Latest Fantastic Four Omnibus makes Silver Age Trifecta

Fantastic Four Omnibus 3 (Stan Lee & Jack Kirby) collects Fantastic Four 61-93, Annuals 5-7 (from April 1967 to December 1969). This one has a ton of extras, including FF stories from Not Brand Ecch 5-7 from 1968. By my count, 79 pages of extras:

Besides letters pages for every issue, the three introductions from Masterworks vol 7,8,9 and the Not Brand Ecch material, we also get:
– All nine Richard Isanove/Jack Kirby painted softcover masterworks covers (without the logo), 2009-2013.
– All three Alan Davis Essentials covers, front and back (w Marie Javins & Guy Major) from 1998-2000
– Eight pages of Marvel’s Greatest Comics 1/4th sized covers, reprints covering the issues in this omnibus. I have about half of these “original reprints”.
– 13 pages of Kirby pencils!! unfortunately a few were photocopied poorly so that the margin notes can’t be clearly read, but a majority of the pencils look fantastic and most of the notes are clear. The pages form 75-76 are absolutely stunning and look shot from the originals. 89-90 look like mostly photocopies. Still cool to have these included. Thank you Marvel!
– Two unused covers in Mighty Kirby pencil!! #64 & 71, with roughed in Kirby Krackle
– #65 original cover art, before revisions were made to the Krackle.
– 6 pages of original interior art (#61, 63, 66)
– bullpen photos printed in FF Annual #7

Mass Market Edition of Fantastic Four Omnibus 3, cover art by Alex Ross.

The Not Brand Ecch material is very funny; some of the better stories. marie Severin pencils the first one and Jack Kirby pencils the other two. Stan the Man writes all three.Now with that out of the way…

This is the third volume of Lee and Kirby on the FF (they collaborated on another 9 full issues, 94-102, as well as the butchered 108, that was heavily revised).

They are still in the zone with this volume, producing more masterpieces. I’ll try to give highlights without revealing too much of the plot.

We get the first appearances:

– Blastaar, the Living Bomb-burst
– Psycho-man
– The Sinister Kree Sentry
– Introduction of the Kree Empire
– Ronan the Accuser (recently seen in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie)
– Kree Supreme Intelligence
– Warlock, while he was known as “Him”
– Tomazooma, the Living Totem (okay, he’s kind of forgettable)
– Annihilus, the Living Death that Walks
– Torgo

We also get plenty of the Inhumans, Black Panther and the Silver Surfer, all three right at the height of their guest-starring popularity.

The Volume starts off with an excellent Sandman three-parter that evolves into a clash with Blastaar and Reed adrift in the Negative Zone. Plus, we get the Inhumans! Kirby’s pacing and Lee’s scripting have the feel of a movie. The scene where we first see the cosmic criminal being attached to a meteoroid… wow! I can’t imagine reading this for the first time in 1967.

Fantastic Four 62 “…And One Shall Save Him!”. Sandman and Blastaar against the FF. Art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott.
Reed in the Negative Zone encounters a deadly being imprisoned on a meteor drifting in the void.

The Sentry and Ronan give us an awesome Kree two-parter.

After Psycho-man and the Inhumans, in Annual 5, we get “this is a plot?” comical look into the inner workings of the 60s Marvel Bullpen, several pinups, and a Silver Surfer vs Quasi-modo match!

Fantastic Four Annual 5 “Divide and Conquer!”. The Inhumans and FF versus the Psycho-man. Art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott.

#66-67 has the Mystery of the Beehive. The three scientists are a trip in this one!

#68-69 has Ben Grimm against the FF, spurned on by an impostor posing as Dr. Santini. This story is a throwback of sorts to the earlier years of Ben when he was more monstrous in personality.

#70-71 have the FF facing the mighty Android.

#72 Silver Surfer vs the FF. ‘Nuff Said!

Silver Surfer explodes through New York City like a runaway comet.

#73 has the FF vs Spider-man, Daredevil and a de-powered Thor, all with the threat of Dr. Doom overshadowing this melee. (okay, Doom never appears, but they do talk about him).

I’m a sucker for team battle covers. Fantastic Four #73 is a great one by Jack Kirby!

#74-77 has the Surfer, Galactus, cosmic FF dopplegangers, and the Psycho-man in an amazing cosmic masterpiece.

#78-79 has a great Ben character thread, along with the Wizard and Android Man (again with an android, but these are both excellent high-octane action)

80 has Wyatt Wingfoot and Tomazooma, the Living Totem

Annual 6 has the epic first showdown with Annihilus, always one of my favorite FF villains.

Silver Surfer meets Quasi-modo, the living computer. Art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott.

81 has the return of the Wizard, Crystal and Lockjaw.

82-83 has the Inhumans against the Mad Maximus.

Fantastic Four #82 “The Mark of the Madman!”. Art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott.

84-87 is one of the best Dr Doom stories, really establishing his own peculiar ethos and uniqueness as a villain.

Dr. Doom, the despotic ruler of fictional European kingdom Latveria. Doom is Judge, Jury and Executioner at the water’s edge.
Is this an example of an early Google data center in Latveria? Doom telecommutes. What a set-up!

88-89 has Mole Man, definitely one of my least favorite early FF villains, but this story works well, and it begins the Skrull incursion.

90-93 is another one of my favorite FF stories. As a kid, this was right up there with the Galactus story as my top, so partly, sentimentality plays a role with me. A Skrull agent disguises himself as Reed to abduct Ben Grimm. In a plot right out of Star Trek, TOS, Ben is taken to the slave world Kral, run by a bunch of guys that look like they came right out of Gangsterland-era Chicago. This is Battleworld way before Marvel Now as Ben Grimm faces Torgo in the Arena of Death.

“The Skrull Takes a Slave!” Art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott.

Marvel really knows how to put together a classic omnibus. The jacket art by Alex Ross is excellent and appears closely aligned thematically with the new FF movie. Yes, Marvel has gone to thinner paper, but there is no gutter loss, revealing all this beautiful Kirby & Sinnott artwork. The paper allows the spine to be smaller and creates a lighter, easier to handle book.

The Direct Market Variant Edition has a dust jacket by Jack Kirby from the cover of FF#82.
Direct Market edition Jack Kirby cover from FF #82.
These three FF Kirby-Lee volumes are fantastic, each having a slightly different look and feel as they evolve the characters and further hone the Marvel Method. Highly recommended!

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