Comic Legends: Did Kirby Have Strange Demands on His FF What If Issue?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and fortieth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends. Click here for Part 2 of this week's legends.


Jack Kirby only worked on "What If...the Marvel Bullpen has the powers of the Fantastic Four" if Roy Thomas wasn't the scripter on the issue.


I'm Going With False

In the first part of this week's legends, I wrote about Jack Kirby's brief return to Marvel from 1975-1978 and how it did not end particularly well, with Kirby deciding to get into the field of animation, where he would be paid better, have better hours and get better benefits.

Before he left, though, Jack Kirby wrote and drew a classic issue of What If...?, #11, which told the story of what if the original Marvel Bullpen had gained the powers of the Fantastic Four?

Originally, the issue was going to be scripted by Roy Thomas, who was the editor on the series. Thomas was also going to be IN the comic, as the Human Torch, along with Stan Lee as Mister Fantastic, Kirby as the Thing and Flo Steinberg as the Invisible Girl. As the story goes, Kirby refused to do the issue unless he could script it by himself and not have Thomas involved. And, of course, Thomas' role as the Human Torch suddenly went to Sol Brodsky instead...

Here's their origin, by the way, they were all at Marvel's offices when a mysterious package showed up...

The story made its way into Sean Howe's amazing book, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, and Roy Thomas took issue with it in comments posted at Ken Quattro's blog, with Thomas noting:

You’d have to show me some documentation to convince me that “Kirby refused to allow Thomas to script” the WHAT IF issue in which he and Stan, et al., became the Fantastic Four. In fact, I’m quite certain it didn’t happen that way. Jack was drawing away, and at some point I simply let him write it, but he never “refused” anything. Jack wasn’t that confrontational.

Thomas did note that one piece of editing he had to do was change all the "Stanleys" in the story to "Stan," as Lee was, for whatever reason, really irked at whenever Kirby would refer to him as Stanley.

I've never seen anything to dispute Roy's version of events, and since Roy WAS the editor on the issue, I am willing to believe that he just let Kirby write the issue. Roy admitted, by the way, that he was irked to be replaced by Brodsky, but more in a general "changing the original idea of the story without telling me" way - he conceded it was a good change, as Brodsky was around in the early days before Thomas was, so he was okay with it.

OK, that's it for this week!

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