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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