Fantastic Four: 1967

Pt. 7

1967 was basically a more-of-the-same year for FF. Kirby and Sinnott furthered their illustrative synergy, Lee and Kirby premiered a dozen ideas that bedazzled and continue to bedazzle subsequent generations, and the now formidable cast of characters intersected in unexpected and ever-twisting ways.

Is there a sense that Kirby is pulling back, ever so slightly, in '67? I think so. It will become much more pronounced in '68, but it was in 1967 that Carmine Infantino was promoted to editorial director over at the Distinguished Competition. This resulted in an exploratory phone call to Kirby about switching companies. Kirby wasn't quite ready to do so, but the wheels began turning in his head. But the real mental break from Stan/Marvel began in November 1967, according to Mark Evanier, as a result of Stan's changes to the "Him" storyline.

"Lest anyone doubt the creative input from Kirby, from November '65 to November '67 - two years where Jack was pretty much doing the stories on his own, plus plotting for other books that he wasn't drawing - from the imagination of this man came:

"Black Bolt, Gorgon, Crystal, Triton, Karnak, Lockjaw, Galactus, The Silver Surfer, Wyatt Wingfoot, The Black Panther, Klaw, The Negative Zone, The Microverse, Blastaar, The Sentry, The Supreme Intelligence, The Kree, Ronan, Him, Psycho-Man, Hercules, Pluto, Zeus and the Greek Pantheon, Tana Nile and The Space Colonizers, The Black Galaxy, Ego the Bioverse, The High Evolutionary, Wundagore and The New-Men, The Man-Beast, Ulik, Orikal, The Growing Man, Replicus, The Enchanters, The Three Sleepers, Batroc, A.I.M., The Cosmic Cube, The Super-Adaptoid, Modok, Mentallo, The Fixer, The Demon Druid, The Sentinels, and The Mimic. This is not complete as secondary creations such as The Seeker, Prester John, The Tumbler and others weren't mentioned, but they all premiered within the two-year period.

"After November '67, for the last three years that Jack worked for Marvel, you get the exact opposite; many secondary characters, but very few memorable ones. In FF, the only character of note after November '67 is Annihilus. (...) Jack does some good work with some of the classic characters like Dr. Doom, the Mole Man, and Galactus among others (but) it's pretty obvious where 'The House of Ideas' got their 'ideas' from; but now the House was being put under creative foreclosure; in fact towards the end, Jack was asking Stan to come up with ideas for the stories, which is why you have characters like The Monocle, the Crypto-Man, and a retread of The Creature from the Black Lagoon in the last few Lee/Kirby issues." 

I disagree with the totality of Evanier's conclusions re: the sole authorship of all these characters and ideas, but Kirby was certainly growing disenchanted with his creative partnership with Stan. 

Let's have a look at FF # 58-69 and Annual #5.

Sgt. Peppers! In Like Flint! The Six Day War! City on the Edge of Forever!


Doom's theft of the Power Cosmic from the Silver Surfer leads to his decisively defeating the Fantastic Four. He's talked out of destroying them at the last minute by a gambit from Reed, who plays on Doom's vanity by making him think the FF are now too unimportant for one such as he to destroy. 

The real-world implications of Doom's power grab are sketched out enjoyably. Reed addresses the globe, warning them of an impending Latverian New World Order. (We're a long way from 1961, when Reed couldn't even address New York City without setting off a panic.) A country that resembles the Soviet Union launches an air strike on Latveria, which Doom easily repels, and world leaders panic. 

The FF struggle to overcome Doom, who stays ahead of them at every turn. Finally, Reed has Army Ordnance and Stark Munitions build an "Anti-Cosmic Flying Wing" from his prototype, and it arrives in Latveria (where they have launched their final assault) just in the nick of time. Reed gambles that Galactus set some kind of trap/ enforcement on his decree that the Silver Surfer should be Earthbound forever, and he is right. Doom disappears when he chases the Wing into space and smacks into the barrier, and the board heads back to the castle to reunite (and free) the Surfer.

As with the Galactus Trilogy we looked at last time, any handful of panels here would have been better on the big screen than what we saw in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. (Or any of the other FF movies for that matter.) 


Meanwhile, Black Bolt frees the Inhumans by shattering the dome with his scream.

Such a cool visual. Goes for most of the Inhumans.

Crystal is reunited with Johnny (and there is much rejoicing), and the Inhumans initially settle on one particular island in the Caribbean also claimed by other powers, but... all in good time. The Royal Family (Black Bolt, Triton, Karnak, Medusa, Lockjaw, Crystal) move out into the world of humans while the rest stay behind to rebuild their city.


Not content with just the Skrulls and other alien and subterranean races we've seen, this year introduces a whole new race of spacefarers, the Kree, whose long-dormant sentry is discovered, coincidentally enough, on the island Ben randomly picks for himself, Reed, and Sue to vacation on a map of the South Seas. Ben tries to back out of accompanying the newlweds on a rare vacation from superheroics, but Reed says "Nonsense! With Alicia out of town, you'll just get into trouble." (Sue isn't asked.) 

In Issue 65, the Kree Supreme Intelligence sends Ronan the Accuser to Earth to make the FF pay for destroying its Sentry, but they are able to get Ronan to fire "The Weapon Supreme"  on himself. He disappears, and Reed hopes this display of Terran resistance will dissuade them from further meddling. It doesn't, of course. The Kree, like the Skrulls, will return time and again in the next few decades, often during some of Marvel's most seminal events (The Death of Captain Marvel, The Dark Phoenix Saga, The Kree-Skrull War, the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, etc.)  


A pretty good battle with the Sandman (who was never as formidable in other creators' hands as he is in Kirby's) forces Reed to open up a portal to an alternate dimension he's been monitoring: the Negative Zone. 

The Negative Zone was a showcase for Kirby to go even more cosmic with his space backgrounds and otherwordly gadgetry, but this time around, Reed (after being rescued by Triton, whose ocean-trench-swimming hide can navigate the spaceways of the Zone) brings back one of its denizens, Blastaar, who immediately "teams up" (i.e. bosses around as his lackey) with the Sandman. 

I was waiting for the Negative Zone to show up in all its whacked-out glory, as well as good ol' Blastaar, who was one of the first FF villains (outside of Doom and Galactus) to leave an impression on me, thanks to the stories Byrne set there during his 80s run. (Here's the one I remember buying off the stands, though I'd borrowed my buddy Mike's FF comics for a full year before I started allocating a portion of my allowance to the series. So, I think I may have come across the Zone before that one.) And while not much is done with the Zone itself in this issue, it still evokes much the same sense of wonder in me in 2016 as it did back then.


Here is the story that widened the storytelling wedge between Lee and Kirby to an unworkable degree. Alicia is kidnapped by a mysterious being called "Hamilton" and brought to "the Beehive," the super-lab of an organization known as the Citadel of Science. They've created a super-being but can't get near him - he (actually "Him") has gone rogue and only a blind sculptor like Alicia can get close enough to him for them to figure out what they're dealing with.

The full story is at that TwoMorrows link (here it is again) but here's the short version.

"Jack originally intended for this storyline to represent his take on Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy. Jack probably did not consciously think, 'Here's my answer to Ayn Rand'; his primary goal was, as always, to just write a good story. But in Jack's original story, the scientists are well-intentioned, with no evil plans. They are attempting to create a being totally self-sufficient, intellectually self-reliant; not encumbered by superstition, fear, or doubt; in short, a being based on Rand's absolutes. Of course such a being would be totally intolerant of those who created him; a truly Objectivistic being would not cope with the flaws in others. (But) when Stan received the first part of this storyline, he felt that changes had to be made. (He) felt that every story had to have a bad guy, so he had to come up with one. He could only choose between the being or the scientists and it was simplicity to just go the "Mad Scientist/Sympathetic Creature" route (...) When Jack (saw the dialogue Stan added) he wasn't pleased at all. His storyline had been corrupted; the entire reason for the story had been gutted, replaced with a standard comic book plot; and he was now (due to the fact that this issue was going to print) forced to change the rest of his story to support Lee's version."

"The story that Jack wanted - 'Create a superior human and he just might find you inferior enough to get rid of' - became, through Lee, just another 'bad guys try to take over world and get their comeuppance' story."

"Him" becomes Adam Warlock in subsequent Marvel continuity. The Beehive becomes the Enclave and get up to lots of mischief 



Now that section-title doesn't make much sense. I'm just trying to get across that we've reached the soap-opera-and-personal-relationships part of the proceedings, hence the "90210" zip code, but since the Baxter Building already has a zip code (10017) I fear the meaning gets a little muddled. Ah well - I'll come up with something better next time. 

As mentioned above, Crystal finally reunites with Johnny. Johnny ditches Lockjaw and his buddy Wyatt to go parking and share frappes and fries at the proverbial malt shoppe.

Her heretofore-somewhat-vague powers are defined a little better, which is appreciated. And she ends up becoming Sue's replacement when it is revealed that she and Reed are expecting child.

Ben goes through his usual mopey bullshit. And Reed and Sue continue to push gender role boundaries.

Wait - the complete opposite of that.


The '67 FF Annual introduces a character who will be a considerable thorn in the side of the FF in years to come: Psycho-Man, the only non-Micronaut-related denizen of the Microverse. Or a microverse, at least. (This is all mk1-Marvel-continuity, of course; I have no idea what happened with the microverse or Psycho-Man after the early 90s). 

Psycho Man is building a machine that will deliver his Hate rays worldwide. He needs one last thing to make his weapon operational: "Component Four." He sends his lackeys to acquire it, which they do, but they deliver it to Alicia Masters by mistake. (Oopsy-daisy!) This naturally brings the FF into things, but not just them, as the island Psycho-Man has chosen for his Caribbean lair is also the island the Inhumans have chosen as their base of operations. Furthering the coincidence/kismet of things, it is also an island owned by the Kingdom of Wakanda. (They call it "Panther Island." Not so imaginative, guys.) 

Hi-jinks ensue and the heroes manage to defeat Psycho-Man.
Not without hearing his origin story/ ingesting a few dozen super-villain-monologues, though.

The other stories in the Annual are one of those Stan-and-Jack-in-the-Bullpen little whimsies, and a Silver-Surfer sequel to the Quasimodo story from last year's Annual.

The Surfer comes across the tortured Quasimodo and imbues him with the Power Cosmic to make him corporeal.
Naturally he immediately attacks his would-be savior, so the Surfer turns him into a real-life gargoyle.

The remaining stories in '67 involve the Mad Thinker infiltrating the Baxter Building and turning the Thing into a resentful killing machine. Happens to these guys a lot! But it carries over into 1968, so we'll look at it in more depth next time, and plenty more. See you then.



  1. (1) Regardless of issues of authorship, the fact that Marvel created so many memorable characters during '65-'67 is really quite remarkable. It'd be nice to think nobody got hosed in the process, which seems sadly not to be the case; but, still, a hell of a run. Whoever deserves the credit!

    (2) That double-splash looking into the Negative Zone is righteous.

    (3) Great art all over this post, obviously, but another real standout for me is the panel in which Reed and Johnny are struggling to stay conscious while Reed tries to open the portal. The postures are very effective and dramatic there; a great example of what comics art can do.

    (4) Kirby's ideas for "Him" sure do sound hifalutin'. Not hard to see why Lee wanted to change them; not hard to see why Kirby was enraged by it. No wonder that helped break up the band.

    (5) "Baxter Building, 90210" conveyed your meaning perfectly. You won't be able to top that one -- I wouldn't even try, if I were you!

    (6) "Wives should be kissed -- and not heard!" Yikes. Not sure that flew even in 1967, to be honest.

    (7) "I am Psycho Man! Soon the MASTER OF EARTH!" Would it be gauche to make a Trump joke of some sort here? Yeah, probably so.

    (8) God DAMN, that panel of Quasimodo attacking the Silver Surfer...! That's a beauty.

    Great stuff, as always!

    1. (1) thru (4) Absolutely. With regard to (4) Kirby's ideas definitely needed someone to rein them in. Otherwise, they turned into New Gods/ Fourth World. Which is great and all, just a little messy. The "dreamspeak" in Kirby's head was wonderful and unique, and he was a monumental creative talent and definitely on the Mt. Rushmore of 20th Century Comics. But sometimes he was a little too out there and unable to bring it back to Earth.

      (5) I'm glad to hear it! I wasn't sure that worked.

      (6) Every so often I'll see something like this and have a glimmer of understanding how women over, say, 60, believe so fervently in Hillary Clinton. It's got to be remarkable to have lived in both eras. Those of us who did not can only see the stereotypical crooked politican, perhaps. Anyway, it amuses me to collect the many ways Reed was a dick to his wife.

      Glad you enjoyed. Can't believe we're already almost at the end, here.