My love affair with the Fantastic Four started ìn 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!|
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.