Abraham Riesman, the author of True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee, joins Douglas to discuss 1964’s Fantastic Four Annual #2–which features both the first appearance of Latveria and the origin of Doctor Doom. Topics include what we know and don’t know about Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s working relationship at this point, Lee’s unusual interpretation of “diplomatic immunity,” the open question of when Doom’s mother came into the narrative, and Kirby’s uncharacteristically reserved evaluation of what he contributed to Doom’s creation.
After our conversation, I dug around for images of a few of Kirby’s original pages from that issue to see if they could illuminate some of our questions. What I found was fascinating (and inconclusive): Kirby’s annotations include jokes for Lee’s eyes (“don’t take any wooden test tubes, dad,” “they hurt you for nothin’, pop”), rather than explanations of the images–which implies that both of them knew what the story’s actual plot was going to be. (And there’s no mention of Doom’s mother in the legible annotations; above the panel with his line about “they murdered my mother,” Kirby has written “I’ll be like them someday, rich – powerful…”)