Panel by Panel: Fantastic Four #1

Marvel is publishing Fantastic Four #1: Panel by Panel, so the Fire and Water Podcast Network is taking all the credit. But is such a book viable? Siskoid seeks out the FantastiCast's Andrew Leyland to see if it is, letting the randomizer pick one panel from FF#1 at random. You'll need to take your radiation meds for this one.

A clean look at the image in the Panel by Panel Supplemental.

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12 responses to “Panel by Panel: Fantastic Four #1

  1. So much to love about this panel, which really captures the essence of early FF in one breath-taking moment in time. The two word balloons are perfectly panicked. The left highlights the debilitating physical effects of the cosmic ray storm immediately felt by our heroes; the figure on the left it’s associated with is presumably Johnny, but I’ve always thought it fits better with Ben, who will indeed become much heavier shortly (could be Sue, too, given her power set’s dependence on a clear mental state, but it looks more like a male figure to me). The right balloon succinctly ascertains the primary cause of the group’s present troubles; given how much he harps on the point for years afterward, the deliverer of this “line in the sand” speech has got to be Reed. A lot of hard feelings being felt by both here, even as they’re flung helplessly through the zero-G cabin (When did they loosen their seatbelts, or did the rocket not have any?). I also love the thick horizontal lines of the storm zinging across the panel; that was one of my favorite parts of the title sequence to the FF’s ’67 Hanna-Barbera cartoon, and it’s just as visually engaging here. Great use of Pepto pink for an otherworldly background shade, our heroes contrasting nicely against it in an alarming red. The only element of this panel I have very little to say about is the blue machine in the bottom right corner; it certainly looks like it could attach to one of those crazy Kirby computers, but it’s not doing much for me at present. I do hope you continue breaking this issue down; that image of our four transformed heroes’ hands coming in for the pledge to a new team, Ben’s rocky digits joining at the last second, are the ultimate Little League “good game” gesture.

    1. Some great thoughts there.

      No plans to keep covering the same issue, as the randomizer is too fickle for that. Episodes of Panel by Panel have spanned more than a hundred years, multiple publishers, and even several countries!

      1. Fair enough. I’ll probably give the Little Nemo episode a listen soon as that’s a topic I’ve wanted to deep-dive for quite some time. Also, I’m a sucker for a good Chip Kidd coffee-table showpiece (“Batman Animated” is a joy to journey through), so the “FF Panel by Panel” book will definitely be on my radar this holiday season, and maybe Maximum FF too (if “P by P” doesn’t reprint the same essays).

  2. Great discussion, and a great panel to discuss. I think this is all interesting, because some historians contend that Kirby’s art in FF #1 is rather crude for his output at the time. Jack Kirby Collector #58 “Lee & Kirby: The Wonder Years” postulates Kirby’s art in Amazing Adventures #6, which came out the same month, also from Atlas/Marvel, was far superior in design and execution. So despite it’s seminal importance, FF #1 is not even the best example of Kirby’s art from the period to be enlarged!


  3. Great analysis, gents. I think you saw everything that was in the panel, and I think you avoided making up anything for which there was no evidence. That made your discussion both satisfying and informative. Also, excellent American accent by Andy on the dialogue!

    I looked up cosmic rays on Wikipedia, because I remembered from school they really could go through shielding more than other types of radiation. Turns out the “rays” thing is a misnomer from early on. They’re really high-energy subatomic particles and even some heavier nuclei. They come from the sun and from elsewhere in the Milky Way galaxy. The highest energy particles even come from outside our galaxy, possibly from supernovae.

    The Earth’s magnetic field deflects a lot of them, so they really are an issue for astronauts. They’re especially a concern for potential manned missions to Mars. The damage cosmic rays do to our cells may be far more mundane, and there’s no evidence of them giving anyone fantastic powers, but otherwise Stan and Jack were pretty spot-on. Stan always criticized his own scientific ignorance. I found the counter-evidence refreshing.

      1. Thanks, Siskoid. Is it worth watching? I know you’ve watched a movie or two, so I imagine you’re qualified to make a recommendation.

        1. Depends who you ask. I’ve seen a lot of bad reviews, and I admit I’m a sucker for “astronaut procedurals”. Still, I gave this one 4 stars out of 5 and a “like” on Letterboxd. That’s a strong recommendation. I love the cast, I love the moral dilemma, the third act had me breathless.

  4. Glad to see this show brought back and definitely love the conversation here. The perfect panel for the randomizer to pick.

    For me, for a company to put out such a book, the comic either needs to be of significant importance or the art needs to be worthy.

    I could see me musing over purchasing a ‘Panel by Panel’ Bernie Wrightson book, or Brian Bolland book, or even John Totleben book. Maybe Barry Windsor Smith? But the art needs to hold up to such scrutiny.

  5. I’m chuffed to bits to have this show back, I feared the last guest had killed it. What a fun panel and what a great guest… I had (perhaps still have, but I think it went to the charity shop) the Maximum FF book. It was a fun curio but not something that works – Lee and Kirby were creating drive-by comics, not trying for masterworks to be studied. Andrew pointed out some of the problems with the book project. I doubt even the supposedly superior Amazing Adventures #6 would yield much more worth talking about – I don’t have the trained eyes of Kirby Collectors, but I don’t see the quality as being so different.

    I like this panel a lot, but it’s true value is in its context and legacy, as you pointed out.

    I have to say, the colourists were pretty workshy back then; you might argue the toss and say all the pink and red is to create a mood, but check out any of those earliest Marvel books and pretty much every panel is monochrome. I actually really like it. And I love word balloons that have been coloured in, they’re so cheery.

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