The Small Lebowski:
Fantastic Four #66-67
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #66, Fantastic Four #67
...and then wanders around Central Park where he discovers that people actually like him. Reed gets to work trying to figure out what happened to Alicia (through some super-science that even strains the suspension of disbelief for this loyal Marvel reader), and neglects his razor.
Meanwhile, Alicia has been brought to the Citadel of Science (AKA the Beehive - and i thought this story was going to be about Alicia's hairstyle)...
...and is talking with the super scientists who would later call themselves the Enclave.
Their reasons for wanting Alicia are... stupid. They've got an experimental person they've created (their goal is to create perfect human beings which they will use to make the world a better place (the official spin) or rule the world (the not-properly-thought-out actual plan)). But the prototype they've created is out of control and they haven't been able to get a good look at it. Since Alicia is a world-famous blind sculptress, she is ideally suited to go and figure out what the thing looks like, and then sculpt it for them.
Back in New York, Crystal is justifiably pissed that the Human Torch hasn't been taking her on missions.
The Torch, without a hint of irony, reasons that "The Inhumans are as human as anybody! You've just got some nutty extra powers, that's all!". Good argument, Johnny! Eventually he is able to talk her out of being mad but she makes a very good point (and proves it by kicking his butt with her powers during the course of their argument).
By this time the FF arrive (without *sigh* the Invisible Girl and Crystal, because it could be too dangerous for them - what the hell is happening here? Update: I now believe that this is Reed being overprotective because Sue is pregnant. A footnote would have been nice! See Fantastic Four annual #5's Chronological Placement Considerations. Doesn't explain Crystal, except that Johnny is taking cues from Reed.).
When they make it to the Citadel, things are out of control. The prototype has been knocking around the enclave soldiers and Dr. Hamilton has been knocked out. Alicia is able to emotionally connect with the creature, who is in a cocoon...
...but the remaining scientists are getting ready to pull the plug and launch it into space. The prototype judges his creators and finds that they are evil so he leaves the earth, destroying the scientists (apparently) and the Citadel in the process. The creature will later be known as Him and then Adam Warlock.
This one was a real shame due to the treatment of Sue (who is also shown wearing an apron over her FF costume cooking breakfast for the others) ...
...and Crystal. Sue was becoming a stronger character - reflected by her increased powers and the assurance that came with them in battle, but since the marriage she's been bossed around by Reed and reverting to her personality in the earliest FF issues. Actually this is worse - she's always accompanied the team in the past but now she's forbidden from even going on missions? The situation with Crystal is no better.
Even giving the sexism a pass, this story is illogical (The scientist's reason for kidnapping Alicia is downright stupid), The passage with the Thing learning about how everybody loves him is too precious and convenient, but worse it has no long lasting affect on him. Soon he will be back to thinking that everyone sees him like a monster.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Alicia Masters was kidnapped during FF #65, and at the beginning of issue #68 she'll be in the hospital recovering from the events of this story, so she's unavailable to appear elsewhere (like Fantastic Four annual #5) between Fantastic Four #65-68. Pushed forward a bit to not leave too much of a gap after FF #65.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel's Greatest Comics #49, Marvel's Greatest Comics #50
Inbound References (15): show
The best time to read issues like this is at the age of ten. At that age you take everything in stride, from silly to sexist.
Posted by: Silverbird | June 26, 2014 6:45 AM
Its sort of strange looking this over and wondering what would have happened if Kirby went through with his idea that the Enclave were noble beings trying to create a being and "Him" (Warlock) ends up being the one who turns out evil, not by their result but just because of his interactions upon seeing the nature of man. Unfortunately I don't know if that would have meant Warlock wouldn't have been around for what Starlin ultimately does with his character but that's probably one of the few good things that came out of the direction it did go in. (sometimes things work out in the end I guess with the right writers but it does make one wonder what could have been)
Posted by: Ataru320 | August 26, 2014 11:15 AM
This may be blasphemy to some, but I never liked Kirby's art, particularly his female faces. That 6th panel above with Alicia shows how badly he misses. He did well on that Crystal side shot (with torch in the window), but usually his faces bother me the most, everything else appears fine. I never liked the mouths on his male characters either.
Posted by: Mike | March 21, 2015 10:44 AM
Mike, I don't think you're in the minority about Kirby's females. Stan was critical of Kirby's women and often had Sinnott or Romita Sr. rework or retouch the faces of Sue, Crystal, Alicia, Sharon Carter, etc. A case in point is the very Crystal panel you cite: Stan instructed Romita to "pretty up Crystal's face", as noted in The Jack Kirby Collector #60. In this same TJKC article there are also notes from Stan criticizing the Alicia panel you mention and complaining that all "J.K. gals" look alike.
Posted by: Shar | March 21, 2015 1:13 PM
That's very interesting Shar. Thanks, I didn't know Kirby received that much criticism since everyone seems to constantly revere him. I mentioned in another page that his women really look a lot like Jackie O because of their wide faces. Maybe an inspiration? I know she was big at the time. His men's faces look like actor William Devane, if you saw his photo you'd know what I mean. That mouth! Anyway thanks again for clarifying. It's good to know that "The Man" himself saw what I saw.
Posted by: Mike | May 24, 2015 3:31 PM
Mike, sorry this is so late but you are spot on about Devane! Take a look at Balder in the Thor #164 entry
Posted by: Shar | September 17, 2015 8:42 PM
It would have been funny if, after Reed spent all his time duplicating Hamilton's bracelet, he found out it shot energy blasts or something, and walking through walls was just the guy's superpower.
Also, that cocoon would have been an amazing reveal to the mystery of the creature's appearance... if it hadn't been plastered on the cover.
Posted by: Mortificator | February 13, 2016 6:51 PM
When I first started reading comics regularly in the mid-1980s I was under the impression that Jim Starlin had created Adam Warlock. It was a genuine surprise when over a decade later I finally learned that Warlock had originally been this "Him" character devised by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby. Probably one of the most prominent examples of a writer taking a character originally devised by others and becoming very proprietary towards him. Another would, of course, be Claremont and the various X-Men.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 6, 2016 11:04 PM
It gets even weirder. I don't remember where I read this so I certainly can't cite any references, but I've heard that the "Him" story was basically Kirby's reaction/response to reading "Atlas Shrugged" after Ditko's recommendation. Not sure how much of it's recognizable in the story, Stan certainly had his influence on the dialogue, and Ditko had left Marvel the previous year, so the timeline may be iffy, even if this is true.
However, by the time this story was ready, "Silver Surfer" #1 was in the works, demonstrating to Kirby how he had no control over his characters or creations, with the result that Him was basically the last character Kirby created for "Fantastic Four." You can argue that there were a few more ideas, the Microverse, Franklin Richards or whatever he was doing in "Thor," but this was basically the point where Kirby stopped putting so much of himself into the comics, particularly the flagship title.
This is unverified speculation, but Him is one of the last major characters - if you consider Him/Adam Warlock a major character - Kirby introduced until years later when he returned to Marvel with "Eternals."
Posted by: ChrisW | April 7, 2016 1:13 AM
@ChrisW: The article you're referring to was in the Jack Kirby Collector #24 from TwoMorrows Publishing, which you can read online here: http://twomorrows.com/kirby/articles/24compare.html
Posted by: Nathan Adler | April 7, 2016 4:25 AM
That article certainly looks familiar. I do have a few "Jack Kirby Collector" Collections, so it must have been reprinted in one of those. Or I heard about it someplace else and that's where I got the notion Ditko was involved. Don't hate.
Anyway, I've just been putting together a spreadsheet of Kirby's work during this decade, and although I didn't even look at the characters or concepts he introduced at any point [just going through all those comics took a while; Kirby contributed to over 60 different comic books in 1966a alone!] and although he kept working on "Thor" right up through the end of his time at Marvel, by the time this issue was published he had already been reduced (if that's the right word) to the last three regular titles he would do at Marvel for years, "FF," "Captain America" and "Thor."
Never mind the characters he introduced, there's an odd format to his career. "FF" and "Thor" are the main pillars. He didn't miss an issue of the former and only a few of the latter, from the first appearance to the time he left the company. In addition to these, he mostly fell into a pattern (or Stan Lee assigned him to this pattern) of setting up a book and then leaving it.
He started off with series that, in hindsight, one can't imagine how anybody could have thought they'd work. Ant-Man? A Human Torch spin-off where he's trying to keep a secret identity with his sister in some generic suburban neighborhood? At least the Hulk was neat, but Kirby only did five issues of that, and the series was cancelled with #6.
He contributed to Iron Man, he created Sgt. Fury for a war comic, he set the X-Men and Avengers in motion, he returned to Captain America. Then Stan started having him do layouts instead of full pencils, which by all accounts, Kirby hated. But he sure did a lot of them in 1965-66. After that period, he stuck with the three books he would do for the rest of his tenure.
What's really weird is how much Marvel had changed by the time he was getting ready to leave. "X-Men" had been cancelled, Herb Trimpe was well into his run on "Hulk," Stan was writing very few books. Even Captain Stacy had died. As one of the two primary architects of the Marvel Universe, Kirby must have felt trapped in a world he helped to make, and increasingly-unhappy with Martin Goodman.
"Him" may not have been the actual turning point, but at the risk of sounding like Bizarro, Him was a major reason Kirby was driven away from Marvel.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 7, 2016 5:07 AM
Regarding "Him"/Warlock and Starlin: remember that Starlin himself really seemed to have little control over where he went early on. Some of his earliest stuff was with Iron Man, which is basically where he began his first Thanos epic before switching over to Captain Marvel and improving what was then a floundering book that, as this page attests, was rather infamous with its creators and the zillions of ideas it couldn't make stick before Starlin used it to boost both his own characters as well as the flagship one.
As for Warlock, his road to Starlin was peculiar: he showed up here and then in a Thor two-parter (that I think Kirby at least had something to do with) before suddenly getting his own books to rise on the "Jesus" craze of the early 70s with the saga on Counter-Earth. That failed and died; then somehow Starlin probably saw his potential and they cleared the deck of the old Warlock concepts in a Hulk story so that Starlin can revive him and further his own mythos and introduce important elements for him...yeah Thanos returned but, again, it was furthering that story. Basically after what he did Starlin controlled Warlock like he sort of controlled Captain Marvel. (I say "sort of" since he had a ton of other creative hiccups and comics before Starlin's GN killing him off) But it sort of shows the power of "someone with an idea for some character" that redefines who really "owns" their conceptual ideas.
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 7, 2016 9:10 AM
@Ataru320 - Agreed that Adam Warlock had a very lengthy, haphazard development. He started out as "Him" in this FF storyline by Lee & Kirby in 1967. He was significantly revamped by Roy Thomas & Gil Kane, becoming Adam Warlock, in Marvel Premiere #1 in 1972. And then with Strange Tales #178 in 1975 Jim Starlin gets his hands on Warlock for the first time and just goes completely crazy with the character in "The Magus Saga."
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 7, 2016 1:27 PM
@Atauru, the one place where you're off is that Hulk story wasn't Starlin clearing the deck, it was Steve Engelhard wrapping up the story that was left hanging when Warlock was cancelled (and really there was only one way a Jesus figure story could end.)
Posted by: Andrew | April 7, 2016 9:08 PM
It's tough to say actually. The "end" of the Adam Warlock/Counter-Earth saga was August, '74 (when Hulk 178 was published), and then 6 months later in Strange Tales (Feb. '75), Starlin started his Warlock saga. Obviously I consider it "clearing the deck" because it was the conclusion of the Warlock book's storylines that freed Adam Warlock up for Starlin's Magus arc.
Posted by: Ataru320 | April 7, 2016 10:01 PM
I've expanded my spreadsheet to include all the characters Kirby co-created between FF #1 and #108. I think I have an idea of how he approached the creation of the Marvel Universe throughout this period.
He more-or-less worked with Stan well up through the Galactus Trilogy, by which time Stan was assigning him to do layouts on various books. Jack was basically doing all the main work he had been doing, but getting less of the pleasure of doing the finished art. He obviously managed to put his foot down soon after the Galactus Trilogy, and for the most part stopped doing layouts.
By this point, he had started developing some of the deeper/more cosmic aspects of the Marvel Universe, the Inhumans, the Secret Empire, AIM, the Cosmic Cube, the Tales of Asgard. And he found a base on his three main books from hereon, "FF," "Captain America" and "Thor." If Him wasn't the last straw when it came to creating new characters, he (Him) was close. MODOK, the Wrecker, Franklin Richards, Annihilus, Agatha Harkness and Garokk are the only characters he created afterward that could ever be considered major characters.
Instead he focused on developing the characters he'd already created, mostly in "Thor." He worked on Galactus' origin and developed the Kree's creation of the Inhumans. He still kept the cosmic feel, but more and more his heart wasn't in it. Already worn down by the Marvel Method, more and more often he was resorting to generic (if cool) slugfests and bringing back old villains for no real reason.
I suspect he was already thinking of quitting, but where could he go? DC was willfully ignoring Marvel's success, attributing it to "bad art," and Kirby had already had problems with that company. He was a married man with a family and responsibilities. When he asked for a raise, Stan's response was that he should draw more full-page spreads, because he'd get his page rate for only doing one panel. I doubt Kirby leapt at the idea, but he didn't have any other choice, so that's why there's so many full-page spreads in his later years. That's what his employer wants, that's what his employer gets.
I don't think it's a coincidence that Sue Richards got pregnant during this time, and she and Reed immediately withdrew from battling villains every month, or at least acted weird when confronted. Kirby tried to make the best of it, saving his new characters for a better offer, but going in deeper on the characters he'd already created. I like the seemingly-random appearance of Wanda and Pietro outside Mount Wundagore while Thor is inside dealing with the High Evolutionary. If nothing else, shouldn't they be with the Avengers instead of embarking on a trip to Eastern Europe?
But with Marvel's continued success, he couldn't even do that. Suddenly extended stories are out of bounds. Suddenly Marvel's adding a lot of new books (after their distribution deal with DC was renegotiated in 1968) suddenly Stan wants him to draw an issue of "Silver Surfer" after all of Kirby's plans for the character had been thrown overboard. It's what his employer wants, it's what his employer gets.
So he stopped building the Marvel Universe, for the most part. I suspect there was an attempt on Stan's part (and maybe even Martin Goodman's) to make Kirby happy. He was given a chance to do an "Inhumans" series, and develop Ka-Zar. Kirby seems to have liked Ka-Zar a lot. My guess is that he was a throwback to the pulp fiction Kirby devoured as a youth, but he also wanted to expand past the basic superhero genre. In return, he did create a few new characters [Crypto-Man, Thermal Man, Monocle, even Janus the Nega-Man] but only Agatha Harkness had any staying power. And anyway, the editorial department shredded his new books.
He finally got a decent offer from DC and jumped ship, which turned out to be the same thing he'd fled. Then he came back to Marvel, and it was even worse.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 7, 2016 11:33 PM
As far as Him being the last major character, there was still Annihilus to come. As far as Kirby's art, as just art there were better but as a visual story teller he was one of the very best. That is what I revere him for. DC was not quite the same thing he'd fled. He was given full credit as writer and creator at DC on Jimmy Olsen, New Gods, Forever People, Mr. Miracle, the Losers, the Demon, Kamandi and Kobra.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 11, 2016 10:22 PM
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|