Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four Artist’s Edition

Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four. World-shattering events, cosmic calamities, and Kirby Krackle—does it get any better?

Jack Kirby is the most important creator in the history of comics, and the Fantastic Four is one of his greatest achievements. First published in 1961, the adventures of Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Invisible Girl and the ever-loving Thing introduced a bold new era in comics. Kirby’s dynamic storytelling, coupled with Stan Lee’s poignant writing style, were unlike anything comic book readers had seen before—it literally ushered in THE MARVEL AGE OF COMICS!

Now, with the cooperation of the Jack Kirby Estate and under license from Marvel Comics, IDW is proud to present the first Jack Kirby Fantastic Four Artist’s Edition! Including Fantastic Four Annual #6, the 48-page groundbreaking story that featured the birth of Franklin Richards! Also presenting issues #82 and #83, guest-starring the Inhumans–plus more stories and a beautiful gallery section of some of Kirby’s most incredible pages, all scanned from the original art!

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As with all AE format material (Artist’s Editions, Artifact Editions, Gallery Editions, Art Editions, Studio Editions, etc), this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index. Also, see What is an Artist’s Edition and our Artist Index.

After you open the book to the first page of art, the realization that what you hold is a masterpiece of modern graphic storytelling in its original form overwhelms and takes hold of you, completely. Every silver age fan must own this book. Bask in these images and prepare to immediately spend $100.

Alright, I guess we can proceed with our normal AE review format. Four complete issues, 71, 82-84 and Annual 6, from Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott’s run of Fantastic Four; yes, complete, with all pages scanned from original art. That doesn’t happen often. And those scans are clear, without any issues. The gallery section of covers, splashes and additional pages is wonderful, but fills me with a sense of loss that those issues’ other pages aren’t readily available for another Artist’s Edition.

For me the lure of original Kirby art is getting to see those faces and hands when he did a close up. Expressive, immersive, superb. Man of man, those Sinnott inks!

It’s remarkable how well these pages have aged; there are a few yellowed but most are off white to light tan. The page margins are covered in notes, but because they were trimmed when printed we lose out on what appears to be half or more, especially on the sides. Blacks are deep and some pages show gradients while most don’t. A few paste up corrections.

Cristescu’s design is clean and without much colour. There is a chapter divider at the end of each issue and an issue “announcement” page before, so we get quite a few places for design to come through. These wonderfully employ panel enlargements of varying sizes, each well placed. The chapter openers use a blue grey for the banner, and the cover and title page mix that brown and brick red. The blue grey seems at odds with the brown and brick red.

Production is the usual excellent IDW standard. Sewn binding of thick matte paper stock. I frequently found the binding a little too tight, where pages couldn’t be smoothed out. The book comes shrinkwrapped in a cardboard case with a small colour sticker showing cover and UPC. The cardboard case is back to the old three tab design.