Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Ultimate Fantastic Four original art by Tyler Kirkham

The Ultimate Fantastic Four series was fairly unremarkable during its 60-issue run, failing to distinguish itself in any real way from the "proper" Marvel Universe version of the FF. Showing up on the publishing schedule years after other Ultimate line of books made their impact, the series is probably best remembered for introducing the Marvel Zombies concept in issue 21.

After the series had ended and most of the Ultimate books were coming to a close, the Ultimate FF characters, in a string of miniseries, started to deviate a bit more from their regular universe counterparts: Reed for some reason became a villain, "The Maker"; the Thing shed his rocky exterior to become a purple energy being (though they soon gave him back his classic look); Sue and Ben got engaged.

In all, the Ultimate Fantastic Four weren't very memorable as characters or as a series, but still, 60 issues is a pretty good run for a title, and it stands as the third-longest running FF series after the core title and Marvel Two-in-One. The title had a very brief relaunch as "Ultimate FF" a few years later, but that series was cancelled after only six issues.

I recently came across a page of original art from the first series, and I managed to get it for a pretty good price. Here it is, with art by Tyler Kirkham:

This particular page comes from issue 54 of the series, part of the "Salem's Seven" storyline that ran for four issues. Kirkham was the series artist for 10 issues, from #50 until the series was cancelled with issue 60 (skipping #56, which was pencilled by Eric Basaldua).

Top Cow, an imprint of Image, provided the art for these final issues, with Kirkham's pencilled art skipping the inking stage and going straight to colors. Kirkham's pencils are very tight, I suppose, but the art always came off feeling a bit unfinished to me.

So why did I grab this page? The answer is simple, as it has a rather nice, prominent shot of the Thing:

Kirkham really drew the Thing with a tiny head, without any noticeable joints, and here he's almost as wide as he is tall, but I love stocky Thing in his weird jumpsuit carrying a prop that is apparently from the 2001: A Space Odyssey movie.

Set 'er down anywhere, Thing.

Also in this issue, they literally devote several panels to showing Ultimate Johnny Storm trying to boil an egg. It's true! He's got fire powers, if the previous 50 years hadn't driven that idea home.

This page comes signed by penciller Tyler Kirkham at the very bottom.

And here's a shot of the very top of the page, in which we can see the title and artist, but not the issue number.

This is the first page of original art from the Ultimate Fantastic Four title I own, and I'm glad to have it, even if it is from a rather forgettable series.

1 comment:

Larry said...

A guy with fire powers can boil an egg? Fascinating!