Announced today at the "Cup O' Joe" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Marvel Comics will be publishing a lost issue from the legendary Stan Lee/Jack Kirby "Fantastic Four" run. That's right True Believer, there's an unpublished issue of "Fantastic Four" by the, arguably, greatest team to ever work on the comic. We spoke to Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort to learn how this all happened.
"Serendipity, mostly," he told CBR News. "Cory Sedlmeier was working on the last 'Marvel Masterworks' volume to contain Stan and Jack's FF material, and he was looking to fat-pack it with afterwards and extras and the like. And between us, we came up with the idea of reprinting John Morrow's article from the 'Jack Kirby Collector' in expanded form, which dealt with the issue and tried to reconstruct it from the unused pencils. From there, it was a pretty simple jump to the idea of seeing if we could finish the story up and get it into print as an actual comic book."
While some details are known about how this issue slipped through the cracks, Brevoort admits, "Many of the specifics are lost to the pages of time. But as I understand it, this story was originally intended for 'Fantastic Four' #102, right at the end of Jack's tenure at Marvel. At that point, relations were at something of a low between Lee and Kirby, and on this particular job, Stan apparently had something specific in mind for the story, and he felt that Jack went too far afield. So the job was set aside--and later, portions of it were used as an extended flashback in a later issue off FF to kind of salvage the material."
Creators of old were often underpaid, especially compared to modern creators, and in the spirit of equality, Marvel Comics is paying the Kirby Estate exactly what Jack always deserved. "We pay them in rare vintage Marvel trading cards--no, kidding," joked Brevoort. "We're paying the Kirby Estate as though Jack was alive today, and at the sort of rate he'd be getting were he alive today. So this is certainly the most up-front money Jack ever earned for penciling a Marvel comic.
As to when you can buy this sure to be interesting read, Brevoort readily admits that he's not sure. "We haven't finalized a release date yet, but the package will contain the newly scripted, inked and colored version of the story, John Morrow's article about the issue illustrated with the original unlinked Kirby pencils, and a reprint of 'Fantastic Four' #108 in which some of the pages were used for an extended flashback."
CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland Contributed To This Story.