12: The Battle of the Baxter Building (with Jeet Heer)

Jeet Heer–national affairs correspondent for “The Nation,” master of intellectually omnivorous Twitter threads, and Jack Kirby scholar–joins Douglas to discuss Fantastic Four #39 and 40. Topics include Doctor Doom as Hobbes’ Leviathan, Kirby’s personal background and how it informed Fantastic Four‘s characters, the proto-Doom in Challengers of the Unknown #4, the Inhumans’ story as an allegory for Jewish assimilation, and the F.F. as a Kennedy-era Democratic coalition.

The movie serial Jeet mentions that might have inspired Doom is “The Fighting Devil Dogs”! And here’s a bit of the Jack Kirby/Wally Wood artwork from Challengers of the Unknown #4, which Jeet observes has some strong similarities to Doom’s first story:

I wasn’t sure at the time we talked which, if any, Marvel comics named their creators on their covers before Daredevil #5 (cover-dated December, 1964) namechecked Wally Wood. Lee and Kirby are mentioned on the cover of Fantastic Four #10 (January, 1963), but it’s also worth noting that Lee, Ditko and Heck get top billing on Tales of Suspense #47 (November, 1963):

After we talked, Jeet followed up by sending me an image of “the earliest of the proto-Dooms, Kromo from Jumbo Comics #1 in 1938. It’s one of the earliest strips Kirby did and features a brilliant scientist with a deformed face who tries to swap minds with his victims”:

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