This Should Be Collected #6: Karl Kesel’s Fantastic Four

Ben Grimm Jewish

John Seavey of Mightygodking mentioned Karl Kesel as one of the things he loves about comics. A major reason for that is his excellent scattered work on Fantastic Four.

He also wrote the first few issues of ‘Fantastic Four 2099′, the really high quality ones before the line utterly imploded because Marvel fired the line editor and all the talented writers walked in protest. (There is, somewhere, an alternate universe where Marvel kept Joey Cavalieri on, and Peter David and Warren Ellis and Karl Kesel kept writing their respective titles for another few years at least. I want to go there and steal all the comics.) He wrote an awesome FF annual where Ben Grimm traveled to a parallel universe where Marvel time mapped to real time one-to-one, and Johnny was in his late forties and thinking about retiring and leaving the whole “super hero” business to his kids. (High concept, and funny as hell.) He also wrote some great fill-in issues of the regular FF series, including the one where Ben Grimm was revealed to be Jewish (in what was ultimately a very touching Jack Kirby tribute. Another thing that Kesel loves to do is to tribute Kirby in ways both small and large. I approve.) I’m still hoping that someday he’ll get a regular gig writing the FF, because he has their voices down perfectly.

And that’s something that should be collected. It’s fondly remembered. There’s enough material for a trade, even if you ignore the Fantastic Four 2099 material. At least one of the stories has been followed up on, with the exploration of Ben Grimm’s Jewish roots. With the relatively recent positive media about Karl Kesel and his wife’s difficulties after adopting a drug-addicted baby, there seems to be more interest in his work.

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at
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