I have to say, right off the bat, that I have NOT seen the recent Fantastic Four movie. I usually don’t let reviewers control my perception of a film, but this time the chorus was so unanimous that I figured it was better to wait until the film hit the Netflix-type venue. I couldn’t begin to say how uninterested I was in the motion picture!

Linked with that has been the news that Marvel is not bringing back the FF anytime soon. I’ve read a great many opinion pieces in the comics press begging the House of Ideas to bring them back as soon as possible! Otherwise, they could fade away into obscurity, never to appear anywhere again!

I have a different opinion.

LET THE FANTASTIC FOUR REST

Fantastic Four, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Mark Waid, Secret Wars, She-Hulk, House of Ideas, Thing, Human Torch, Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, Sue Storm, Invisible Woman, Look, I’ve been reading comics literally for decades now, and it’s been a really, really long time since the Fantastic Four comic has been one I loved (or even was mildly interested in).

The last time it was great, in my opinion, was back when Mark Waid was scripting it. As he often does, he took the team back to their roots as a family and rebuilt the book based on their “adventurer” status rather than, as he once put it, having a “4” signal shine on the New York night sky.

He was off the book way too soon to please me, and I’ve largely seen the main four heroes either be presumed dead or relegated to background status even in their own title. It’s a very bad sign when that happens, no matter how great the writer or artist may be!

Another thing I’ve seen happen is the replacement of one member of the team with another hero, like She-Hulk stepping in for The Thing. I understand that changing the group’s dynamic can lead to new story ideas, but I don’t think that should be happening now.

I know some of you will be shocked to hear me say this, but I agree with Marvel right now. For whatever reason, don’t keep grinding out mediocre FF tales. Give them a rest. To keep making poor FF will kill these characters more than anything else, I believe!

PUT THE ‘FANTASTIC’ BACK IN THE BOOK

My thoughts? I feel like many of the people who have been on the FF for years have been more worried about the “Four” part of it than the “Fantastic” portion of the title.

When I look back on those early Stan Lee/Jack Kirby days, it was the “fantastic” that drew me into the title. I mean, just look at all the truly amazing situations and people they encountered. Those creators made people and groups that Marvel is STILL using today, such as the Inhumans, Galactus, the Silver Surfer, the Watcher, the Kree and the Skrulls, the Frightful Four, the Negative Zone (yes, the Negative Zone!), Attuma, the Mad Thinker and the Mole Man. These were all new and all-different (to coin a phrase), and we haven’t seen the likes of them for many, many moons.

It’s important to make the characters breathe, and I loved the interaction between them all, particularly when the comic first launched. Ben and Johnny’s teasing each other as well as Sue’s and Richard’s subdued romantic inclinations helped us understand them enough so we cared about them. I think that, over the years, the children have overshadowed their parents because they’re too powerful or more of a blank slate writers could impose their own ideas on.

There’s a reason why the FF has been as classic as they have for so long. They were people we wanted to succeed facing incredible odds and obstacles! OF COURSE we pulled for them!

WAIT UNTIL THERE’S A GREAT IDEA TO BRING THEM BACK

Fantastic Four, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Mark Waid, Secret Wars, She-Hulk, House of Ideas, Thing, Human Torch, Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, Sue Storm, Invisible Woman, I remember a long, long time ago, Marvel placed an ad in a publication that featured a young boy holding up a dime (or a quarter). The headline was something like, “Want to get his last dime? We’ll help!”

This is NOT the time for that kind of mentality (although Marvel’s making so many Secret Wars-related titles right now that they’re squeezing out lesser-known great comics in the process, I believe).

I highly recommend that folks considering rebooting the FF by making radical changes to the line-up or the group’s purpose go back and read the Lee/Kirby issues, then move on to when Mr. Waid was making the Fantastic Four. THAT is who they are; THAT is who they need to be, in my opinion.

I remember when DC said Green Lantern was a character who needed a racial change to be viable. Well, Geoff Johns did make “fantastic” things happen with Hal Jordan and the Corps, but they were true to who GL really was. The FF needs something like that!

I don’t care how long it takes, but I think Marvel should wait until they’ve got a writer/artist combination that understands the Fantastic Four at their very core before warping them into people we don’t recognize doing things we don’t care about. I think we’ll be ready for a GOOD Fantastic Four when it comes out!

What do you think? Should the FF come back immediately? If so, who should be working on this fundamental of all Marvel comics?

The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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3 Comments

  1. Websnap
    August 24, 2015 at 10:39 am — Reply

    TBH – I thought the Jonathan Hickman run was great – kinda “head-y” – but great.

  2. DamienR
    August 24, 2015 at 11:03 am — Reply

    As you rightly pointed out, all those ‘truly amazing situations and people’ that still endure today, were all otherworldly, or non-Earth-based, or to use the terminology of our time.. ‘cosmic’. Recently, those ‘cosmic’ adventures were handed over to the likes of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and even the Avengers during the recent Phoenix Force storyline, this negating the ‘need’ for the FF currently.

    I agree the FF needs to go into retirement, at least for a little while.
    Have Reed and Sue be the old married couple in suburbia that make random appearances, and maybe have Ben go a-wandering, having random adventures, a la Two-In-One.
    As for Johnny? Well, with all the Spidey-titles around now, why not ressurect “…and His Amazing Friends”?

    And since you mentioned him, why not have Geoff Johns recreate the FF, but more along the lines of space-adventurers (think Space Family Robinson or Star Trek). Wasn’t their whole origin based on being explorers to the stars, after all?

    • August 24, 2015 at 1:48 pm — Reply

      You make good points there, DamienR! It could be fun to see Mr. Johns work on FF!

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