Fantastic Four #151-153
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #151, Fantastic Four #152, Fantastic Four #153
We are officially jumping the shark here. Thundra, the overtly man-hating feminist, was bad enough. Now we meet her dimensional opposite. Mahkizmo. We're in the "it's so bad it's good" category here, which at least makes it enjoyable to read. Mahkizmo runs around calling everyone a sissy.
Thundra's people are called Femizons, by the way. And the story ends when their two worlds learn to love each other.
One nice thing in these issues is Johnny acknowledging that he and Ben haven't been really close and making an effort to become friends.
The opening panel of issue #152, with Reed getting thrown out of the Baxter Building by Mahkizmo, shows him with a third hand at the end of one of his legs instead of a foot.
There's a nice panel of Reed working on a diagram of alternate-time dimensions, wearing a funky tech helmet, while the Thing holds up a giant piece of equipment that Reed no longer needs.
Thundra is going soft on the Thing.
I've linked to Shar's Panelocity site before, but you've got to take a look at this and the surrounding posts to the see the degree to which Rich Buckler was swiping from earlier Jack Kirby comics. As i've said before, pointing this out isn't meant to be a criticism of Buckler. We know that he was told to do this, and Mark Drummond has pointed out that it wasn't just Buckler. And i'm not even sure how i feel about it. If not for Shar's work, i would never have realized the degree to which this was happening. And there's no doubt that Kirby's skills at layouting, and his art generally, were worth emulating. But it does make these stories feel like kind of a rip off in retrospect (especially since storywise the new elements - Mahkizmo! - are pretty awful).
It certainly shows how important Kirby was, not just in terms of the characters and stories he (co-)created, but just in terms of how he established a house style at Marvel that literally remained in place years later. And it makes me wonder about something else. In the 80s, a big point of contention between Kirby and Marvel was the return of his original artwork (here's the Jim Shooter version in two parts and the Gary Groth version. Note also a comment by Peter David in the comments of the second Shooter post mostly confirming Shooter's version). They finally did return some of it, but claimed to not be able to locate all of it. Jim Shooter has some possible partial explanations for that (see comments too). But i wonder if the truth of it was that (pre-Shooter) Marvel had given out a lot of the artwork to artists - especially Buckler - when they were encouraging/requiring these swipes.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP has the Thing appearing in Marvel Two-In-One #6-7 and Defenders #20-21 in between FF #150 and this arc.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showFranklin Richards, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mahkizmo, Medusa, Mr. Fantastic, Thing, Thundra
It was somewhere in these issues that Steve Gerber--who was anonymously answering letters in some columns--made some rather critical comments about how DC was handling Superman. Letter column duty is probably the only aspect of Gerber's Marvel career that has never really been identified.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 10, 2011 8:07 PM
The DC-slamming letter response by Gerber was in #150. An apology for it (fingering Gerber as the culprit) appears soon afterwards. (#154? I don't have the issues handy.)
Apparently Gerber didn't that having Steve Lombard pull pranks on Clark really qualified as "conflict" in Supes's life. Hard to disagree, IMO.
Posted by: Dan Spector | February 3, 2013 4:33 AM
The most shocking item in issue #152 was not in the story itself, but in the Fantastic Four Fan Page. A letter from Kristi Cutler actually urged Marvel to kill Sue off! It appears that most of the fans blamed Sue Storm for the marital separation and not Reed Rochards.
Posted by: Frightful Four fan | May 11, 2013 4:39 PM
Fnord12, thanks again for the shout-out. :)
During the course of this project I've been wondering the same things as you about the Kirby art that seems to have been used or provided to many of the veteran artists when they first started at 1960s Marvel (Kane, Tuska, the Buscemas) plus the post-1970s younger fans-turned-pros like Buckler, Perez, and many others. Namely, since it appears that so many artists were given or had access to Kirby art and/or photostats, where did all this art end up?
Also, another thing that may be of interest: as we know, Kirby returned to Marvel in late 1975-early 1976. Within a few months of Kirby's return, Buckler's assignment as the FF's regular penciler ends (with FF # 169, cover dated April 1976). Perhaps a coincidence, but still...
Buckler briefly returns to the FF comic for a few issues some years later with #326 in 1989. He still uses the same technique, i.e., Kirby recalls. I have these all queued up, just need to get through the 1970s first.
Posted by: Shar | August 11, 2014 10:44 AM
According to Tony Isabella's blog, Gerry Conway contributed nothing to #153. Tony and Rich co-plotted it and since the book was much behind schedule, produced the whole thing in 4 or 5 days, which could partly explain the presence of Kirby swipes in that issue as a time-saving tool.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 19, 2015 11:07 AM
Actually, every single Buckler FF issue prior to #153 (#142 on)--and also after #153--contains numerous panels "inspired by" the Kirby books. This includes the handful of FF comics Buckler does when he returns to the book briefly in 1989.
The Tony Isabella blog entry referred to is here:
Posted by: Shar | March 19, 2015 1:52 PM
It's strange fnord but no matter how much the quality dips for the FF I still enjoy reading their issues through the ages. Granted I haven't hit the 90s yet. It seems like your infalliable group is The Warriors Three from Thor while mine is the Fantastic Four even though they're not my favorite Marvel superheroes. You just have to really, really, really, really try hard to make me dislike reading them and so far they haven't.
Posted by: david banes | January 25, 2016 3:38 PM
Jim Mooney does the inking for #152, as seen on the famous "Reed turns his foot into a hand" splash page, reproduced above. He should be credited as such.
And for the record, I'm cool with the foot-hand. Reed's used to thinking fast, I'd say.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 21, 2016 5:53 AM
Added Mooney. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 22, 2016 8:27 AM
Looking at the panel with Ben and Johnny walking down the street, it looks like the Torch's wardrobe inspired by Carl Sagan.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | February 10, 2018 9:47 PM
Of course Reed can turn his foot into a hand. That's why they call him "Mr. Fantastic."|)
Posted by: Holt | February 10, 2018 11:51 PM
Comments are now closed.
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