Wednesday, March 11, 2015

It's Not A Party Without The Frightful Four

This side-by-side comparison of covers looks downright frightening:

(Imagine if the Frightful Four had been named "the Frightening Four," instead. Wonder if it was one of the choices up for consideration?)

When artist Jack Kirby redesigned the cover to Fantastic Four #36 for the (mainly) FF reprint mag, Marvel's Greatest Comics, he had the luxury of being able to cut to the chase of the battle, since at this point readers were likely already familiar with the Frightful Four. In their original appearance, though, the evil FF's cover presentation came across as something of a novelty--deadly in purpose, certainly, but with costumes and abilities that looked as if they could challenge their law-abiding counterparts. Their premiere cover had to pique the reader's curiosity, rather than give too much to sift through.

As we can see, the original cover conforms to the main elements of the story. The FF are celebrating the engagement announcement of Reed and Sue, while the Frightful Four are creeping up on them outside of the Baxter Building. (No, I don't know what the heck Medusa is lowering herself from. The Wizard's ship landed on the roof of the building, so what is it her hair is hanging onto--a passing weather 'copter?) We also see two members of the group who have received recent makeovers. The Trapster initially changed his costume in an issue of Strange Tales:

While the Wizard ditched his civvies for a more practical battle suit:

As for the Sandman, he's in the same boat as the Human Torch, the Iceman, et al.--it doesn't really matter what he's wearing, since its appearance becomes moot when he goes into action. (If you really want to see how impractical a costume is on a villain like the Sandman, have a look at the cover to Fantastic Four #61.) But we can say exactly the opposite for Medusa, whose ability and menacing appearance are hampered by, of all things, a cowl:

The MGC cover is also reasonably accurate with the events of the story, once the action begins. It's pretty amazing how much Kirby has been able to cram onto the page here, given that he only has about two-thirds of the cover space to work with. With the exception of the Torch (who is away from the Baxter Building during this attack) and the absence of Alicia Masters, the scene represents what went down in the story. Kirby of course has freed Medusa from her cowl, perhaps to avoid confusing readers who are used to seeing her unencumbered--while Sue is... well, Sue is... alright, Sue looks to be fretting, as usual.

A cool tableau of the FF letting down their hair with their super-friends at the engagement party!

(Can you spot the "oops" moment that got past editing?)


Dave S said...

I much prefer the original cover- I think the MGC cover is cluttered and less effective than the FF one.

It is a mystery what Medusa is hanging from, but something similar happened in an issue of the Amazing Spider-Man when Spidey was shown swinging DOWN onto the top of the Empire State Building! (Can't remember the issue without checking, I'll try to find it later though.)

As for the oops moment, is it the Wasp with blonde hair? Looks as though Cap's shield and Iron Man's faceplate have been incorrectly coloured too though...

Comicsfan said...

I guess that's why they call Spidey "amazing," Dave! ;)

As for the tableau scene, you're a little cold, I'm afraid. The "oops" is a little more subtle--even Rick seems to be scoping the room for it!

Anonymous said...
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david_b said...

I really do like the reprint cover..!! I have a VF copy of the original, but will have to hunt down the 2nd one.

Love this site..!!!

( does my PayPal account...)

Comicsfan said...

Colin, you nailed it! How would Alicia know who Ben was asking about, when she's unable to look across the room to see who he's referring to? Even if she had already been introduced to Xavier when he arrived, the person making the introductions would hardly have noted that he's bald. :)

david_b, thanks very much! That MGC issue will also have some other tales in it (featuring Iron Man and Dr. Strange), so at least you'll be getting a bargain. ;)

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