twelve favorite Marvel runs, I gave honorable mention to a few runs which didn't place. One was John Byrne's FANTASTIC FOUR, about which I said: "It's one of those runs ... which I feel should be here, but it just didn't connect with me like these others. But maybe someday, when I re-read it."
Well, "someday" has arrived. A few years back, Marvel collected Byrne's run in two Omnibus volumes. I initially passed on these for exactly the reason listed above -- the run had not connected with me the first time I read it, years earlier. But at some point, Omnibus volume one dropped to rock bottom prices in the aftermarket and I picked up a new copy for something like twenty dollars on eBay. I don't know if Marvel overestimated demand and overprinted or what, but for whatever reason it seemed retailers could barely give the book away. It appears that nowadays, the first volume has risen to a price point more or less in line with what one would expect. At any rate, after getting volume one dirt cheap, I picked up volume two as well, rationalizing that the average price between both was too good a bargain to pass up, even for a run that wasn't necessarily near and dear to my heart.
Micheline/Layton IRON MAN in 2013, 2014 saw me explore Roger Stern's SPIDER-MAN, and 2015 led off with Wolfman & Pérez on TEEN TITANS. Now, as we begin 2016, it's time for Byrne's FANTASTIC FOUR. Will this run impress me a bit more now than it did a decade or more back? Or will I again find it to be good but not great? I have a theory that a lot of fans love these stories simply because they were so much better than what came before. I've seen it said time and again that Byrne's run was the best since Lee & Kirby, which makes me assume the stuff between was just not very good. But, coming into these issues having not read anything that came earlier (not even Lee & Kirby) -- and having had their legend built up for several years before I got to them -- I wonder if I find the material simply "okay" because I have no other FF with which to compare it.
Anyway, let's see how this goes. I'm hoping that, having read it once before, I can better temper my expectations and perhaps figure out what all the fuss is about. I definitely recall there was some stuff I liked in these pages; it's just there was also a lot that did nothing for me.
So, you know the drill by now: issues 232 - 296 plus assorted annuals and crossover issues, every Monday and Wednesday from now until we finish!
Available on Amazon.com:
FANTASTIC FOUR BY JOHN BYRNE OMNIBUS Volume 1 | Volume 2