writer: Mark Waid
artists: Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel
this issue, the so-called "World's Greatest Comic Magazine"
becomes the "World's Cheapest" one. Yes, this is the fabled
9 cent issue, and Marvel put tongue in cheek to trumpet that
fact. Though the low price will bring readers flocking, Marvel
seems to have missed the boat.
also have the week's best comic with this one.
team Waid and Wieringo re-unite to tackle this flagship title,
too often lost behind the media glare on Spider-Man and The
X-Men. Already they have sparked together to make excellence.
releases for the someday-to-happen 20th Century Fox film of
Fantastic Four, the studio describes them as a sitcom
family. Certainly after reading Grant Morrison's take on them
last year, that seemed out of whack. But Waid's story here
lends credence to Fox's view, in a way that doesn't compromise
the high adventure and wonder that people associate with the
best of this series.
everybody talks about Lee and Kirby's original run on this
book, but how many modern fans (not creators) have really
read it? This new team echoes the best of the masters' work,
in a way that leaves readers wanting more while running to
go back and read the original "imaginauts," as Waid calls
them. (By the way, we're shameless hucksters. See below to
Four themselves also get called Imaginauts within the story,
a term that fits especially well. As seems to need to happen
every few years, Waid clarifies their role in the Marvel Universe,
taking a hapless publicity agent on a whirlwind tour through
a week in the life of the Fantastic Four. There are hints
of great adventures on the edge of their lives, but first
and foremost, they explore new worlds and possibilities. Every
time a "revitalization" has worked (especially John Byrne's,
back in the '80's), it's been under these terms.
the gist of the story is also the truth Waid wants to tell.
These characters don't need redefinition for a new age; we
just need to be reminded who they are in the first place.
Through that publicist, Mr. Shertzer, we get that message
loud and clear.
too, Waid drops hints about character directions to come.
Ben discovers he's a bit of a street hero. Befitting the current
Marvel Howard Stern fixation (name-dropped this issue), Sue
is being re-established as a MILF. (If you don't know, don't
ask. I won't tell you.) Younger brother Johnny is a more believable
younger brother than he has been in some time. And Reed…forgetting
the medical spin Morrison suggested last year (possibly suffering
from Asperger's Syndrome), Waid has given Reed a slightly
tragic edge that suddenly explains a lot, and will clearly
motivate much of this (hopefully long) run.
characterization, Waid has always been one of a handful of
writers who is good with little details. A stand-out touch
here is a brief description of how Reed and Ben sound when
they move. Some raised on Hanna-Barbera may take issue with
Waid's interpretation, but it works.
matches every move Waid makes. Under the inking of Karl Kesel,
this book looks bold and exciting. After seeing all the 'ringo
wanna-bes on Impulse and a few other DC titles, it's
easy to forget what a superb draftsman the guy is in the first
place. This book will only add to an already high reputation.
the publicity stunt of selling this book for nine cents, well,
it makes a better value than the Ten Cent Adventure DC launched
months ago. For nine cents, we get a full-length story, complete
in itself. And if it hooks you on the title, you know you're
going to get this consistent team doing a bang-up job issue
after issue, not launching into four or five titles a month
in a sprawling and unwieldy storyline.
at nine cents will get attention, but the more expensive run
to follow will certainly keep it.
Essential Fantastic Four Volume 1
Essential Fantastic Four Volume 2
Essential Fantastic Four Volume 3
Masterworks: The Fantastic Four
Masterworks:The Fantastic Four #51-60 (Lee & Kirby)