Fantastic Four #79 (1968)

The conventional wisdom around the Fantastic Four is that it was the perhaps the greatest of all Marvel comics from around issue 20 to issue 70. Most people seem to be believe that in terms of grandeur, innovation and pure excitement, those 50 or so issues are the heart of the series. That’s the time in which Lee and Kirby seemed most in synergy with each other. During that era, Jack Kirby seemed to create a new character or world nearly every issue. In those fifty issues, we first met such characters as the Black Panther, the Inhumans, the Silver Surfer and Galactus, and so many others.

Rumor has it, however, that towards the end of the run, Jack Kirby was becoming increasingly frustrated with the primacy of Stan Lee at Marvel. Apparently Jack felt that he was creating iconic characters but wasn’t receiving the fan’s love, as Stan was, nor a fair share of the profits gained from his creations. That’s part of why there were few major characters created at Marvel between 1968 and Kirby’s move to DC in ’71.

There’s no questioning the brilliance of the core of the Lee/Kirby run. But even the later issues of their Fantastic Four run have some very outstanding touches. Take FF#79 as an example. In that issue, the Thing has been transformed back into his human form, Ben Grimm, through some machination or other by Mr. Fantastic. Meanwhile, the Invisible Girl is pregnant and everyone is very worried about her. For the first eight pages of the issue, the focus is almost completely on domestic scenes and not on action. And even in these quiet scenes, we can see why Jack Kirby was the king of comics. The scenes have passion and warmth, a welcoming sort of calm that harkens back to his masterful work on the romance comics genre that Kirby co-created in the 1940s. We’re never bored by these scenes; they zip along both because we care about these characters, and because Kirby and Lee make the stories interesting.

The early, quiet scenes help lend the ending real poignance. Forced to turn, due to a villainous attack, back to being the grotesque Thing, we see everything that Ben has to give up in order to be a hero. It’s a wonderful ending.

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One Response to “Fantastic Four #79 (1968)”

  1. Unknown Says:

    I\’m speechless… that is what makes great fantasy ! I\’m guessing these comics go for sick jack nowdays. Do they reprint these?

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