Saturday, June 4, 2011

Four Fantastic Things #1: Four Fantastic Four Creative Teams

While the objective of an author’s review of any consumable should be as objective as possible, but because we each have our own experiences and preferences, true objectivity is difficult to obtain. Due to this, whenever reading a review, it’ a good idea to know something about the individual who is pontificating on the consumable du jour.  The purpose of this new feature is twofold, one it gives me the opportunity to put my reviews in context with things I have established as enjoying, and second I get to discuss, in brief, items that might not need a full entries detail.

While I will often use a theme to bring the focus of these articles together, I do foresee breaking from that format on occasion.

For the first installment, from the source that inspired the title of this new feature, I will indulge in my first guilty pleasure, and discuss the best four writers/artists that made the Fantastic Four the “world’s greatest comic magazine.”

#1 Stan Lee and Jack Kirby 

Starting at the beginning of this group of hero’s mythology, it didn’t hurt that the creative team that gave them life was the team of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.  Covering the first 102 issues of the series, the duo laid the expansive groundwork that effectively made Marvel’s first family a successful narrative, combining larger than life adventure of a scientific/space bend with the dynamic of four people who had human issues with how they saw themselves, and how they would work together as individuals who have to rise above their individuality and work and live as a single entity.  Also, although not the first in the superhero world, the focus of the team was not crime fighting. Where popular titles from Superman, Batman to Spiderman spent a fair amount of time making the world a more decent place for the people in the cities they patrolled, the FF at their best is about exploration and defense of the galaxy.

#2 John Byrne, writer and artist. 

After the comic’s initial heyday, the popularity, and ultimately the quality of the writing and artistry of the pulp rag declined, and was often mired in comic book clichés, and only superficially touched on what the original run offered the reader. When Byrne took hold of the series though, the aspects that made the comic worth reading where brought back with a vengeance.  

#3 Walter Simonson, writer and artist.

My affinity with our #3 pick is perhaps the most superficial of the picks, but is still dear to myself because he was the writer artist for the first issue of any comic book that got me reading them regularly with his work on issue #337. While Simonson’s endeavors where of a great quality, they pale in comparison to many of this lauded writer and artist’s other endeavors (check out Simonson’s Sandman Mystery Theater for some of the best detective/vigilante writing I have read to date).  

#4  Jonathan Hickman, writer, and Steve Epting, artist
 After Simonson ended his run, Tom Defalco took over writing responsibilities for the Fantastic Four, and began the book’s decline. The art suffered, the character development ceased, and each issue seemed to always culminate in two teams of superhero’s fighting without much motive. This combined with the fact I was becoming more mature, and straying away from the pulp fiction, I took a hiatus from the comic book world for a good decade or so, until the announcement that a member of the FF would be killed off, for good this time.

While I was hesitant to be pulled into the comic book world again because of a gimmick, ultimately I bought the first issue, and realized what I was missing. Just like the prior writers and artists, Marvel had coupled talent that knew how to address the first family of comics with a scope that was fantastic, yet very human.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and are looking forward to more.  Please subscribe, comment, follow, or anything else to feed this narcissist.

Pope Crisco

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