Monday, October 26, 2015

Found Fantastic

My love affair with the Fantastic Four started ├Čn the late eighties. My brother had a subscription to this wonderful monthly series while I had a subscription to Heathcliff, the Garfield knockoff. At the time, Fantastic Four was written and drawn by John Byrne, whom I would put at the top of the list of Fantastic Four creators. I always felt a strong connection to Marvel's first family. They were a family of four and so was I.

1st die-cut cover!
My first introduction to Dr Doom was also quite memorable.  He sent the Baxter Building into space!  Later it was revealed that this Doom was actually the child, Kristoff, (spoiler!) and only had the early memories of Victor Von Doom, which included a previous (failed) plan to send the Baxter Building into space. I still remember the panel of She-Hulk holding up the tantrum throwing Doom.
The subscription I shared with my brother started to lapse around the time Ben came back to the team. He decided to stay on Battleworld for a bit, but eventually got tired of that. This was also the time when Johnny was getting married to Ben's main squeeze, Alicia Masters (or was it?). I remember picking up the issue of the wedding at a grocery store. Johnny and Ben made amends and Ben was the best man (after a nice fight with She-Hulk, who replaced him while he was gone).

This was about the last issue of Fantastic Four I would read for awhile. I don't really know why, but when I later revisited this era I realized it was not a memorable run. Reed and Sue left for a while, Ben became leader, Ms Marvel became a female Thing (not Carol Danvers or Kamala Kahn), Ben became a pumpkin spikey Thing, and there was some weird dream stuff. This section of F4 history was mostly scribed by Steve Englehart/Jonathan Harkness, who himself had some editorial conflicts towards the end of his run.

I returned just in time to see the return of Doom (again) who engaged with Reed in a time lapse battle.  A new subscription was started and it lasted up until Onslaught and Heroes Reborn. Then the long awaited Heroes Return happened so I started my subscription anew. This one lasted almost to the final end; sometime during Fraction's run.

The Fantastic Four just finished one more final arc by James Robinson and Leonard Kirk. I found it lackluster on its initial read, but I feel I should give it another chance. Maybe my bitterness clouded my mind since I knew it was ending. Now there is Secret Wars and Doom is god. After this, the four are no more. Johnny is hanging with Inhumans and Ben is soaring through the galaxy. Reed and Sue, with kids, have yet to be heard from.

This deeply saddens me. Marvel's first family is left out of the all-new all-different reboot, that is not a reboot.  I have many thoughts and memories of the Fantastic Four that I wish to share. I hope my words here will help others find the Fantastic.

Also through all this,  I sought out back issues. I dreamed of having a complete collection. So far the oldest issue I have is Fantastic Four #66. From the initial run, #1-416, I can proudly say I have 242 issues. From there, the numbering restarted, later returned, restarted again, and returned at the very end. So from Heroes Return, which I think would be issue #429 until before Robinson took over, I can claim ownership to those issues as well. I could count Heroes Reborn, but I'm missing issues 10-12. In all, there are 645 definitive issues (not counting annuals) and I have 461. I did acquire the 44 Years of Fantastic Four, so my digital collection is complete. At least I have that going for me.
Is it issue #50 or #479?
Nuff said, indeed.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fantastic Voyage

Soon there will be a void in the Marvel Universe and the gateway to the Negative Zone will be closed.  On the horizon, Marvel's first family will not have a monthly series.  Ben and Johnny have gone their separate ways and found new teams, but Reed, Sue, and the kids are missing from action.  

They have had a troublesome year to say the least.  Their monthly series came to a finale with a lackluster story from James Robinson and Leonard Kirk that involved red costumes.  Reed managed to keep things afloat over in New Avengers thanks to Jonathan Hickman.  A blockbuster film got released that bared the name Fantastic Four.  As for its affiliation with a comic book, I am unsure.  This summer Doom has been at the forefront of the new Secret Wars and has reached the highest of the high. He has taken it up to eleven.  
Once Again


When the dust settles from this new restart,  the four will be no more. Or so we've been told by the powers to be.  This truly is a crime against the fans of the much beloved Fantastic Four. There must be a bigger plan in the works that we are not yet privy to, there just has to be. Slowly more details begin to emerge Post Secret Wars. Irregardless, I now have a goal to forever remember the Fantastic.  It is with the world, that I must share the Fantastic  Four.   As I have found the fantastic, now too shall all be Finding Fantastic. I will begin to share my thoughts about everything Fantastic Four.  So without further ado, a journey into the Microverse, Innerverse, and everywhere in between is about to begin.