I recall reading an article in the Jack Kirby Collector years ago where I think the author talked about how this Skrull/mob story is similar to the famous Star Trek episode “A Piece of the Action” first broadcast on January 12, 1968.
I don’t think that TJKC article is online, Rand if you are out there, maybe ask John Morrow if you can post that article on the Museum site.
Here’s a fun article that touches on FF/Star Trek:
This Skrull storyline also has elements from “Bread and Circuses” broadcast on March 15, 1968.
I’m sure this has been discussed much in the past by comics experts so although I may be wrong about this here’s why I think Jack swiped concepts from Star Trek for this Skrull plotline in the same way he swiped concepts The Prisoner with the Dr. Doom story. As I mentioned a few days ago, I think Jack may have been sending Stan Lee a message: “no new characters or new, original, innovative plots until you and Goodman give me the fair deal you promised me.”
Yeah, I do think Jack probably did enjoy the Star Trek show, and clearly Jack could use any plot from the history of fiction as a springboard to tell his own story (and he often did), but more specifically whether he was sending Lee a message or not around this time, I don’t think Jack’s heart was in the FF series any more. I think he was faced with the very real realization that he was going to lose FF (and all his Marvel creations) — so not only was he receiving 0% of the credit for writing the stories at the time… one day he would have 0% input into future stories featuring his creations; he would have 0% ownership of the properties; and because he saw Lee touring the country and spewing forth his propaganda, Jack realized the day might come where he received 0% of the credit for even creating the characters (and that did happen for a time). I think Jack poured his heart and soul into his work at Marvel in the 1960s — so that must have been a tough pill to swallow.
I suspect swiping concepts from Star Trek and riffing on them may be, psychologically, how Jack dealt with the stalemate between he and Goodman/Lee. Jack still gave 100% to the artwork in these books, but in terms of the plotlines and new creations — he was done. Unless Goodman/Lee treated him like a human being and tried to reach some kind of deal with him where he was rewarded for his 10 years of service to the company, he was putting a cork in his overflowing bottle of ideas. Maybe this method of borrowing popular TV show plotlines was Jack’s best way of still putting out a quality product while trying not to give Lee new storylines that clearly Lee intended to take 100% of the credit for writing.
I do think the late Kirby FF books are fun, I love the artwork, and there are plenty of iconic images throughout, but I don’t think we’re seeing Kirby unleashed here… this is Kirby leashed. And lets face it, despite the lunatic fringe of Kirby haters out there who will bash Jack and claim he quit on sweet ol’ Stan and gave Lee a half-hearted effort here, I’m sure many of you today give 100% to certain aspects of your job, but if you are being treated unfairly — I think most people adapt a little and try to figure out a way to still give 100% in terms of their physical work, but not 100% in terms of their soul.
And it is interesting to note that like in The Prisoner storyline where the FF are captives, the title of this story is “The Thing Enslaved.”
Since the scans are poor, here are 6 pages from FF # 91. The published book looks fantastic so this just scratches the surface. It’s freewheeling late 60s comics…