As some of you already know, I’ve been steadily working my way through the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby run on Fantastic Four for the first time ever, and today, you get one of the results: an in-depth analysis of Fantastic Four #50, what it meant for comics storytelling and how it forms the foundation of modern comics.
I ended up doing quite a bit of research (by which I mean I read a lot of comics) in preparation to write this article, and as long-winded as I get over at ComicsAlliance, there were actually a couple of things I didn’t get to mention about the aftermath of the issue.
For one, it didn’t go unnoticed by the Distinguished Competition, specifically ISB favorite/greatest comics writer of all time Bob Haney, who parodied the Galactus saga a year later in the pages of “Metamorpho,’ where a two-foot tall alien called the Thunderer, heralded by “Neutrog the Forerunner,” arrived on Earth and could only be defeated with a guitar that shot laser beams. I covered this story way back on ISB classic, and finally reading its inspiration makes it even better. Also of note, Haney referred to Metamorpho as “The World’s Second Greatest Comics Magazine (But He Tries Harder).” I think it’s pretty clear that the guy was a fan of Stan and Jack — the stories read like affectionate parodies rather than vicious ones.
It’s also worth noting that while today it’s almost universally seen as a classic, fan reaction to the story at the time seemed about as mixed as you’d expect. There actually aren’t too many letters discussing the Galactus story in the following issues (though the Black Panther’s appearance shortly after was met with a lot of discussion, and rightfully so), and what did get printed actually seemed to trend towards the negative.
In the article, I mention the letter complaining that Galactus was a “run-of-the-mill” villain, but a letter in FF #56 goes a little further:
The Fantastic Four reached new heights of glory with the advent of the Inhumans, but they have been steadily going down the drain ever since. The first step was the appearance of Galactus in #48. Galactus: A scientific menace with a devilish apparatus for the elimination of all life on Earth… blah!!! He was defeated, after the retribution of the foolish Silver Surfer, in three issues of pure trash. […] The next thing you know, the FF will be fighting ‘The Creature from Beneath the Garbage Can’ with his uncanny ‘Onion Gun.’ Finally, the Earth is saved as the FF defeat him with Reed’s ‘Fantasti-kitchen Rubbish Disposal Unit!’ Enough!! Enough new menaces for the FF to battle! Enough super-scientific hogwash! It’s time the FF met (or should I say, re-met) some of their old foes. Perchance the Sub-Mariner.
This letter absolutely blew me away. I mean, not being into Galactus is one thing, but writing in to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966 to tell them to stop creating new characters? Yeesh.
At least it’s a nice reminder that comics readers didn’t just suddenly lose their minds with the advent of the Internet.