In response to having serialized his final Fantastic Four story, the wonderful Leonardo Ortolani sent me over an additional tale very much in the same spirit which I had never seen before. He told me that he had done it in early 1994, right after Jack Kirby passed, and that it ran in a fanzine so obscure that he didn’t even remember the name of it any longer. Either way, it showcases the same love and admiration for the work of Kirby (and Lee, and Joe Sinnott) that his Last Fantastic Four saga does, so I’m including it here as a kind of coda to the whole thing. The cover image above is, of course, a homage to Kirby and Sinnott’s cover to FANTASTIC FOUR #87.
Once again, I’m doing the translations using software, so it’s possible and even likely that mistakes will creep in some places.
BANNER: The F.F. face a frightening truth!
TITLE: Farewell to the King!
JOHNNY: Don’t worry, Crys! They can’t penetrate the shuttle’s defenses!
BEN: No use staring, friend…you’re no beauty yourself!
SUE: What…what are they?
REED: They are creatures of the Ultraverse! We are on the edge of reality!
CREDITS: Text and drawings by Leo
CRYSTAL: They’re falling back!
CRYSTAl: We’re leaving them behind!
REED: They can’t get out of this dimension!
REED: …but we’ll do it exactly…
REED: Hold on!
CAPTION: The universe known to the Fantastic Four ceases to exist, while the gap closes behind them!
JOHNNY: We’re through! We came out of our universe!
SUE: Is it possible? Is it possible that we have failed?
REED: No! The gap has been crossed! And now in front of us there is…
REED: …the Earth!
REED: Even if everything seems familiar to us, this is not the land we know! This detector will lead us straight to the origin of the distortion that shook our universe!
REED: Entire solar systems have disappeared…as if they never existed!
REED: We need to find out what happened and prevent it from happening again!
REED: Watch out! Here we go: the distortion originated from that building!
SUE: It looks like a hospital!
REED: Susan! It’s best we continue without being seen!
SUE: Let me do it!
CAPTION: In silence, the invisible group travels through the long corridors of the building…
REED: The signal’s getting clearer!
REED: There is no doubt! Behind this door is the solution to our mystery!
SUE” Reed! That man!
SUE: He’s so …still! He’s…
REED: Yes, honey…
REED: …and, strange as it may sound…
REED: Our mission is over!
CAPTION: Meanwhile, in the corridor, the night watchman runs across another visitor.
WATCHMAN1: Hey, you! Where do you think you’re going?
WATCHMAN2: What a fool…
DOOM: I will not tolerate any more of your insolence!
DOOM: Consider yourselves fortunate that I allow you to live!
JOHNNY: Reed…who was this man? Why did your detector take us to him?
DOOM: The answer, boy, could change your life…forever!
BEN: Leave him to me, boss!
REED: No, Ben…even Doom is here to pay tribute…
REED: …to the creator of our own universe!
REED: It was only a hypothesis…but it turned out to be correct…there is a universe in the mind of every man…and when he dies…it dies with him…
DOOM: …unless parts of it are preserved…
CRYSTAL: But if our universe was in this man’s mind,..
CRYSTAL: …how did we survive? How?
REED: Here’s how: this man was a cartoonist…he created comic characters..and he created a series in which we are the protagonists!
REED: …in doing so, we live in the minds…in the universes of the people who have read these stories…while everything that never appeared in the books has been lost with him forever!
CAPTION: The truth falls like a shroud in the room…looks are laid with reverence on the mortal remains of the one who was the king of their universe!
CAPTION: One after another, they leave the room to return to their world. Only the man in armor shows no sign of following them.
DOOM: I’ll return later, though my own means…farewell, Richards.
CAPTION: Slowly, the monarch of Latveria takes off his mask…
CAPTION: …then he kneels. to steal a last caress from his father’s hand…
CAPTION: And the touch is cold.
CAPTION: As cold as his loneliness.
6 thoughts on “Lee & Kirby & Ortolani: Farewell to the King”
Did he explain why they all have monkey faces? I’m not being a wiseguy, those are all cartooning tropes for “simian”. I like this a lot but it’s very distracting to me.
A poster named Daniele posted the following 9 days ago:
I can answer to that. When Leo Ortolani was a child, it was difficoult to him to draw the human face, so he took as inspiration the monkey face, as they’re the closest animal to mankind. He would later kept this choice as trademark or personal style, but of course he can draw a regolar human face now.
If I recall correctly, Leo began to draw faces like that since he was a kid and that just became his style.
Thanks to you all. That makes perfect sense so now, I can go back and read the entire story without scratching my head. I’ll bet Irwin Donenfeld — the DC exec who thought gorillas and dinosaurs were sales-spikers — would have hired Mr. Ortolani to draw ALL of his covers!
Very interesting take on the FF. One of the better stories I’ve read. Thanks for sharing. Doug StaffordOttawa, Canada
(a bit late) The fanzine this story appeared in was called “Flex”, by Tornado Press; the issue was probably #9.
Flex was indeed one of the best Italian fan-made magazines of the 90s and used to deal with various kind of comics, not only super heroes.