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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Explore an alternate world where Cap and Bucky made it out of World War II!

Every day we celebrate Captain America’s 75th anniversary by looking deep into the Marvel Unlimited archives and going through some of Steve Rogers’ most thrilling adventures. Happy diamond anniversary Sentinel of Liberty!

What if? It’s a question that many fans ask themselves when discussing various comic book stories over the years. In 1977, Marvel started asking the question officially with a series of the same name. In the fifth issue, Roy Thomas, Don Glut, and George Tuska decided to examine what could have happened if Captain America and Bucky both survived World War II thanks to the Watcher’s ability to view alternate histories.

In this story, Cap and Bucky still find themselves trying to stop Baron Zemo’s drone plane, but their motorcycle moves a bit faster which gives them enough time to rip out enough wires to deactivate the craft.

Still kicking in the modern world, the heroes stick around long enough to see the rise of Communism, Nick Fury die in the Korean War, and Bucky retire from heroics in the 60’s. Still, the newly christened S.H.I.E.L.D. needs a leader. Cap declines, but nominates Buck for the job which he easily earns just in time to start facing off against the equally new Hydra.

What If? (1977) #5

What If? (1977) #5

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Never quite comfortable with his S.H.I.E.L.D. gig, Bucky eventually takes over for Steve as Captain America with Rick Jones filling in his former costume. Not one to sit around, Steve takes charge of the super spy organization. Hydra continues to offer troubles for the heroes who re-team for a last mission that leaves one of them dead.

Filled with enough tangents to stock a limited series these days, this issue features plenty of interesting looks at what makes Captain America tick by showing two different people donning the costume. You also get a new take on the character that removes the man out of time aspect that we’ve all come to expect. Even with the differences, Steve Rogers continues to show that the man, not the events of his life, make him a hero.

Cap Declassified

Along with the Avengers, Captain America actually first shows up in WHAT IF? in the fourth issue. In that one, Roy Thomas, Frank Robbins, and Frank Springer pose the question: What if the Invaders had stayed together after World War II? In this case, Bucky and Cap still wind up on the wrong end of the drone explosion, but the other heroes continue on with The Spirit of ‘76 and later Patriot filling in for Steve. This explanation later found its way into the popular Marvel mythos as a way to explain those issues of CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS that came out after the war.

Next, Captain America and Diamondback compete with Baron Zemo for the mystical Bloodstones while also running into Crossbones for the first time!

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