crazy aliens, nutty plot devices, its all here. I encourage you to check out the Kirby collections that are out there.