It's a Marvel Comic

Fantastic Four #18: It's A Marvel Comic 13

Fantastic Four #18, page 1, panel 1 Written by: Stan Lee

Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Whilst we're some way away from multi-issue continuing narratives and subplots that would take months to resolve, steps are being taken to provide a sense of continuity from issue to issue. This first panel from Fantastic Four #18 does so, reminding readers of the battle with Doctor Doom, providing those who might have missed it with a subtle hint to seek out the previous issue.

Meanwhile, Ben's referencing the publishing of the Fantastic Four's adventures in the Marvel Universe. But how quickly can a comics company create and print comics in the Marvel Universe? The news report seems to suggest that the battle with Doom has only been over for a matter of hours, and Ben's already complaining that people are not buying the comics. Jack had a well-deserved reputation for being a workhorse, but even he would have balked at the thought of plotting and pencilling a 22-page book in a matter of hours.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #18 on our seventeenth episode: No Funny Title Springs To Mind

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_17.mp3]

Fantastic Four #17: It's A Marvel Comic 12

Fantastic Four #17, page 1, panel 3 Story: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Picture yourself recently returned from a minute world hidden inside an atom. You've helped overthrow the rule of Doctor Doom, restoring the rightful monarchy. You've returned home, fully aware that Doctor Doom is free and on the loose in your world. Do you jump into the Fantasticar and start hunting for the incredibly dangerous villain, or do you flop into an armchair and read an issue of Tales to Astonish, starring Giant Man?

I think almost everyone would choose danger and death over early 1960s Giant Man stories (sorry Abel).

Don't forget to let us know your favourite under-rated Fantastic Four stories!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #17 on our fifteenth episode: Whence Came The Man of Asbestos

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_15.mp3]

Fantastic Four #15: It's A Marvel Comic 11

Fantastic Four #15, page 8, panel 3 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

So, the conceit behind this panel is that the Mad Thinker is orchestrating the break-up of the Fantastic Four by playing on their own desires. So, Johnny goes and joins the circus where he can show-off to his heart's content, Sue becomes a model, and Ben is offered the chance to put one over on the Yancy Street Gang. Here, we see the moment where a big company decides to hire Reed away, based on the CEO happening to pick up a copy of Fantastic Four that was left in the board room by a janitor. It's one way to do some headhunting, I suppose...

What irks me about this is the way The Thinker claims credit for this, simply because he knew it was going to happen. He does nothing to influence the event by, say giving the janitor a copy of the comic, or distracting him so that he leaves it in the right place. If The Thinker hadn't come up with this plan, the CEO would still have decided to try and hire Reed, and Reed would still have accepted his offer.

It's not quite as crazy as knowing that a monkey would set fire to a shack containing important documents, or endlessly proclaiming what will happen in 11 seconds time, but it's still pretty crazy.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #15 on our thirteenth episode: The Thinker's Fantastical Predictions!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_13.mp3]

Fantastic Four #12: It's A Marvel Comic 10

Fantastic Four #12. page 9, panel 4 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

I've waxed lyrical both on the podcast and on this blog about how much I love the conceit that in the Marvel universe, Marvel comics exist purely as a licensing entity, creating comics based on the real-life exploits of super-heroes. This panel is a very subtle example of Stan using the subtleties of this gimmick in his storytelling.

The original 'bathtub' Fantasticar has been replaced by the sleeker, more modular incarnation, and on his way down to New Mexico, Reed can't help showing it off to General Ross. However, he's not giving away the speed, oh no - he's even dropped a line to Marvel Comics to ask them not to mention just how fast The Fantasticar goes, hence this rather esoteric and wonderful editor's note.

However, this conceit does rather sabotage the entire plot of the story. We've previously seen Johnny reading a copy of The Incredible Hulk #1, so why, as soon as he sees Bruce Banner, go 'Hey, he's the Hulk!' and save everyone a lot of time?

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #12 in our tenth episode: Hulk? Smash!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Fantasticast_Episode_10_Final.mp3]

Fantastic Four #11: It's A Marvel Comic 9

Fantastic Four #11, page 1, panel 1 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Let's celebrate moving on to another issue of Fantastic Four with a glorious full-page Kirby panel!

It was traditional for Stan Lee to proclaim that he was doing things for the first time in his magazines. After all, we've already seen the Fantastic Four face such real world issues as financial destitution, a problem that would hardly have bugged Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent.

The 'first' that we see in the image today is so remarkable as an event that I wonder if it's ever been done again. The Fantastic Four go to the newsstand to pick up the latest issue of their own title, only to find the place is crammed with fans. Unwilling to wait in line, they head off home again.

Surely the Marvel Universe version of Martin Goodman would have placed them on a comp list?

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #11 on our ninth episode: Episode 9 - Patriotic Pedestrians Proceeding from Planet Poppup Prefer Poorly Produced Podcasts!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/Episode_9.mp3]

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Fantastic Four #10: It's A Marvel Comic 8

Fantastic Four #10, page 8, panel 1 Script: Stan Lee

Pencilling: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Uncredited Lettering: Art Simek

Today's post is very handy. Handy, Because it just features hands. And could be useful. Handy. Get it? HANDY!

There have been plenty of panels over the past couple of pages that could have warranted inclusion in the blog, and Stan and Jack become reluctant participants in the nefarious plots of Doctor Doom. However, it's this final panel that tickles me the most.

Doctor Dom vanishes with the unconscious body of Reed Richards, leaving our two crafty creators to look on in astonishment. Note that Stan Lee uses a very unusual way of addressing his artistic cohort - Jackson. It's not one that would stick...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #10 on our eighth episode: Don! Don! Don! Don-Don-Don! Don-Don-Don!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_8.mp3]

And check back with us at the weekend for the launch of our first ever competition!

 

Fantastic Four #10: It's A Marvel Comic 7

Fantastic Four #10, page 6, panels 1-2 Script: Stan Lee

Pencilling: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Uncredited Lettering: Art Simek

Today's long-overdue post features a lovely pair of splash panels from the pen and pencils of Kirby and Ayers!

Giving a little more insight into how Marvel comics in the Marvel universe function, we see that Reed collaborates with Lee and Kirby on the plots for their comics, presumably giving them ideas from their less-public adventures and possibly altering details to protect any secrets the team may have. Of course I wouldn't know what they are - they're secrets!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #10 on our eighth episode: Don! Don! Don! Don-Don-Don! Don-Don-Don!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_8.mp3]

And check back with us at the weekend for the launch of our first ever competition!

Fantastic Four #10: It's A Marvel Comic 6

Fantastic Four #10, page 5 Script: Stan Lee

Pencilling: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Uncredited Lettering: Art Simek

Today's post is an entire page. It had to happen at some point, I just figured it would be a heck of a lot further down the line.

After several hints, including a copy of The Incredible Hulk appearing in an earlier story, we get our first true confirmation that Marvel comics, publishers of many magazines including the Fantastic Four, exist in the very fictional universe that they have created. Doctor Doom himself bursts into the offices of Stan and Jack, interrupting the plotting of their story to put into motion his plan for revenge.

There are a couple of ways to look at this scene. The first is that Jack had already completed several pages of a completely different story, possibly featuring the Puppet Master (hence the focus on Alicia and her statues on the previous page) before the original plot was junked to bring back Doctor Doom.

The second is that Stan and Jack deliberately created several generic pages of runaround action to give credence to the idea that Doctor Doom genuinely interrupted their work.

I'll let you decide which one to go with.

In an interesting move, neither Stan nor Jack's face is ever seen inside the book. Knowing what we now know about Stan's public persona, the thought of him being happy with his face being constantly hidden rather amuses me.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #9 on our seventh episode: Don! Don! Don! Don-Don-Don! Don-Don-Don!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_8.mp3]

Fantastic Four #10: It's A Marvel Comic 5

Fantastic Four #10, cover Cover Art: Jack Kirby

Cover Inks: Dick Ayers

Today, I get to post the first cover for the blog. As this category is all about destroying the fourth wall, it makes sense that I should include an image from outside of the story itself.

I wish I knew enough of pre-Silver Age comics to definitely say that this is or isn't the first time that the creators of a comic have appeared on the cover. My gut instinct is to say no, but I have no reference for anything that would prove or disprove this. I'm hoping the comments might throw something up...

Anyway, here we have Stan and Jack looking on and commenting on the cover, a nice precursor to the events of the comic within.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #9 on our seventh episode: Don! Don! Don! Don-Don-Don! Don-Don-Don!

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_8.mp3]

Fantastic Four #9: It's A Marvel Comic 4

Fantastic Four #9, page 4, panel 7 Script: Stan Lee

Art: Jack Kirby

Inking: Dick Ayers

Lettering: Art Simek

Today's panel is probably the first ever swipe at DC by Marvel Comics! A glorious, illustrious tradition begins here!

Yesterday, we saw how high-profile financial troubles, stemming from Reed's poor financial investments, were crippling the team's activities. Today, we can see that Reed's looking for a bit of escapism by reading comic books, and bemoaning the lack of realism in the four-coloured fantasy.

Now, bearing in mind that we're still a few months away from the debut of one of the richest men in the Marvel Universe - Tony Stark - then this has to be a swipe at other comic book companies. Well, just the one. It's feasible that Reed is feeling bitter towards Richie Rich. But it's far more likely that it's a shot at DC billionaires Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen.

It starts here...

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #9 on our seventh episode: S(&)M Studios

[audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/ffcast/FF_Episode_7.mp3]

Fantastic Four #5: It's A Marvel Comic 3

 Fantastic Four #5, page 2, panel 4

Fantastic Four #5, page 2, panel 4

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Jack Kirby

Uncredited Inks: Joe Sinnott

Uncredited Letters: Art Simek

What's that Johnny's reading? Why, it's a copy of Marvel's latest smash-hit magazine, The Incredible Hulk! Why lose a page of story to a house advertisement when you can simply advertise the book in the story itself?

Sadly, this near-mint copy of The Incredible Hulk #1 would never go on to attain a five-figure value, as Johnny sets fire to it just three panels later, to spite Ben.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #4 in our third episode: Super Villain Cavalcade

Fantastic Four #4: It's A Marvel Comic 2

 Fantastic Four #8, page 8, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #8, page 8, panels 3-4

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: Jack Kirby

Uncredited Inker: Sol Brodsky

Uncredited Letterer: Art Simek

If you're following the story of this issue through this blog, then... well, good luck with that. Johnny ends up reading Golden Age comics in a flop house. As you do. Coincidentally, it's a comic featuring a bum from the flop house, who is actually Namor, the Sub Mariner.

Now, knowing everything that has happened since 1962, you have to wonder how history would have panned out if Johnny had picked up a copy of Captain America instead. Now, there's a good idea for an issue of What If?

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #4 in our third episode: Super-Villain Cavalcade

Fantastic Four #2: It's A Marvel Comic 1

 Fantastic Four #2, page 18, panel 1

Fantastic Four #2, page 18, panel 1

Uncredited Writer: Stan Lee

Uncredited Penciler: Jack Kirby

Uncredited Inker: George Klein

Uncredited Colours: Stan Goldberg

Uncredited Letterer: John Duffy

One of my favourite conceits about the Marvel universe is the way that Marvel Comics themselves exist in their own universe. The general setup is that Marvel heroes license their images and adventures to Marvel Comics, who then publish comics based on these, which are usually almost completely identical to the ones we read. There have been some wonderful stories involving this across the years, a particular favourite of mine being The Thing #7 from 1984, where Ben heads over to the Marvel bullpen to protest the poor nature of one of his issues.

So, every now and again, we're going to see Marvel Comics in The Fantastic Four, and we'll take a look at them as they appear.

Here, Reed brings along some comics with him when he visits the Skrull spaceship, and manages to pass them off as surveillance intelligence and, incredibly, averts an alien invasion! The art of Kirby and Ditko has arguably never been so important!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #2 in our second episode: Secret Invasion Tie-In