Jack draws the true heroes of the House of Ideas into adventure!

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.

We all know the basic plot of how the Fantastic Four came into being: a quartet of people went up into space, flew through some cosmic rays, and came back to Earth with incredible powers. We know the group as Reed Richards, Sue and Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm—but what if the transformations hit Marvel stalwarts Stan Lee, Flo Steinberg, Sol Brodsky and Jack Kirby?! In 1978’s WHAT IF? #11—written, drawn, and edited by Kirby—that’s the group that “The King” gave fantastic powers to in “What if the Fantastic Four were the original Marvel Bullpen?” In this alternate reality, Marvel’s then-Editor, Secretary, Vice President, and most storied artist would leave their comic-creating jobs to fight evil as the FF!

As we learn about how these familiar names became heroes, we also get to see them taking on a large purple monster-man who turned out to be Doctor Morrow, the man they’d left on a mission to meet. Before long, they entered Morrow’s laboratory—which came jam-packed with one-of-a-kind Kirby tech—and, after hours of searching, finally found the box they’d been looking for. We see a flashback to the early 60s when Stan informed Jack that some scientists planned on basing their next experiment on their comics. After Sol and Flo enter the room, they open a box that shoots them all with cosmic rays turning them into the famous team!

Readers saw the birth of The Thing, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic and Human Torch in a very different environment: Stan Lee’s office! Upon realizing that the device had been sent by a group called The “S” People, the crew got to work tracking them down when not making comics. As we came to understand, characters like Sub-Mariner wound up with counterparts in this alternate reality as well. In fact, the FF tussled with Namor as he’d come across one of the boxes himself. After convincing him they had nothing to do with its creation, Namor promised to help find the source of this power. As it turned out, the infiltrators stood right in their midst—and the “S” People turned out to be Skrulls!

What If? (1977) #11

What If? (1977) #11

  • Published: October 10, 1978
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: September 17, 2008
  • Writer: Jack Kirby
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
What is Marvel Unlimited?

This Fantastic Four and Sub-Mariner then teamed up to give chase to the invaders, ripping apart his ship in the process. The coalition also destroyed the other boxes the Skrull intended to use on Earthlings. They then carried on in their efforts to both entertain humanity and also keep it safe!

Many people have wondered how much of himself Kirby put into characters like Ben Grimm, so it’s really interesting to see him do that literally. The Kirby-fied Thing looks a bit different, but they sound the same, for the most part. Kirby also wound up being the one who didn’t quite trust the mystery box and also destroyed the one that changed them with his shoe!

The Watcher stepped in to explain that the comic book counterparts took on some of the characteristics of their creators, like, “Sue Storm was a fit projection of Flo Steinberg’s courageous dedication to a venture filled with countless dangers.” In other words, this issue offers a unique look at some of the dynamics at work during Kirby’s days at Marvel.

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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Celebrating the contributions of a key member of the original Marvel bullpen!

Marvel Comics salutes “Fabulous” Florence “Flo” Steinberg, one of the first two full-time employees of Marvel in the 1960s and an all-important figure in building the vast fan community the House of Ideas has enjoyed since its beginnings.

Born near Boston, Steinberg grew up with a mother and father who made sure she attended college, graduating from UMass Amherst in 1960. After some time with New England Telephone and Ted Kennedy’s first Senatorial campaign, she pulled up stakes and moved to New York City where she would quickly take her place in the history of Marvel Comics.

As Stan Lee’s secretary, Flo assumed the task of taking care of the ever increasing piles of fan mail and Marvel Merry Marching Society memberships. Although the company began to grow with some speed, she remained in charge of this for five years, crafting Marvel’s unique connection to its fans and—to hear freelancers tell it—creating a welcome atmosphere for all who came through the offices in person.

After five years, Fabulous Flo found herself ready to move on. While initially taking a brief detour to work in fossil fuels, Steinberg quickly re-entered the comics industry, working with Warren Publishing before coming back to New York City in 1975 to publish one of the cornerstones in the history of independent comics: Big Apple Comix.

Finally, in the 90s, Steinberg returned to where it all began—albeit at a different address. Gone were the days of the two-person office; Marvel had expanded exponentially in the years since she helped spark the revolution that made it one of the largest comic publishers in the United States. As a proofreader, “Fabulous Flo” remained with the company for the rest of her life, helping not only with what unfolded on the pages of Marvel Comics but, once again, brightening the days of those around her. She established a unique and profound connection with every member of the Marvel staff fortunate enough to encounter her, in particular the growing ranks of women working in the industry.

While the likes of Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and more may have been responsible for the unique sensibilities on display within the pages of the House of Ideas’ books, Steinberg helped solidify the community that those comics inspired in its readers. With San Diego Comic-Con unfolding at this moment, it takes little imagination to draw a straight line from her attitude and commitment in those early days to the vast network of comic book fans that gather at conventions and online to talk about their love of the characters and stories of Marvel Comics.

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The House of Ideas says goodbye to one of its most beloved members.

Statement from Marvel:

“We are incredibly saddened to hear of Flo Steinberg’s passing and send our deepest condolences to her friends and family. Flo has always been the heart of Marvel and a legend in her own right. She will be forever missed and always loved by all of us here at Marvel.”

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