Monday, January 4, 2016


Some time back, when I wrote about my 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.

Then the books sat unread for a few years -- until now. It's apparently become my unexpected goal around here to cover classic comic book runs of the eighties. I did the 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!

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  1. With some luck, I may be able to join you with reading the comics.
    I am bidding on the Byrne run on eBay.
    So, with some luck I may get them.

    1. Great, good luck with your bid! Hope to see you following along.

    2. And I won !
      Unfortunately I only won the main Fantastic Four issues and the associated annuals.
      Not the crossovers, one shots or mini series.
      But I will be able to keep pace with the main Fantastic Four series, when they arrive in a week or two.
      In the mean time I uploaded my review for Gold Digger 1 and you and other people can read along.

    3. Congrats!

      You may be in luck on the issues, anyway. Though most collections (VISIONARIES trades, Omnibus volumes) include ALPHA FLIGHT #4, three issues of THE THING, an issue of AVENGERS and an AVENGERS ANNUAL, everything is completely understandable without including most of it. I've deemed that only the ALPHA FLIGHT issue is essential to the run, as well as a few pages from THING #10, which I'll touch on very briefly, same as I did with AVENGERS 235 when I covered Roger Stern's Spider-Man.

      The only thing I'm adding from outside the Omnibus collection is MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #18, spotlighting She-Hulk, since it takes place during her time as a member of the FF. But aside from those two, this series will be all FF and annuals, nothing more.

      You can see an exact list of what we'll cover and in what order right here.

    4. I have actually gotten in to digital comics on DVD and CD by GIT corp ( No, don't laugh.)
      I bought their 40 years of Spiderman ( 500 comics)
      44 years of the Fantastic Four ( 550 comics)
      50 years of X-men ( 485 comics)
      The Ghost Rider Collection ( all ghost rider series up to september 2006 )
      The Ultimate X-men Collection ( all ultimate x-men comics )
      The Ultimate Star Trek collection ( all star trek comics from the 1960's untill 2003 )
      and the IDW Transformers collection ( 25 marvel comics reprints )

      That is well over 2000 comics and they are a great little thing to have, because I can easily load them up on my ipad and read thousands upon thousands of comics in something that weighs less then a paperback
      Off course, having an actual comic book or an omnibus is also great to have, but on the go or when your not in the mood to tote a big heavy and expensive book with you, the ipad route is a great choice.