When Sims gets into his let's-recontextualize-the-history-comics-without-the-bullshit mode he is goddamn riveting.
Ask Chris #172: 'The Problem'
DC was focused on superheroes, and since they had the most popular superhero ever created, and the second most popular superhero ever created, and the third, and the fourth and the fifth, and Aquaman, what’s the point of even trying to compete with them? How do you even begin to take on Superman?
Well, if you’re Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and you’ve been watching all this go down for the past 20 years, it’s easy. You just sit down one day and reinvent the superhero comic. No big deal.
Which is exactly what they did. I’ve talked about this before, how the Marvel comics are deceptively simple in how they work. They’re undeniably adventure comics, the same kind of superhero stories that DC’s publishing, only they add in the stuff they’d been working on for the past decade. The twists and horrified reactions of the monster comics, the angsty, unrequited yearning of the romance books, and just bundle it all together in a book that doesn’t look like anything else on the stands. That last part is easy, because at this point, the only thing worth mentioning on the stands is DC, and they all have a pretty similar look. Wayne Boring, Al Plastino, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger are all phenomenal artists (Schaffenberger is probably the most underrated and overlooked Superman artist of all time, and his work is flat-out gorgeous), but to a certain extent, their art all sort of looks the same. There are differences and styles and you can tell them apart, sure, but they’re definitely part of the same school.
Jack Kirby is not.
So in 1961, Kirby and Lee take a gamble and put out Fantastic Four #1, a new kind of superhero comic…
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