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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 51

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s “This Man, This Monster” from Fantastic Four #51…

Enjoy!

Let’s put “This Man, This Monster” into its absolutely absurd context.

This one-shot story took place ONE ISSUE after the Galactus Trilogy (which I told you about yesterday).

So right after one of the great comic book epic tales (which, itself, took place directly after the epic introduction of the Inhumans), Stan Lee and Jack Kirby delivered a brilliant character piece about selflessness and heroism.

And then the NEXT issue introduces Black Panther!!

How crazy is that, contextually?

In any event, “This Man, This Monster” is about a jealous (unnamed) scientist who hates Reed Richards because he feels that Reed does all of his exploration and scientific discoveries because he is a gloryhound (which might seem that way to an outsider – the guy DID name himself “Mr. Fantastic,” after all). He then decides to eliminate Reed by by switching places with the Thing through some power-switcher thing.

So he shows up as Thing, but he is shocked by the goodness of the Fantastic Four, especially Reed’s selflessness, so, in a moment when he could easily kill Reed (and no one would ever know it was murder)…

It is perhaps a bit over the top, but overall, and excellent representation of the humanity of Lee/Kirby’s Fantastic Four (and the art, naturally, is excellent).

22 Comments

So glad to see this excellent comic here. It trumps the Galactus story in my mind, and is the best story Stan and Jack ever told. It might just be one of the best examples of the magic of Marvel in the ’60s.

It was collected in the back of that Marvel 50 Year Anniversary book, and they pointed out something incredible. In one scene, the Human Torch lights his thumb on fire to dismiss some college kids that are giving him a hard time. And that’s the ONLY time any of the team use their powers in this issue, and it’s as a joke. It’s a great example that the FF, and most Stan Lee books, and most GOOD super-hero books, are more about character than powers.

Beautiful stuff.

I’m surprised Marvel hasn’t identified the scientist, given him a backstory, shown how he survived (of course), and brought him back as a villain. Now that Bucky is back, this guy and Uncle Ben are next. You know it’s gotta happen sooner or later.

another moment i hoped had wound up on this list for . it showed that once some one finaly as that fake ben learned see the truth they have been blind too they can change. though felt sorry that the thing after getting the one thing he desired most to be human again wound up getting it and then back to the thing. another moment proving that stan and jack really knew how to do the fantastic four.

Thanks for 50 and 51. You made my day. Brilliant stuff.

Everyone should buy Essential FF volumes 2, 3, and 4. It’s cheap, its b&w but is a thousand pages of Lee and Kirby at their best. And get volumes 1 through 5 for the complete works.

We all know about the Grant Morrison version, right?

Doug M.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

February 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Sadly, Gerry Conway named the scientist and used his brother as the villain in his final two-part story in Web of Spider-Man.

Gerry Conway for the EPICFAIL!

Just kidding, that’s too harsh …. it’s comics. It’s surprising this scientist hasn’t been named or brought back. I think it’s a sign the high regard this story is held in.

“Let’s put “This Man, This Monster” into its absolutely absurd context.

This one-shot story took place ONE ISSUE after the Galactus Trilogy (which I told you about yesterday).

So right after one of the great comic book epic tales (which, itself, took place directly after the epic introduction of the Inhumans), Stan Lee and Jack Kirby delivered a brilliant character piece about selflessness and heroism.

And then the NEXT issue introduces Black Panther!!

How crazy is that, contextually?”

At the risk of spoiling any possible upcoming columns, you could say this about pretty much every issue of Fantastic Four between #36 and #60. It’s mindblowing how much is going on – the debut of the Frightful Four as a team with the intro of (Madame) Medusa, which leads to the intro of the Inhumans; a powerless FF forced to faced Dr. Doom, who has taken over the Baxter Building; the previously discussed Galactus trilogy with his intro and that of the Surfer; this classic issue;, the debut of Black Panther, and of Klaw; and the classic four parter where Doom steals the Surfer’s power cosmic. Not to mention, Joe Sinnott becoming the regular inker of the series with #44, which as we see above gives us gorgeous artwork.

I consider myself lucky to have been old enough to read these off the old spinner rack back in the days. You can’t recreate that sense of anticipation that a simple comic book could hold back then. I have to say that this is the heart and soul of the FF era and IMO it would go from #36 to their last Doom arc (#87)

FF #51. Battered and bruised and the most prized comic in my collection.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

February 21, 2010 at 4:37 pm

It’s surprising this scientist hasn’t been named or brought back. I think it’s a sign the high regard this story is held in.

I think one of us is confused; Conway did indeed name the scientist as one “Ricardo Jones” and had his brother Armando try to use his tech to similarly usurp the Hulk’s form and powers. Through convoluted events, Armando perished and Spider-Man was briefly transformed into a “Spider-Hulk.”

He has been named, and brought back in as close a manner as possible without actually resurrecting him thanks to a near-identical brother turning up and using the same gadget.

Lord, I wish I were joking about this, but I’m not.

Iron Maiden, I’m jealous as hell. Of all the runs to be able to read as they originally came out…The Inhumans, Galactuse, the Silver Surfer, the Black Panther, Klaw, Pyscho-Man, Him, Franklin, Blastaar, Annihilus…

Whenever I puruse through my Essentials, reprints or the very few actual originals I have from this era, I always imgaine what it must have been like to pick these up as they were coming out. I’m happy somebody here got to experience that, but like I said, jealous as all hell! :)

I wish you were joking too Omar. I’m going to go drink heavily just to forget that I even read about it happening.

Sad, why the hell can’t they leave some things alone. Like Conway couldn’ t have created some other scientist to make a machine like that. Hell in the Marvel Universe it seems like every 10th person should be able to come up with a device like that.

Don’t forget that this issue also introduced the Negative Zone. Awesome!

Along with Spider-Man’s origin, this really is probably the best example of the greatness of Stan Lee. His style certainly isn’t suited for everything, but this is exactly what it is suited for: it is “a bit over the top,” as Brian says, but subtlety’s not what it’s aiming for–it’s “operatic” in the best sense of the word. No matter how jaded or cynical I think myself, the ending never fails to get me choked up–what makes most of us cry over fiction is not sadness but depictions of great nobility and goodness, and that’s what Lee and Kirby could do so beautifully.

“–He paid the full price–and, he paid it–like a man!”

I wouldn’t call it an example of “the greatness of Stan Lee”, I’d call it a rare example of Lee not going completely overboard with unnecessary description.
One of my favorite single issues ever. As I just mentioned, a rare example of Lee writing some very nice dialog, and some of Kirby’s best pre-Fourth World pencils. Every time I look at the old FF stuff I’m amazed at how Kirby is able to give such real facial expressions to The Thing. It’s also right in the middle of one of the most creatively rich periods in comicbook (hell, I’d go so far as to say literary) history. Starting with the Inhumans Lee and Kirby went on a crazy 3 year binge where almost every issue debuted an amazing new concept and/or told a fantastic character piece.

RE: LouReedRichards
February 21, 2010 at 8:27 pm
“Iron Maiden, I’m jealous as hell. Of all the runs to be able to read as they originally came out…The Inhumans, Galactuse, the Silver Surfer, the Black Panther, Klaw, Pyscho-Man, Him, Franklin, Blastaar, Annihilus…”

Those comics made me a confirmed Marvel zombie for a long time. My brother still has that run boxed away. They’re not high grade copies if you go by the comic grading system that entombs them in clam shell packaging but they are too us. We read them to death!

Still, anybody who doesn’t have these should get the Masterworks version, even though the coloring isn’t exactly right IMO.

I found issue #49 at a flea market for $1 about 18 years ago, it had a coupon or something cut out from the inside cover. It looked like it had been read a dozen times at least.

It wasn’t in great condition, but somebody sure had loved the hell out of it! Which to me was better than any fancy grading or pristine condition. It’s not like I was ever going to sell it.

I could never have afforded a high end condition copy of it anyway.
Of course I let a friend borrow it and it’s never been seen again.

As someone else who was there from FF 45 on , let me tell you about the sometimes agony rather than ecstasy of buying off the stands.

FF 57 saw Dr. Doom steal the the Surfer’s power and take off to deal with the FF. At the end of 58 (“The Dismal Dregs of Defeat!”), he’s completely, conclusively beaten the FF (who didn’t just roll over, natch), and only Reed’s playing on Doom’s “inconceivable vanity ” (let us live as a symbol of your invincibility) keeps them from being killed. I read the yellow Next Issue box, and knew the next month would be the longest ever…

Little did I know the place I bought comics was about to shut down. No other store in town carried them. No one I knew collected them. It was years before I saw another FF (104), and more years before I found out what happened. No comics stores with back issues, no Internet…I figured maybe I’d get to the Library of Congress, someday.

(And to concur with everyone else about how packed this run was, 59 doesn’t even focus on Doom or the FF, though they show up. Its main focus is Black Bolt freeing his people from the Great Refuge by speaking for the first time, in one of Kirby’s proudest moments. I’d have had to wait till 60 to see the wrapup, in which Reed tricks Doom into flying into the Barrier Galactus set up to prevent the Surfer from leaving Earth, another introduction of an important (for many years) piece of Marvel mythology. Arguably, Annual 3-67 is the greatest run any superhero comic’s ever had. Truly, there were giants in those days…

(And Brian, please someday reprint the 2 pages or so of 58 with Ben reading a book of ghost stories; for my money, the funniest the FF ever got.)

Ouch!

KissKiss, that does sound like comic book hell or at least purgatory. I had a steady supply for comics at the local grocery stores, and a couple of halfway decent comic shops to get back issues from if I needed.

One of the big benefits to collecting in the 80’s vs. the 60’s.

I feel your pain though – that’s a damn long time to wait to find out a conclusion to a story!

Some pieces of artistic creation are so good it seems hardly possible that human beings actually made them.

This must be on the short-short list for best single issue of a superhero comic published in the 1960s – and face it, True Believers, that’s a pretty strong list! Excelsior! :D

Clever stuff.

This Man, This Monster: a great title. Hadn’t Ben been struggling with the man vs. monster issue since becoming the Thing? Of course, then, an unscrupulous scientist takes on Ben’s monstrous form. Who’s the man and who’s the monster now? And yet, the heroic sacrifice at the end: and Stan, referencing the title, gets it just right: “We’ll never know what monstrous things he had done in the past, or what monstrous plans he had made, but one thing is certain, he paid the full price, and he paid it…like a man.”

A simple literary technique that we all learn in high school. Doesn’t anyone write like this anymore? And it goes without saying that the Kirby-Sinnott art is superlative, capturing and enhancing the drama at every moment.

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