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365 Reasons to Love Comics #221

Riddle me this: What’s big, green, and has spectacular purple-hued fashion sense? (What’s that coming over the hill? Is it an archive? Is it an ARCHIVE!?)

8/9/07

221. Fin Fang Foom

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Some of you probably thought the answer was “the Hulk.” ‘Fraid not. No, it’s Fin Fang Foom (yes, “Fin,” not “Fing”), the greatest comics monster of them all! Groot is brilliant, yes, and more indicative of the Marvel monster comics of old, but Fin Fang Foom is definitely my favorite. He’s also proven to be the most popular, and has become completely enveloped by the superhero universe. Also, he has a cool name. Perhaps it is even the coolest of names.

The glorious green Chinese dragon dude first appeared in Strange Tales #89 in a story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It’s your standard monster tale– big beastie wakes up, wreaks havoc, is cleverly defeated by a lowly human. The story takes place in “Red China;” the hero of the piece wakes Fin Fang Foom up in order to defeat a Red invasion force, but the creature becomes unchecked and has to be put back to sleep with magical herbs and stuff. It’s a pretty interesting tale that features gorgeous Kirby artwork; Finny is beautifully and intricately brought to life. You can see it above.

The silliest aspect of the story lies in the existence of Foom’s pants. It was long ago, you see, and the Comics Code didn’t want a naked dragon running around, or so the story goes. Hence, to prevent a draconian super-schlong from flopping about, purple shorts were provided. I think he carries the look well and it adds to his kitschy appeal. Others disagree. What do you think?

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Future creators would not forget the great Fin Fang Foom, however, and he made his reappearances. He battled It, the Living Colossus, he found himself swept into Iron Man’s rogues gallery (and made it into the Iron Man cartoon), and he was impersonated by the Midgard Serpent in Walt Simonson‘s Thor run. Good times were had by all. Too bad he never showed up in Marvel’s Godzilla series, though.

Foomy’s undergone a modern resurgence as well. He appeared in an issue of Marvel Adventures Spider-Man by Peter David and Mike Norton; he got the spotlight in the first two issues of Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen‘s brilliant and irreverent Nextwave series, where the shenanigans were turned up to 11; and he headlined the Fin Fang Four, a one-shot from a recent Marvel Monsters event by Scott Gray and Roger Langridge. That one was warm, funny, and a damn fine read. Seek it out! The creators later reunited for a story in the Marvel Holiday Special from last year. Its title? “How Fin Fang Foom Saved Christmas.” You can read the whole thing here, courtesy of Newsarama. It features Finny and Wong, the right hand man of Dr. Strange, versus Hydra Claus. Yes, it truly is as awesome as it sounds.

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One aspect I especially love about Fin Fang Foom is that he totally defies continuity. He often gets killed off, only to return again unexplained. Sometimes he wears purple pants, sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes he’s green, sometimes he’s orange. Sometimes he’s an Elder Dragon Lord from ancient times, and sometimes he’s a space alien. You can see him shrunk down to a measly seven or eight feet and working as a chef in the Baxter Building, and you can see him as a big dummy who wants to put former members of X-Force into his pants. Creators are able to do whatever they want with him, and that kind of freedom is extremely refreshing, coming from one of the Big Two. But hey, who’s going to tell a giant psychic shape-shifting super-strong fire-breathing kung fu dragon what to do, eh?

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Forget Puff the Magic Dragon, or Smaug, or that Sean Connery one, or Charizard, or Magellan from Eureka’s Castle, or even Lockheed. Fin Fang Foom is the greatest dragon of them all!

Well, okay. Except maybe Trogdor the Burninator. I’ll give you that one.

For more on Fin Fang Foom, hie thyself to the Marvel Appendix.

9 Comments

We all love Fin Fang Foom.
He is in every way our superior.

Fin Fang Foom= 3 F’s

Trogdor = S + another different S and a few spineties.

By my math that’s 3 capital F’s vs 2 capital S’s and a lower case s. 3 > 2.5. Fin Fang Foom clearly wins.

What a splendid creation.

Kirby and Lee missed a golden opportunity a few years later when they introduced Dragon Man in Fantastic Four. He was said to be an artificial life form created by some mad professor or something, but the truth was obvious – he’s clearly the secret son of Fin Fang Foom, right down to the shorts. Just imagine a Kirby/Sinnott tag team match of Ben and Johny vs. this father and son Dragonic Duo, working their way through whole city blocks of midtown Manhattan.

Frankly, I fear the factor of FFF facing the FF was feared too far-fetched (or even frivolous) a fight for the fans to face. Go figure.

And oh, some may wonder about the woman in all this.
Who was she, the secret love of Fin Fang Foom, and mystery mother of the sort-of kinda half-human Dragon Man?

Well, how fast can you figure?

Hint# 1 – Not a Marvel character. (To the best of my knowledge at least. These days anything is possible, I know).

Hint# 2 – She’s technically not a fictional character, despite the frequent and fervent wishes of many.

Hint# 3 – Her likeness appeared in a Grant Morrison Hellblazer issue. (OOO what a giveaway).

Hint# 4 – While most guys likely found her as arousing as Ed Asner in drag, Cleveland on Family Guy thinks she’s hot. “What you don’t like powerful women?” (OOO OOO OOO what a giveaway).

Hint# 5 – As Ozzy Osbourne (in drag) might sing, “I am Iron… Lady!”

@ Adam Jones
You seem to have forgotten Trogdor’s beefy arm that looks like a jumbo shrimp. I say that makes it a tie.

That said, Fin Fang Foom F-ing Rules, (couldn’t come up with a 5th ‘F’ word there.) Another great pick.

Fin Fang Foom is da man! Well, okay, he’s an ancient giant oriental alien dragon, but whatever :)

I always thought FFF was a great character. He’s got an unconventional appearance (the rather flat, humanoid-like face), a cool alliterative name, and those purple shorts. He works great in both serious tales (Iron Man vs Fin & the Mandarin) and comedic stories (Fin Fang Five). And I thought the FFF stories drawn by Roger Langridge were awesome. Langridge’s style was just perfect for depicting old Finny.

While everyone loves his shorts I think it’s Fin Fang Foom’s face that really sets him apart. Instead of a generic monster face it’s gentle and surprisingly expressive. It’s hard not to love a monster that looks like an oversized koi.

Or on second thought maybe it is the shorts that make him work.

Oh, what am I saying, everything about Fin Fang Foom is great.

the big triple ‘f’ is looking particularly snazzy in his new adi granov incarnation – shame no pic, update?

Yep, Fin Fang Foom is totally awesome. One of those characters that’s just instant fun.

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