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Fantastic Four:
As The Waid Turns...

This will teach me to try and have a life on weekends.

After several days of debating a new direction for Marvel's revivified Fantastic Four, writer Mark Waid has been fired from the book. His final issue will be #508, still a few months away.

Let me put that a little more clearly: Bill Jemas wanted something different, Waid expressed his discomfort with the idea and then Friday, he got the phone call.

What exactly that "something different" is may be a matter of some controversy for quite a while. In an interview with Newsarama, Waid claims that Jemas wants "...a wacky suburban dramedy where Reed's a nutty professor who creates amazing but impractical inventions, Sue's the office-temp breadwinner, the cranky neighbor is their new arch-enemy, etc." As might be expected, Marvel disputes this.

At any rate, Waid rejected whatever notion Jemas tried to plant in his head, saying it was too different from what they had hired him to do in the first place. Though he worked on a compromise with editor Tom Brevoort, he continues "...it would seem the decision to replace me was made the moment I failed to get with the program."

This has, of course, not been the first time that Waid has left a project under a storm of controversy. When he first became connected with Fantastic Four, it was after unexpectedly leaving CrossGen and the book he had co-created for them, Ruse. Earlier, CrossGen had lured Waid away from JLA at DC, a move he himself has claimed regret over.

In the Newsarama interview, Waid expresses his belief that Jemas may be replacing him with ...Jemas himself, but reminds his fans that it's "...(Jemas') company, his prerogative." Naturally, in the span of 24 hours, the internet has been aflame.

And then today, Joe Quesada sent this out to web editors, including Fanboy Planet. It includes responses to couple of rumors that, quite honestly, we didn't know about until Joe's letter. There's that whole "having a life" thing again.

Dear Comics Fans,

I've been busy as hell of late and found my life much more enjoyable these last few months that I've avoided Internet message boards, but sometimes things get so out of hand that issues just need to be addressed and tackled head on.

First off, regarding Mark Waid's exit from the FANTASTIC FOUR (pretty much
the only part of this 'story' that's completely accurate). Let me preface this by saying that Mark and I have been friends for years and years and I expect that that relationship won't change over this creative decision. Mark is one of the most talented guys in the business and I have the utmost respect for what he does, but his departure from FF is now being siphoned through inaccuracies, mistaken impressions and hardcore enthusiasts inability to wait for the whole, real story before slitting their proverbial wrists and launching profanity-ridden grenades. Hey, what the heck, it's so much more fun to be angry at Marvel even with only half the story.

Over a month ago Bill Jemas asked for a change of direction for the FF monthly title ... business as usual and no different than asking for a costume change, a change of cast or story line. As President, it's Bill's right and responsibility to call for changes as he feels will benefit any Marvel title just as it is mine. This is not the first time such changes have been asked for and I certainly hope it won't be the last.

Bill called up Mark and asked him personally to steer the book towards a new vision and Mark made it clear that it wasn't a direction that he felt he wanted to write in or was comfortable with. That in turn is Mark's right and responsibility as a creator - if it's not his cup of tea and if he can't bring his "A" game to a project then that's okay, no harm no foul. I respect Mark for making his decision as I respect Bill for giving Mark the first crack at the new storyline.

Mark has also been given every opportunity to work on other books here at Marvel.

But like with every creative change at Marvel, this change has been met with much "fanfare" and fear. Let me assure the fans that while Mark will be missed, the high quality standard of FF stories that Mark and company have set, will continue.

As for Bill Jemas writing the monthly FANTASTIC FOUR title, and the "wacky suburban dramedy" description, with all due respect to Mark, neither is accurate. A new FF writer will be announced shortly, but it won't be written by Bill and won't be as described. Everyone getting upset and angry over this are getting upset and angry over nothing ... or in other words, business as usual. I'm in no way saying that Mark is misleading the fans, only that he may be mixing up stories he's heard and judging the new direction on what was a very initial pitch that was circulated over a month

Furthermore, this isn't a cost saving measure nor is it some flight of fancy. This is a change in direction for a Marvel title requested by the man who schemed the Ultimate Universe, had the guts to tell Origin and turned Marvel's publishing business around in less than two years. But hey, what does he know. Yes, Bill is indeed working on an FF-related concept, but then so am I, along with a couple of Marvel's top creators and perhaps that's where the stories get mixed up ... but more on that when the time is right.

So what's the truth? Like many events in the comics industry, we may never know. But it is newsworthy now, because certainly what Waid and artist Mike Wieringo have been doing on Fantastic Four is working. It does seem an odd time to request a character change, unless rumors about the sitcommy nature of the upcoming film adaptation are true.

Quesada continues in his letter:

Finally, I want to get to all of the anti-Epic garbage that has been hitting the streets. It seems that there are those that feel that perhaps the best way to get accepted by Epic is to scare off anyone who wants to submit. Think about it, put out some nasty rumors that this is all some evil plot by Bill, that there are 3000 submissions gathering dust, that the editors aren't reading pitches and the fewer people that submit, the better the chances of those that are already through the door. Epic is no more nor less than what we've stated from the beginning. We feel that there is a
wealth of undiscovered talent out there in need of a break. We honestly feel that there are stories out there that need to be told that are just looking for the right opportunity. If you believe all of this Epic conspiracy nonsense, then you're falling into a horrible trap.

See ya in the funnybooks,


And on that note, we want to publicly congratulate the editor of Comics2Film, Rob Worley, for landing a pitch at Epic, Young Ancient One. It couldn't have happened to a nicer, or harder-working, guy.

Derek McCaw

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