No doubt, the Fantastic Four have been on incredible adventures, but none will be as great as when they met the creator of the Marvel Universe.
The Fantastic Four have had a long career as a team of superheroes, undertaking countless adventures, but none more interesting than when they met their creator Jack Kirby. These characters were co-created by Stan Lee and Kirby in 1961, sparking the resurgence of superhero comics at Marvel Comics. Kirby was involved with Marvel as early as the 1940s, when the company was called “Timely Comics,” and he co-created Captain America with writer Joe Simon. Kirby was also involved in the co-creation of many Silver Age Marvel Heroes in the 1960s such as Thor, the Incredible Hulk, and the X-Men, but his tenure in the Fantastic Four was arguably the longest, as worked on 102 publications with Stan Lee.
Kirby eventually left Marvel and worked for DC Comics, creating many memorable heroes and concepts, including the New Gods and Darkseid, a concept Kirby originally envisioned for Marvel Comics and Thor. Although Kirby passed away in 1994, his legacy and impact in the comics would not be forgotten. Although there have been many tributes to this comic book legend over the years, one of the best was during one of the most grim adventures of the Fantastic Four.
In Fantastic Four # 511, after his most recent battle against Doctor Doom, Ben Grimm (the Thing) had died. Leaving the team distraught and separated.
As the Fantastic Four mourn the loss of their best friend, Reed Richards develops a machine based on Doom’s older designs, specifically the machine that marked Victor Von Doom’s face forever. This invention was originally intended to find his mother’s soul in the afterlife, and Reed decided to refine the machine to rescue Ben Grimm. Reed had hooked Ben up to a life support machine and discovered that there were weak brain waves coming from Ben, meaning that a small part of him was “still alive” and that all the team had to do was “rescue him” from the beyond. Although Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman, initially hesitates, Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, decides to join Reed on his adventure, leading Sue to join as well.
Here begins a great adventure.
However, upon entering the afterlife, the Fantastic Four encounter many conflicts, as divine beings with swords trying to prevent them from reaching Ben. Despite this, they eventually encounter Ben Grimm in his human form, who believes that Reed Richards and his machine are preventing Ben from dying. Eventually, Ben concludes that his own self-doubt was keeping him alive, and the team collectively decides to meet with their creator to try to persuade him to resurrect Ben. However, once they receive the invitation to meet their creator, it is the last thing they expect.
When members of the Fantastic Four enter the creator’s room, they are surprised to find that the room itself looks like a normal old office. Sitting at an artist’s table, they see an old man who looks like Jack Kirby while talking on the phone about the plot of an upcoming story with his co-worker (it is very implied that he is Stan Lee).
When they ask why the creator looks like this, they answer that the team perceives it in a way that the human mind can understand. Impressed with the resolution of the Fantastic Four, Kirby decides to resurrect Ben, but “redraws” him to his traditional rocky appearance, and also explains that the “machine from beyond” will no longer work after this trip. Before the team finally leaves, Kirby gives them a final gift, a sketch of the Fantastic Four in the future, and, although they look older, they receive a “happy ending” in the sense that they are alive and happy.