The Fantastic Four have been among my favorite comic books and the members of this superhero family are some of my favorite characters. While I gird my loins for watching the new Fantastic Four movie (of which precious little positive news or reviews have graced the media), I decided to look back on why I love the Fantastic Four comics.
Fantastic Four Marvel Treasury Edition
As a kid growing up in the 1970s, before the internet, before the growth of the retail comic book store, indeed before the current slew of great superhero films made being a superhero geek cool, there was the weekly trip to the neighborhood drug store and the experience of the spinner rack.
The top Marvel comics then included several Spider-Man titles, the Avengers, and, of course, the Fantastic Four. The X-Men were in reprints (a fact I don’t recall grasping at the time, as again, no internet). Along with the original titles being put out each week, Marvel also printed a lot of “reprint" titles, in effect recycling old stories from the 1960s for the new generation to buy and read. These titles included such greats as Marvel Adventure, Marvel Double Feature, Marvel Spectacular, Marvel Super Action, Marvel Triple Action, Marvel's Greatest Comics, among others. This ensured that the great continuity that was a hallmark of early Marvel comics got exposure among the younger set.
The Fantastic Four was among my favorite in those days. Part of it was the dynamic between the members of the FF, with Johnny and Ben horsing around, the brother-sister team of Johnny and Sue, the marriage of Sue and Reed, and the all-powerful kid they produced, Franklin. And, of course, one of the best parts was the relationship between Reed and Ben, along with the ongoing quest for a “cure" for Ben’s rocky condition. And, they had great adventures, with their forays into the Negative Zone among my favorites. While the Negative Zone was a pretty creative place, the Marvel writers of the 1970s, sent the FF to many unique and exciting places, from the underground empire of the Mole Man to the streets of Attilan, home of the Inhumans. Some of the great storylines I recall from my FF-reading youth (circa 1973), includes the uprising of the Alpha-Primitives of Attilan, and the discovery by Johnny that his girlfriend Crystal (of the Inhumans), was really in love with Quicksilver of the Avengers. This is real-world social justice stuff (the slavery of the Alpha-Primitives by the Inhumans) and real-world emotional relationship stuff with the Johnny-Crystal-Pietro triangle. Any hope of success that Fox Studios may have for their new Fantastic Four movie would hinge on making the relationships among the characters real and deep. Somehow, I doubt they will get it right. And, if they did manage to do it right, Pietro and Johnny are both in the same Fox-controlled universe, right?
Fantastic Four #131-Johnny discovers Crystal and Pietro
Fast-forward to the modern day, and the last issues of the Fantastic Four prior to the new movie coming out. This latest run of the FF was, to use a phrase...Fantastic! As I have mentioned in other reviews of Fantastic Four comics, this run of the Fantastic Four paid homage to nearly the whole of FF history while also telling a whale of a tale! A lot was made of the fact that Marvel was ending the long run of FF comics, supposedly in response to Marvel (and Disney’s) concerns about the damage the Fox Studios movie would do to the Fantastic Four franchise. After seeing lead-in and the first part of the huge Secret Wars event, and the fact that most Marvel titles ended or went into hiatus, provides hope that the FF will arise again after the Secret Wars fallout has settled.
Check out our review of the new Fantastic Four movie, of course, from the perspective of a long-time FF fan.
Roger Lee is a life-long comic book and sci-fi aficionado. As such, he fell into the habit of writing about the superheroes and sci-fi scenarios that he reads in the comics and books and sees on screen. Since writings on superheroes need to be shared, he has written for web audiences for years. His writings have appeared on www.comicshistoryguy.com, www.comicbookmovie.com, www.bamsmackpow.com, and now in superheroreviews.com.