Look Back: Jack Kirby Bids Farewell to the Fantastic Four

In their feature looking back on comics from 10/25/50/75 years ago, CSBG spotlights the June 1970 departure of Jack Kirby from the Fantastic Four.

This is “Look Back,” a feature that I plan to do for at least all of 2019 and possibly beyond that (and possibly forget about in a week, who knows?). The concept is that every week (I’ll probably be skipping the four fifth weeks in the year, but maybe not) of a month, I will spotlight a single issue of a comic book that came out in the past and talk about that issue (often in terms of a larger scale, like the series overall, etc.). Each week will be a look at a comic book from a different year that came out the same month X amount of years ago. The first week of the month looks at a book that came out this month ten years ago. The second week looks at a book that came out this month 25 years ago. The third week looks at a book that came out this month 50 years ago. The fourth week looks at a book that came out this month 75 years ago. The occasional fifth week looks at books from 20/30/40/60/70/80 years ago.

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Today, we go back to June 1970, for Jack Kirby’s departure from Marvel Comics.

Kirby’s final issue is tricky, because there was a “lost” issue of Fantastic Four. Stan Lee rejected Kirby’s original plot and pages for what would have been the original take on Fantastic Four #102, claiming that it wasn’t exciting enough, but then Lee re-used Kirby’s pages for Fantastic Four #108 (with a lot of revisions). So this was Kirby’s work for Fantastic Four #103 that was pushed back to #102 and ended in a cliffhanger that Kirby wasn’t around to resolve.

For his final issue (dialogue by Stan Lee and inks by Joe Sinnott), the story had a fairly mundane wacky bit between the Thing, Crystal and the Human Torch…

It’s fun to see one last Aunt Petunia reference before Kirby went.

Magneto is discovered by some Atlanteans and brought to Namor…

Who Magneto then convinces to go to war against the humans through some manipulation…

The issue ends on a cliffhanger…

In June 1970, Kirby also drew his final issue of Thor, #179 (with Lee and Vince Colletta). The issue had a Neal Adams cover…

The final page was also no big fanfare for his departure…

He was just gone. Kirby would return to Marvel five years later, but outside of some covers, he would never really return to the Fantastic Four comic book again (besides the monstrosity that was the Lee/Kirby story in Fantastic Four #236).

Soon, his DC work would begin, which we’ll get to in a future Look Back, I’m sure.

If you folks have any suggestions for July (or any other later months) 2010, 1995, 1970 and 1945 comic books for me to spotlight, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com! Here is the guide, though, for the cover dates of books so that you can make suggestions for books that actually came out in the correct month. Generally speaking, the traditional amount of time between the cover date and the release date of a comic book throughout most of comic history has been two months (it was three months at times, but not during the times we’re discussing here). So the comic books will have a cover date that is two months ahead of the actual release date (so October for a book that came out in August). Obviously, it is easier to tell when a book from 10 years ago was released, since there was internet coverage of books back then.

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About The Author

CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over a dozen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed).

He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo.

He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed.

Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at brianc@cbr.com!

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