08/16/2018

Caleb Orecchio here with a Kirby Fantastic Four sequence I’ve been thinking about.

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Fantastic Four no. 18, 1963; drawn by Jack Kirby and inked by Dick Ayers

I swear I think about this Kirby sequence from Fantastic Four no. 18 once a week. When I was a growing up, superheroes were becoming more and more “realistic.” That’s what the fans wanted. “Believable” superheroes. They demanded superheroes follow the logic of The Bourne Identity or something. Captain America was invading the Middle East (The Ultimates), The X-Men wore leather jackets (The New X-Men), I could go on and on. I loved that crap and still do in a nostalgic way, but as I would start investigating comics’ history in reverse I began to appreciate the unrestricted imagination of the early masters. The Golden Age superheroes had such whacky, bizarre adventures that had their own hermetically sealed logic. If you’ve ever read really early Jack Cole, for instance, you know what I’m talking about.

That’s a big factor in my appreciation of Kirby. Throughout his career, without exception, The King maintained a sense of unchained imaginative ferocity from The Golden Age that the Silver Agers didn’t quite harness (and into the modern age). This is a small example, but when I think of this sequence of The Super Skrull transforming his head into a battering ram to headbutt The Thing I am reminded of how such whacky imagery burns itself into the folds of the brain.

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