Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Colors Of Doomsday!

The cover to Fantastic Four #77 remains one of the more colorful examples of artist Jack Kirby's work on the title, with its striking use of red to highlight not only the lab machinery of the story's villain, Psycho-Man, but also the villain himself. Without a production copy of the cover to possibly offer more information, it's unclear whether those choices were made by Kirby or the issue's colorist; but as a footnote to the PPC's recent review of the story, it might be interesting to take another look at the cover alongside its sister cover from its reprint in Marvel's Greatest Comics, published seven years later in 1975, which makes some noticeable changes that are apparent at first glance.

With the change in Psycho-Man's coloring being the most obvious, it's compelling to speculate on why he might have been originally cast in red. With his lab and equipment similarly cast, the uniformity no doubt adds to the framing of the entire cover as it sections off the different aspects of the story within. We could also assume that whatever intense energies Psycho-Man is unleashing so determinedly with his equipment are being reflected on his form and in the immediate vicinity of the room in a blazing shade of red. (Maybe the cover caption should instead read, "...Shall This Lab Endure?")

With the substitution of the MGC masthead and the change in its background color--as well as the loss of Kirby's detailing of Psycho-Man's equipment--only sparse elements of that detailing remain, too few to perhaps justify giving Psycho-Man the same coloring, though you could also assume that the decision might have been made to make this 7-year-old story's villain more distinctive for newer readers. (His hue has also been adjusted in his clash with the Torch.) And while on rare occasion the raiment of Galactus has been rendered in a darker color, the MGC cover has updated it to be more consistent with the character in later appearances (while his eyes have received a little touching up, as well).

The backgrounds and coloring in the various segments have also been altered. The ceiling detailing in the Torch area is touched up a bit, while the background coloring in all the segments is substantially adjusted for no discernible reason (with the exception of the Surfer's background, which gives more of a sense of the character being in space). The three FF members in the upper left segment lose almost all of the area's "Kirby krackle" effect, perhaps because of the intrusion of the MGC masthead, while the new coloring of Psycho-Man's machine tendrils are shifted to a black hue in that portion so as not to clash with the coloring of the FF's uniforms, presumably.

Changes have also been made with the addition of two extra captions--the Surfer's taking advantage of the character's selling power, now a figure well established with readers since his appearance in the original story. "When Strikes Psycho-Man...", however, appears to be a pointless insertion--its styling making it seem as if even the caption is unsure of its own impact. On an unrelated note, I still have a quibble about one portion of Kirby's original work--the fact that the two segments featuring the male members of the FF seem almost redundant. Do we really need to see the Thing gasping twice? With the bold caption "...Shall Earth Endure?" being the only wording present on the cover to entice the reader, why not substitute the lower left segment with a scene that features, for example, the people of Earth fearful of their approaching fate?


-3- said...

Love the side-by-side comparison so we can study the differences.
I like the Surfer's background better on the MGC cover, but it wouldn't have worked with the original scheme.
Given the state of comics at the time, it could very well be that the decision to recolour was based on simply not having an accessible copy of the original for reference. It wouldn't be surprising for the time.

Anonymous said...

One boo-boo with the recolored MGC version is that it makes the Psycho-Man's forehead green like it's part of his costume/helmet. That ridge-filled brow out to be orange like the rest of his gorgeous face!

Comicsfan said...

Could just be a protective plate for his forehead he's wearing for the occasion, Anon--after all, look at who he's going up against! (But I think your observation is well made.)

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