Thanks to Mike Gartland and John Morrow, The Kirby Effect is offering Mike’s “A Failure To Communicate” series from The Jack Kirby Collector. – Rand
Part One was first published in TwoMorrows’ October 1998 Jack Kirby Collector 21.
This started out simply enough; I was reading FF Annual #3’s “Bedlam At The Baxter Building!” when I noticed on page 2 that Doctor Doom wasn’t using his hands to operate his machine. The owner of the original art was nice enough to send me a copy and upon viewing, my suspicions were confirmed. Kirby’s margin notes had Doom still recovering from his battle with the Thing in FF #40’s “The Battle Of The Baxter Building!”, so he couldn’t fully use his hands yet. To Kirby, this was the reason Doom used a machine to attempt to ruin the wedding. Lee, however, ignored this totally in favor of high drama, thereby changing Kirby’s reasoning for Doom’s motive. Thus Lee has Doom using the machine as a grand gesture of revenge and contempt; Kirby had him use it because he couldn’t attack the FF personally.
There are many examples of art and dialogue not meshing correctly in the Kirby/Lee books. Some may cite the “Marvel Method” of producing the books as the reason. There are small examples in the early years, becoming more noticeable in the books produced between ’64-’70, books where Kirby was pretty much plotting the stories on his own. This also helps to explain why there are so many more Kirby margin notes on the art from this period. Once Kirby had his story established on paper, he sent it to Lee, who as editor and dialogue writer would keep what he considered essential (or couldn’t change because the accompanying visuals were too obvious to alter through dialogue) and change what he wished for reasons of drama, continuity, or whatever his intention was at the time.
With this in mind, we begin a series of articles showcasing stories and/or separate examples of art and words not mixing correctly; or one man’s view of the story differing from the other’s. We are not attempting to prove that either man was right or wrong, or deserved more credit than the other; it is simply an ongoing dissertation of facts that will be presented for you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions from. Of course, we hope you enjoy it as well.
Before going further, I would advise you to read four pages from “The Reason Why!” by Kirby/Lee. First read it using Jack’s margin notes only, as this is how Kirby intended the story to go and how Lee received it before making changes. Then go over the story again, this time reading Lee’s dialogue. Then if you wish, go back to this article where my opinions are. I want the reader to draw their own conclusions before reading mine.
That Would Be Inhuman!
Jack’s Inhumans pretty much seemed to be one of his evolving creations. It began with one character, Medusa, eventually segueing into the Inhumans about a year later, finally leading to their origins about two years later. Although Jack did give a brief one page semi-origin in FF #46’s “Those Who Would Destroy Us!”, he would eventually expand on this to give a more detailed origin after the creation of one of his other races—the Kree—connecting the two races through story. Jack introduced his take on the Inhumans in the back-up story section of Thor (although there’s evidence to suggest that Jack originally did one long story for the first issue of a proposed 1960s Inhumans comic, and when it was shelved, the story was split up to make these Thor back-ups). The story printed here was originally published in Thor #147 and is part of Jack’s multi-part Inhumans origin story.
As his margin notes bear out, Jack intended for the Inhumans to be already fully aware of their origins. They know that they are advanced humans, descended from the Kree (through technology). They knew what the Sentry was and have dealt with it before. The Kree experiment that changed humans began to go awry when the advanced race separated themselves, rather than develop along with the non-advanced races. They also began conducting dangerous, forbidden experiments. This brings the Sentry, who comes to warn them of the risk and danger, and attempts to halt it, but he arrives too late. Upon this realization, the Sentry warns them that they will be shunned by their fellow man; in essence they are no longer human but have made themselves In-human. As far as the Sentry is concerned, this was a failed Kree experiment.
Lee, for whatever reason, changes the basics of the story. The Sentry is unknown to the Inhumans; it is he who informs them of their link to the Kree for the first time. It was the Kree who separated the race from the other races. The Sentry is there to observe for the Kree. He witnesses the results of the advanced race’s experiments and is pleased; dubbing them Inhumans, he considers the Kree experiment to be successful.
Thus for the sake of drama (or vanity?), Lee turns a tale of foreboding into a success for the greater glory of the advancement of mankind. Where Kirby’s Sentry warns, Lee’s encourages—two takes on one story. Was it that important to change the meaning of Jack’s story simply for the sake of optimistic drama? You be the judge. If anything, it clearly shows two people “collaborating” in different directions!