Here we have the cover to Fantastic Four #1 - if you're a reader of superhero comics, you surely recognize it. Drawn by Jack Kirby, it's one of the most famous, iconic covers in the history of the genre.

And, kind of sucks. I mean...look at it!

It proudly proclaims that it features, "'The Thing!' 'Mr. Fantastic!' 'Human Torch!' 'Invisible Girl!' Together for the first time in one mighty magazine!" Uh...well, yeah, they're together for the first time. And, as of the publication of this first issue, they're together for the only time, as it's the first appearance of all four of these characters. It's not like they're giving us, "Superman and Batman - Your two favorite heroes in one adventure together!" or the first team-up of four heroes who have, oh, I don't know, any sort of publishing history at all...I know that absurd hyperbole has always been sort of Marvel "house style," but this is just ridiculous.

So here we have the Human Torch. So far, so good. More or less dead-center in the composition, as is befitting the character with the most visually dynamic power of the quartet. He's also always been my favorite FF member, so I've got no problems with the presentation. Sure, he looks a little odd here compared to later depictions, but it always takes an artist a little while to refine the way he draws a new character. At least Johnny's looking better here than his opposite number, the X-Men's Iceman, did in his early and rather ridiculous "snowman" form. The central placement may also have been meant as an enticement to readers who remembered or were familiar with the original Human Torch, and might have wondered if this was the same character.

Next, let's take a look at the character destined to become the fan favorite, Benjamin J. Grimm, the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing. Not to be confused with the ever-lovin' one-eyed thing...totally different. All seems well and good...until you notice that he's randomly smashing some poor schnook's car as he prepares to "take a hand." A bit of collateral damage is inevitable when superheroes are fighting a monster, of course, but does Ben really have to exacerbate the problem? Also, his dialog seems to indicate that he's been sitting on the sidelines, just watching while his teammates battled the big green monster, before deciding that he might as well go help out.

We turn our attention now to Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl,, well, "can't turn invisible fast enough." For what, Sue? What the damnhell good is turning invisible going to do you? The monster has you in its grip, and its focus appears to be pretty focused on the Torch and the Thing. What the hell does it matter if you're visible or not? And why does it matter if it takes you the blink of eye or thirty seconds? It blows my mind that Stan and Jack didn't realize, just on the basis of this cover, that they had given Sue a fairly useless power. It took them nearly two years to add her force field ability! How could they not look at her failure to "turn invisible fast enough" and think, "Hey, maybe she should be able to do a little more than that if we're going to have her fighting big green monsters and such..."

Yeah, it's true. When your power is that you're, like, stretchy and stuff, it will indeed take more than ropes to keep you out of action. Who in the name of Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ tied you up? Did the monster tie you up? Did the monster attack while you and Sue were playing some sort of kinky bondage the middle of a busy Manhattan street...while fully clothed? I mean...I mean...I mean...I know it's gotta be tough, even for Jack Kirby, to draw a dynamic and exciting cover that tells you right away what each character's power is. But I really gotta the hell did Reed get tied up in the first place?

Okay, it doesn't actually suck. It's just, well, it's just damned odd, that's all.