AVENGERS #23 December 1965
Jack Kirby/Wally Wood(?) original artists
Imagine, if you will, a conversation between the time traveling baddie, Kang the Conqueror, and artist John Romita, upon the completion of AVENGERS #23, an issue that they were both intimately involved with. It just may've went something...like...this...
"Boy, am I ever glad I took Stan up on his proposition!! After pencilling National's romance stories for all those years, it sure is relaxing just inking someone else's work at Marvel!"

"Poor, deluded fool."

"Huh? What's your problem, Kang? Why, I thought my first job back at my old stomping grounds went just swell. And Stan sure seemed to like what I brought to Don Heck's pencils--you're not trying to tell me he's gonna can me from this sweet gig already, are you?"

"No, not exactly..."

"What do you mean by THAT, plate face??"

"You'll work for your present employer for many a year, but this will the only assignment under the initial agreement you signed on under that you'll ever complete."

"I don't understand--just what you're trying to say, future boy?..."

"Simply this--don't be so quick to put away your pencils, misguided one."

"You can't be serious? Why, Stan promised!? Nice, stress free inking!? And anyways, I haven't drawn an adventure yarn in years--I'd be too rusty to provide the sorta action they're dishing out in these new books of Stans?"

"Nevertheless, next month you'll find yourself pencilling DAREDEVIL."

"DAREDEVIL? Next month? B-but, that's Wally Wood's baby?..."

"Not for long. The complicated Mr. Wood doesn't like your friend Mr. Lee very much, it seems."

"Wh--what? You're saying I'm getting a book dumped on me because of a personality conflict? That's crazy!? How could someone NOT get along with Stan Lee?"

"Apparently it's not as difficult as you may imagine, little man, for in seven more months you'll inherit AMAZING SPIDER-MAN from a disgruntled Steve Ditko, and several years later, you'll be the first person to follow Jack Kirby on FANTASTIC FOUR after his bitter exodus from Marvel."

"Th-this is INSANE!! I signed up to ink, and now you're telling me I'm gonna PENCIL three of Marvel's top books? I'm gonna replace Wood, Ditko AND Kirby?!? I can't believe what I'm hearing!?! You've GOTTA be pulling my leg!? I suppose I'll be taking over for Charles Schultz on Peanuts, too??..."

"No, but there IS a newspaper strip in your future..."

"...How can I possibly do ALL that work?? Stan, how could you DO this to me?..."

"Worry not. You'll only stay with one of those features for any substantial amount of time, but you'll leave your mark on it, I assure you. There'll be balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade based on your celebrated designs."

"..........."

"Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot!"

"...huh?..."

"Sigh. Trust me, you'll get that quip within a year."

"J-just tell me one more thing, Kang--how LONG do you see me at Marvel?'

"The haze of time clouds up at a certain point, I'm afraid, but I see the name Romita in books published in the year 2003 and beyond."'

"2003?? Ooooooooh...'

"Hmm. Fainted dead away. I wonder if I telling him there was a "Junior" next to the Romita name might have lessened his distress--or instead increased it?? Well, I suppose I should be grateful to have been apart of the so-called Jazzy one's landmark first modern day Marvel job. Nice work, too. He would've indeed made a fine inker. Too bad the Smilin' one had OTHER plans for our Mr.Romita!! Heh heh--I certainly do love a good double cross...."

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