Ulik, MODOK and the future Adam Warlock were all part of another great year for the King.

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

By 1967, Marvel editor Stan Lee knew exactly where to use his top artist, Jack Kirby. Together, “The Man” and “The King” whittled Jack’s output down to two main titles that year, with two main side-projects just to make things interesting. One might say it became a true “Summer of Love” between the Marvel creators and their fans at that time.

Stan and Jack continued to infuse FANTASTIC FOUR with way-out wonders and swingin’ splendors in ’67. They kicked off the year with a multi-issue tussle between the FF and Doctor Doom, and then wasted no time tossing them into a battle with the Negative Zone’s Blastaar in FANTASTIC FOUR #62, and the alien Kree Accuser named Ronin—another stand-out Kirby design—in FANTASTIC FOUR #65.

Though the fans might’ve been unaware of the history-making events occurring in FANTASTIC FOUR #67, Stan and Jack introduced another great concept in that issue’s “Him.” Jack’s visuals on the golden-skinned godling seemed a bit subdued and minimalistic, perhaps, but the character continued on to transform into Adam Warlock a few years later, one of Marvel’s most enigmatic yet engaging stars.

In the pages of THOR, Jack’s other blockbuster assignment, the Thunder God met his physical equal in Ulik the Troll in THOR #137, Kang and his Growing Man in THOR #140, and the Kirby tour-de-force of the Super-Skrull in THOR #142. Thor himself suffered under an almost-complete loss of his Asgardian powers in THOR #145, allowing Jack the opportunity to portray the majesty and grandeur of the character in an Earth-bound, civilian-dressed form.

After a break from Captain America’s adventures in TALES OF SUSPENSE, Jack returned to the strip along with Stan in TALES OF SUSPENSE #92 to kick off a storyline that illustrated the great depth of feeling from Cap for Agent-13, one of Nick Fury’s valued S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. After that, Cap met MODOK, surely the most unique Jack Kirby-designed character of the entire year, in TALES OF SUSPENSE #94, and temporarily retired to try and live a “normal life” in TALES OF SUSPENSE #95.

Apart form all the danger and drama delineated by Jack in 1967, he also poked some fun at himself and the rest of the Marvel pantheon through Stan’s latest brainchild, NOT BRAND ECHH, a comedy-parody mag. Utilizing Jack sparingly, but effectively, Stan included his star artist on the introduction of the Silver Burper in NOT BRAND ECHH #1, Sore, Son of Shmodin in NOT BRAND ECHH #3, and the ever-lovin’ origin of none other than Forbush-Man in NOT BRAND ECHH #5. What a way to go-go!

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more on Jack Kirby and join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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See how a Kree warrior went from spying on Earth to protecting it!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

For legions of readers, the name Captain Marvel instantly leads to images of Carol Danvers flying around, punching bad guys and being generally awesome. However, as many longtime fans know, she’s but the latest in a line of characters to use that name at the House of Ideas.

The first debuted in 1967’s MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #12 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. Seeing as how Carol teamed up with the earlier Captain Mar-Vell in this week’s GENERATIONS: THE MIGHTY, it seemed like the perfect time to look back at the latter’s origins. 

Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) #12

Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) #12

  • Published: December 01, 1967
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: August 17, 2010
  • Cover Artist: Gene Colan
What is Marvel Unlimited?

As the issue opened, a Kree ship approached Earth with Colonel Yon-Rogg in charge. He ordered Captain Mar-Vell to head planetside even though it flew in the face of protocol. Even though he and his medic-girlfriend Una thought the colonel planned on betraying Mar-Vell, he did his duty and continued on the mission.

Decked out with a protective green and white suit, emerald helmet, air-ject belt, universal beam blaster and a potion that allowed him to breathe Earth air for an hour at a time, the captain leapt into action.

Thanks to his own remembrances, we came to understand what brought him to Earth: the destruction of Kree Sentry #459 as seen in the pages of FANTASTIC FOUR #64 plus Ronan’s defeat by the FF in the following issue! 

Fantastic Four (1961) #64

Fantastic Four (1961) #64

  • Published: July 10, 1967
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Almost immediately, Mar-Vell stumbled upon a missile test that went sideways. While searching for the cause of the failure, the operators quickly discovered Cap’s presence and set out to investigate. Not wanting to threaten his mission, he ran away, changed into Earth clothes, hitched a ride and got himself a room at a nearby hotel.

There, the colonel teleported a wrist monitor onto Mar-Vell. He then received a message from the Imperial Minister of the Supreme Intelligence that he would be the new Kree agent on Earth. Only success would be tolerated, failure would result in death.

Literally flying solo on a strange planet with no back-up, Captain Mar-Vell continued his adventures in the following issue, written by Roy Thomas where he not only took on the identity of Walter Lawson, but also met Carol Danvers in her first appearance. From there he transitioned into a solo series, CAPTAIN MARVEL, which ran from 1968 to 1979. Three years later, in MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL: THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL, the world lost a hero as the Kree warrior succumbed to cancer that started developing thanks to his battle with Nitro in CAPTAIN MARVEL #34

Captain Marvel (1968) #34

Captain Marvel (1968) #34

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Flash Forward

Not counting time travel and Vanishing Points, Captain Mar-Vell continues to be one of the few dead heroes who hasn’t come back. During Civil War, though, it seemed like he’d come back from the dead as seen in CIVIL WAR: THE RETURN. That version of Mar-Vell continued on in five issue CAPTAIN MARVEL series which eventually crossed into Secret Invasion and revealed that the Skrull Khn’nr had been masquerading as the beloved character. It turned out that his mental programming failed and the Mar-Vell identity actually took over, so even after learning the truth about himself, he remained loyal to Earth and fought against the Skrulls. After fighting a losing battle that eventually killed him, he crossed paths with Noh-Varr and encouraged him to carry on the legacy of Captain Marvel which he did in the pages of DARK AVENGERS.

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David Baldeón looks back at the introduction of the FF’s greatest foe!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

Sometimes a comic comes along and changes everything for a reader. For SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE artist David Baldeón, it turned out to be FANTASTIC FOUR #5. As he explained in yesterday’s Kirby 100 installment, seeing the King’s work in that classic 1962 issue in a Spanish reprint completely changed how he looked at comics. He left behind other books and fully focused on Kirby!

Looking back at this issue, it’s no wonder that it so completely captured the future artist’s imagination. Not only does this installment introduce the world to none other than Doctor Doom, but it also features kidnapping, villainous origins, time travel, and the male members of the FF playing pirate!

“I’m not sure I took it all in,” Baldeón recalls. “Not in the first read, at least. It was all image after image after image. The nets, Blackbeard Thing, the sequence of Thing putting on his pirate disguise—I had never seen something like that. Mr. Fantastic stretching from boat to boat! That panel alone broke all the ideas I had in my head about comics. And Doom’s story! It was just too much. But I do remember the feel of ‘there’s so much more.’ There [are] other stories behind and around this thing I’m reading, it’s all part of something bigger, and not knowing exactly what was exciting and enticing.”

To get into a little more detail, the issue kicked off with this new villain, Doom, vowing to defeat the Fantastic Four. Back in their building, Johnny and Ben get into a fight over the Torch’s Hulk comic book before Reed and Sue break it up. They really stopped, though, when Doom surrounded their building with electrified cables and asked for Sue to come up, followed soon by the others.

Fantastic Four (1961) #5

Fantastic Four (1961) #5

What is Marvel Unlimited?

“I think this probably was the first time I saw Doctor Doom,” Baldeón remembers. “I had already read quite a few Marvel comics, but mostly Spider-Man. And of course, I didn’t have the slightest idea of who he was and what he meant! I did know, though, that that was not your average, run-of-the-mill villain. That design!”

Doom showed his true evil by bringing the team back to his castle and then demanding Mr. Fantastic, Thing, and Human Torch go back in time to steal Blackbeard’s treasure and return with it. Thrust into the past, Thing donned Blackbeard’s togs while Reed and Johnny dressed as standard pirates and they got the job done. Though Doom clearly became the most memorable part of this story, Blackbeard Thing has also taken on a life of its own.

“Honestly, I think it was just Kirby’s magic,” says Baldeón. “The Thing as Blackbeard is just one of those ideas that just cannot work or make any kind of sense, unless you’re Kirby and do it effortlessly, with just the right amount of epic and comedy and power and pure raw energy to make it not only possible, but iconic.”

Upon the team’s return, Doom turned out to be a robot, setting the stage for a recurring twist still used to this day. The real Doom then began to suck all the oxygen from the room, but Sue saved the day by rescuing her teammates. In the end, they escaped with their lives, but didn’t get their hands on the villain who would become nearly synonymous with the team itself!

“Looking back at it now, it’s just incredible that there’s so much information and so many concepts seamlessly contained in just one issue,” Baldeón concludes. “It has not lost one ounce of power, and it still works like clockwork. It is strange to think of ‘clockwork’ when talking about such an apparently raw, untamed sci-fi/fantasy story. But still, there it is. The pacing, the comedy. You can see why it is a classic. I go back to it and completely understand why it made such an impact.”

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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The King helps introduce the Silver Surfer, Galactus, Black Panther and much more!

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

Imagine a year in which the entire comics industry changed, and for the better. While the rest of the world danced to the beat of the British Invasion, thrilled to spy adventures on the big screen, and smiled ear to ear from the high camp on their televisions in 1966, Jack Kirby stood in the middle of a bonafide revolution in comic books.

In FANTASTIC FOUR #48, Jack and Marvel editor-writer Stan Lee brought a silver star down from the heavens to change the life of their family of super heroes forever. Legends tell of Lee’s astonishment to see a silver man on a surfboard in Jack’s art for the issue, and asked who it might be. The artist figured their bran-new cosmic baddie, Galactus, needed a herald of sorts, and the Silver Surfer sprang to life before the writer’s eyes. Soon, the herald would eclipse his big, purple master in popularity, and Jack’s simple design would go down in comics history.

The so-called “Galactus Trilogy” of 1966 showcased other Kirby art flourishes, such as Galactus himself, sporting a look that could only be described as Galactic Chic a la Jack Kirby. As the story continued into FANTASTIC FOUR #49 and FANTASTIC FOUR #50, readers marveled at Galactus’ “attack dog,” his mind-boggling personal spacecraft, and the ultimate weirdness of the Ultimate Nullifier, the one device that set the world-devourer quaking in his space-booties. It’s hard to imagine any other artist illustrating the tale and it creating an indelible mark on comics still felt to this day.

If that didn’t constitute a revolution, Lee and Kirby wasted no time in filling the rest of the year with such triumphs as the poignant “This Man, This Monster” story of FANTASTIC FOUR #51, the ground-breaking introduction of the Black Panther in FANTASTIC FOUR #52, and the return of the Silver Surfer in FANTASTIC FOUR #55. Lee, knowing Jack’s penchant for delineating Doctor Doom, also arranged to end the year with the newest assault by the Latverian monarch in FANTASTIC FOUR #57.

Across the Rainbow Bridge in fabled Asgard, Stan and Jack promoted their Thunder God into his own book with THOR #126, and in an effort to put their star through his paces, tossed him into the fires of Pluto’s underworld to rescue the wayward Hercules. Jack’s art never looked better as he fashioned incredible set pieces to make us believe in Pluto’s evil and the fiery world around him. Thor later met a living planet named Ego in THOR #133, and pondered the mysteries of the High Evolutionary—another fantastic Kirby design—in THOR #134.

Jack’s inventiveness and creativity extended past his art, of course, and over a few issues of Nick Fury’s adventures, he proved it by not only co-plotting a few stories with Lee and others, but handling full scripting chores along with his cover and layouts on STRANGE TALES #147.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Two of the Fantastic Four tie the knot, Hulk fights Thor, plus more!

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

Even a casual Marvel reader in 1965 might’ve believed that Jack Kirby worked on every single issue of every single title the House of Ideas published that year. The truth of it stands as something less than that, but Marvel editor and writer Stan Lee knew a good thing and ensured Jack’s presence across the line in varied ways, and with a concentration where the Kirby touch would bring comic book gold.

First and foremost, Lee and Kirby’s flagship book remained Jack’s true focus at the midpoint of the 1960s. In FANTASTIC FOUR #32, after a battle with the strange android Dragon Man, Reed Richards received the answer he’d hoped for from his marriage proposal to Sue Storm, setting up one of the true monumental moments in comic history: the wedding of Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Girl in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3 that summer.

Not to rest on their laurels, Stan and Jack also introduced the Frightful Four in FANTASTIC FOUR #36, brought Daredevil in for a guest-spot in FANTASTIC FOUR #39, and following Gorgon’s introduction in FANTASTIC FOUR #44, unveiled their next big idea, the incredible Inhumans, in FANTASTIC FOUR #45 to round out the year.

Over in Thor’s universe, Jack illustrated one of the greatest clashes of comics, the Thor-Hulk match fans clamored for, in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #112, as well as designing a villain for the ages, Absorbing Man, for JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #114. In addition, Jack’s images of the robotic Destroyer impressed fans in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #118, but perhaps the real stand-out moment of the year in Thor’s world came in the introduction of Greek demi-god Hercules into the ongoing drama in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY ANNUAL #1.

Jack’s penciling duties for 1965 also extended into Captain America’s solo series in TALES OF SUSPENSE. For the first part of the year he produced covers and simple layouts for others to follow, but for his and Stan’s powerful team-up between Cap and Nick Fury in TALES OF SUSPENSE #78, he provided full interior art. From there, the duo planted dynamite under Cap’s world with the return of The Red Skull in TALES OF SUSPENSE #79, and the amazing Cosmic Cube saga beginning in TALES OF SUSPENSE #80.

Speaking of Nick Fury, Jack’s visions of technological wonders expanded exponentially when he and Stan promoted the sergeant into their newest concept, S.H.I.E.L.D., in the landmark STRANGE TALES #135. For the next several issues of the mag, Jack would do layouts and covers, helping guide his former World War II star into the Swingin’ Sixties.

Jack relinquished penciling chores on AVENGERS in 1965, but also helped out with layouts and covers, same as with SGT. FURY and TALES TO ASTONISH. Over in UNCANNY X-MEN he worked to illustrate the memorable meeting of the young mutants and the Avengers to fruition in X-MEN #9, and introduce the savage Ka-Zar in X-MEN #10.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Carlos Pacheco provides a look back at a classic Kirby character intro!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

When it came to tackling big ideas, Jack Kirby never shied away. He created comics that dealt with everything from Nazis and racism to the origins of reality and how the divine interact with man. CABLE artist Carlos Pacheco has always appreciated the way “The King” explored these concepts.

“For my favorite Marvel Kirby issues, I’m afraid that I won’t be very original saying that the issues that go from FANTASTIC FOUR #44 [to] #67 contain what Marvel comics always was: a creative explosion,” shares Pacheco. “Inhumans, Black Panther, Galactus, Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom, the Negative Zone, Him, and the Hive. What [writer] Stan [Lee] and Jack did in those is impossible to repeat. Anyway I’m very fond of the last two issues, #66 and #67”

In FANTASTIC FOUR #66 and #67, from 1967, Alicia Masters disappears and her boyfriend, the ever-loving, blue-eyed Thing, wants to find her, while his teammates think she might have simply left without saying anything. In reality, she’d been taken to the Citadel of Science where the lab’s members had created a supposedly perfect human with the power to blind anyone who came near. They planned on sending Masters to their creation so she could sculpt “HIM” and give them an idea of what they’d made.

Fantastic Four (1961) #66

Fantastic Four (1961) #66

  • Published: September 10, 1967
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

“Kirby mythology goes beyond men and supermen, he established a relationship between men and gods—and demons,” Pacheco explains. “Men play to be gods creating a superior form of life as it happens in those particular FANTASTIC FOUR issues; a being that cannot be understood by human perception and we need a blind woman to understand it, an intermediary between this god and the rest of humans—even the ones that create him—to perceive what is beyond our knowledge. To translate the 4th dimension to elements of the 3D one. I don’t remember the first time that such a secondary character gets so relevant role in a story.”

To that point, Alicia remained nearby when the cocoon containing HIM opened, releasing the wildly powerful individual onto the world. Before zapping the Citadel of Science away, HIM proclaimed, “This planet of humans is not for me—not yet—not till  another millennium has passed!” Eventually the being took on the name Adam Warlock and traveled the spaceways as a messianic figure, spreading his influence across the cosmos.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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The King helps usher in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and much more!

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

Although he’d already knocked the socks off of comic book fans the previous year with a collection of incredible debuts, Jack Kirby teamed once again with Marvel editor and writer Stan Lee to ensure that 1963 offered up as many if not more fantastic firsts.

Perhaps supreme among that year’s debuts stood AVENGERS #1. Lee and Kirby took their biggest stars to that point—Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Ant-Man, and The Wasp—and brought them together in a single dream team. Kirby’s proficiency at juggling multiple characters paid off in spades in a story that gave equal time to all the heroes, plus included the villainy of Thor’s half-brother Loki just for good measure. Fans responded enthusiastically, and the creative duo notched their belts with another hit on their hands.

Not content with just one new team of super heroes, Jack designed another set to be launched not as guest-stars or back-ups in another title, but in a book of their own right out of the starting gate. X-MEN #1 introduced teen champions with a little “x-tra” going for them: mutant powers. The mysterious Professor X brought in Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman, and Marvel Girl to battle Lee and Kirby’s newest criminal creation, Magneto, and the world of comics would never be the same again.

Jack, a veteran of combat in World War II, found much to dig into when he helped kick off a new war series called SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS in 1963. Just like with  their super hero teams, Kirby and Lee endowed the platoon of soldiers and their commander who populated the book with duffel bags full of personality, and their stories with all the action and pathos Marvel fans began to demand.

Over in the world of the Fantastic Four, the duo’s superstars from the year before received their very first Annual issue, an immense tome illustrated solely by Jack. The volume included a sprawling battle between the FF and the Sub-Mariner, several pages of pinups of the foursome’s fearsome foes, and an expansion of the scuffle between our heroes and Spider-Man from the webslinger’s first issue of his own new title—all this for a mere 25 cents cover price.

In their regular book, Marvel’s first family enjoyed Jack’s art for the very first crossover story from the House of Ideas, the Hulk-FF clash in FANTASTIC FOUR #12, the debut of The Watcher and his exotic moon base in FANTASTIC FOUR #13, and the Super-Skrull’s arrival in FANTASTIC FOUR #18. All these amazing new characters benefited from Kirby’s sense of design and wonder, cementing their role in the ever-growing Marvel Universe.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Jack Kirby and Stan Lee create a world-shaking foe and unlikely new ally!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created to change comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

No one came up with better, more long-lasting villains than Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. Their FANTASTIC FOUR run alone brought some of the Marvel Universe’s biggest baddies into existence—ranging from Monstro and the Skrulls to Doctor Doom and Galactus!

“If anyone is going to surpass ‘The King’ as far as creating characters, he or she hasn’t been born yet,” notes MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR writer Brandon Montclare. “Or at least hasn’t started their careers, as no working creator can extrapolate that kind of output!”

For Montclare, the Devourer of Worlds, Galactus, holds a great deal of significance, thanks in part to the difficulty he had getting his hands on the story that ran in FANTASTIC FOUR #4850 from 1966.

“FANTASTIC FOUR #48 was mythic before I ever got to read it,” Montclare describes. “Silver Surfer was my favorite character growing up. Even before I read those [issues of] FANTASTIC FOUR, he had a mystique of being a different and special character. The cosmic force Galactus was equally so! I’m envious of older fans who experienced that on the newsstand. But I couldn’t afford a FANTASTIC FOUR #48! And I recall there actually being FANTASY MASTERPIECES reprints only of the John Buscema stuff, but even those were older and hard to find!”

The first issue in the trilogy tied up an Inhumans thread running in a prior storyline. The Watcher then appeared to warn Reed Richards and his team of an upcoming threat posed, first by the mysterious Silver Surfer, and then by Galactus himself!

Fantastic Four (1961) #48

Fantastic Four (1961) #48

  • Published: March 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Face-to-face with the world-eater, the quartet jumped into the fight, though as Ben Grimm described their initial futile efforts in issue #49, “He didn’t even feel it!” But thanks to the group’s persistence—as well as a change in allegiance by the Silver Surfer and the looming threat of the Ultimate Nullifier—Galactus decided the planet not worth his trouble and left, exiling Norrin Radd to Earth in the process.

“Reading all of the Stan and Jack FANTASTIC FOUR comics, when I finally got around to it, was an eye-opener,” Montclare recalls. “I don’t think anyone has come close to doing what they did on FANTASTIC FOUR. I think there’s indeed a ton of great Fantastic Four comics, but they were squarely super hero and very ‘Marvel Universe’ by the time I knew them. The early Fantastic Four, despite the crossovers and recurring characters, always feels like an exploration story.”

FANTASTIC FOUR #48-50 served to continue the establishment of the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe. While readers had already met the Skrulls, the alien race made another appearance in this tale, doing their best to avoid a visit from Galactus. Future writers would take inspiration from these early galactic insights to help build what now stands as an all-important aspect of the universe.

“I love Marvel Cosmic,” Montclare explains, “As a kid, I started in a decade past [writer and artist] Jim Starlin, so two decades past Kirby. But seeing those stories, you really can feel that the whole cosmic branch of Marvel started in that book—and really just with Jack’s visuals. From the outlandish designs to posed grandeur to even the classic Kirby Krackle.”

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Ben Grimm struggles with his role in this Lee-Kirby classic!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us this month to celebrate Jack ” King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created to change comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

Jack Kirby worked nonstop on FANTASTIC FOUR from its launch in 1961 all the way through 1970’s #102. During that time, he and Stan Lee created some of the most memorable characters in the Marvel Universe, ranging from the First Family of Comics themselves to Galactus, Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, and beyond!

One of the most beloved stories in that run came right in the middle with FANTASTIC FOUR #51, a tale known as “This Man… This Monster.” And that particular issue happens to be a favorite of HOWLING COMMANDOS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. artist Brent Schoonover—so we sat down to discuss it with him!

“I was lucky to get a pretty beat up copy [of FANTASTIC FOUR #51] for cheap at a comic convention when I was a kid,” he explains. “I was all about getting old comics as cheap as I could on my allowance growing up. That is one of the most iconic stories of all time.”

The tale takes place in the immediate aftermath of the team learning about the Inhumans and then facing off against Galactus. The June 1966 issue kicks off with a striking cover of Sue Storm pleading for help from Ben Grimm as Reed Richards looks trapped in a force field. And—unlike the usual gung-ho hero we’ve all come to know and love—The Thing simply looks down at his hands, seemingly unsure of himself.

“You open it up to this amazing image of Ben Grimm standing in the rain and it just hits you that, while everyone in the FF really seems to love their powers, Ben is the only one who truly came away worse than when he went in on that space shuttle launch,” Schoonover says. “He could have become one of Marvel’s best bad guys, but he always did the right thing.”

Fantastic Four (1961) #51

Fantastic Four (1961) #51

  • Published: June 10, 1966
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Ben’s first words in the issue come on the next page, in the form of a thought balloon, reading, “I’ll never be human again! I’ll live—and die—just the way I am!” Moments later, a stranger offers him shelter from the storm—and Ben agrees. No simple good Samaritan, this particular person turns out to be a Reed Richards-hating mad scientist who drugs Grimm’s coffee and uses a device to steal his rocky features, leaving Ben in his helpless human form!

A few days later, this impostor tests out his new look by walking right into the Baxter Building and gaining access to one of Reed’s labs. Not long after, the actual Ben barges in, but gets dismissed by Reed and Sue, who refuse to believe he’s actually who he claims to be!

This leaves Reed ready to try his latest experiment, which required Ben’s superhuman strength. In exploration of a way to move faster than the Space-Time Barrier—like The Watcher, Galactus and The Silver Surfer—Reed requires the Thing’s might to keep him tethered to his machine and, if necessary, pull him back if he hits any snags.

Upon arriving at what he first called “the Crossroads of Infinity,” Richards experiences something no one had ever seen before. Here, readers thrilled to one of Kirby’s brilliant collage pieces. “It’s just a wonderful example of how Kirby could take such a human story and add a mighty visual hook to it to keep the reader entertained,” crows Schoonover.

Reed pulls on his tether for help, but the impostor Thing doesn’t respond—until realizing that he’d become more like the hero he’d replaced than he ever intended. Though too late to easily pull Mr. Fantastic back, he grabs another piece of the chord and, rather than saving Reed, finds himself being pulled into the Negative Zone. Though crashing towards utter destruction, Reed tells the fake Ben Grimm that he remains one of the best men he’d ever known and, despite all odds, the fill-in Thing decides to perform a last heroic deed and manages to throw Richards back to safety.

Back on Earth, the real Ben Grimm makes his way to see Alicia Masters, though the scientist’s death in the Negative Zone reinstates the Thing’s original rocky form. Ben Grimm, his super-self once again, returns to the Baxter Building and gets the full story from Reed and Sue.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100!

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The Fantastic Four battles monsters to usher in the Marvel Age!

With so many classic creatures on the loose in Monsters Unleashed, we turn to their earlier adventures thanks to Marvel Unlimited.

Some might think that the rebirth of the super heroes at Marvel with FANTASTIC FOUR #1 rang an immediate death knell for the giant monsters who had ruled the roost for the previous few years, but that’s not quite the case. In fact, the two carried on side by side for a while.

FANTASTIC FOUR #1 marks an interesting merging of the two genres as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby pitted their brand new first family of comics up against, you guessed it, giant monsters. Just look at the cover if you don’t believe us!

The issue from 1961 began with each member of the team already equipped with their powers out in New York City until a mysterious figure sent out a Fantastic Four flare that grabbed their attention.  Upon the group getting together the reader discovered that Reed Richards called the meeting. After recounting their cosmic ray-filled trip to outer space that granted them amazing powers, the quartet focused on the task at hand: stopping The Mole Man from sending his enormous monsters surface-side to destroy nuclear plants.

Reed tracked the creatures to a place called Monster Isle and all four set out to investigate. There they first encountered incredible creatures and then their leader, Mole Man. He explained that the surface world had shunned him because of looks, so he retreated underground where an accident left him mostly blind. Still, he turned the negative into a positive and soon mastered control of the subterranean creatures.

Fantastic Four (1961) #1

Fantastic Four (1961) #1

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He ordered them to destroy the nuclear plans in hopes of sending his minions on a full-on destruction mission. This, of course did not sit well with the fledgling heroes who soon made a break for the exit with Human Torch sealing up the tunnel after them along with their leader.

Mole Man has returned numerous times with his monsters to fight the Fantastic Four as well as other heroes in the Marvel Universe. While this marked the first time the FF has gone up against the kinds of monsters that preceded them, it would be far from the last.

Creators in the early 60’s like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby quickly learned the popularity of huge, wild creatures which has inspired writers and artists to continue mixing them with super heroes in a variety of ways including Monsters Unleashed!

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