In my opinion... It's Fantastic!

A column article, Busted Knuckles by: Beau Smith

Sometimes I have to remind myself to start this column out like that so I'll know and you'll know how to take the words and thoughts I'm tossing out.

It's one of those everybody's right and everybody's wrong kinda things. Opinions, we've all got them. 

Recently, I broke out my Essential Fantastic Four volumes 3 and 4. I've got the individual issues in my weathered long boxes, but as a comic book reader and collector, you know what a pain it can be digging out comics you bought when you were a kid.

As I've mentioned many times here in Busted Knuckles, I love Marvel's Essentials and the DC Comics's Showcase Presents books. They are a must for any comic book reader of any age. I read these two volumes back to back over the week. After doing so I can honestly say that…in my opinion…issues # 39 through #83 are the best work as partners that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ever did. These issues are a wonderful example of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at their peak together. They were in the perfect creative partnership at the perfect time. Their strengths and weaknesses joined, made the perfect comic book. I mean that.

When read back-to-back, these issues are like the ultimate movie before grand special effects and CGI hit the movie screens. Stan and Jack, along with the great Joe Sinnott and Artie Simek, give comic readers some of the most exciting stories and art in the history of comic books. So many wonderful characters fill these pages: the Sentry, Ronan the Accuser, Him, (Warlock), the Inhumans, Psycho Man, the Black Panther, the Silver Surfer, Galactus, Wyatt Wingfoot and so many more. Fantastic Four was THE flagship book for Marvel Comics in the 1960's. This was where new characters were introduced and old characters were reborn. 

The pace of these issues that I mentioned are more than full throttle, they're hyper speed. The best part is that the story isn't left behind, it gallops right there with the art and the action, It's seamless comic book story telling. You would be hard pressed to find anything that has been done in the last 30 years that can match this. I mean that. Jack Kirby packs so much action and emotion into each panel; he had amazing energy and you know it inspired Stan to layer each character with every page. These issues looked great in color, but there was something about seeing them in the black-and-white-only version of Marvel Essentials that really opened my eyes to the true power of Stan & Jack. Trust me, this comes from a reader that has read and read these issues many times over in the last three decades. 

Stan Lee's ability to add humor to the characters through their dialogue has always been a inspiration to me as a writer. I think this is something that is really missing in a lot of Marvel and DC superhero comic books today. Stan was a master of making the Fantastic Four a family through their actions and interactions. Each issue is a textbook on how to write mainstream characters. A lesson so many could learn from.

So much time and care has been put into these stories, I'm amazed they could put it out on time every month. That's another example for today's creators and publishers to set as their own goal. These stories also stand the test of time. Fantastic Four Annual #5, reprinted in Essential FF volume 5 is proof. There is so much suspense and even sci-fi-horror at the evil that Psycho Man brings to the table in this story. As a creator I sit and wonder what it was like for Stan and Jack to come up with this different and interesting villain. It might have been as simple as Jack drawing the character and noting to Stan that the guy could control base emotions with this tablet/iPad looking thing he carried and then Stan coming up with the meaty background flesh to put on the bones that Jack handed over. I just know that I'd loved to have been there.

If you've never read any of these issues then I strongly suggest you pick up Essential Fantastic Fourvolumes 3 and 4. Just last weekend at Mid-Ohio Con in Columbus, Ohio I saw these and other volumes on sale with dealers for a mere $5.00 each. You cannot pass up deals like that. Also, to you readers that grew up on these issues, I suggest you pick up these volumes as well and give yourself the treat of seeing these stories in beautiful black and white. Your heart will race and your eyes will pop- in a good way, of course.

Enjoy, amigos.



Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Fantastic Four #64
Marvel Comics
Art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott

I remember seeing an in-house Marvel ad on this issue of Fantastic Four and writing it down in my school notebook so I could hunt it down at the grocery store or drug store. I had to have it. The Sinister Sentry looked like the ultimate action-figure before they were known as action figures. I just knew this issue was gonna be a slobber-knocking, smash-mouth saga….guess what? I was right! This still stands as one of my all-time favorite Fantastic Four issues. This would be a great issue to download on my iPad.



Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Jill Arrington

When I was a kid and thought of beautiful women, they were either movie stars or actresses on TV. You'd never find jaw-dropping beauties doing the sports, weather or presenting the news. Times have changed.
These days, some of the best looking women in the world are doing just that, reporting the news, sports and weather. I'm glad of it. A perfect example of this is the blonde beauty of ESPN and FOX Sports, Jill Arrington. She's a pleasure to look at and listen to as she reports on football from the sidelines and the studio. Her dad is former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Rick Arrington so I guess football is in her blood.



The Roundup

Here are some Fun Factoids from the Footlocker of Beau Smith:

  • Human Target starts its new season this Wednesday (November 17th) on FOX.
  • Beth and I saw the movie Unstoppable this past weekend. It was a true white-knuckle ride.
  • My dog Chubb had eye surgery this week. She's doing fine, but has to wear the crummy cone collar for two weeks. She is not happy about it.
  • Fearless Frank Cho did a great Ape sketch in my sketch book at Mid-Ohio Con. He mocked me as well.
  • Wynonna Earp: The Yeti Wars Graphic Novel comes out next month! Order it! (OCT100439 is the order number.)
  • Reading: Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and My Sister Stole my Mother's Boyfriend by Barbara Oakley.
  • Time to go to the post office and pick up my mail.

Until next time,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch


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