From the House of Ideas: Three Titles for Fantastic Four Fans

I love the Fantastic Four. There have been so many eras of comics featuring Marvel’s First Family, and I’m always impressed how many great creators have left their mark on Reed Richards, Sue Richards, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm; the family dynamic always seems to shine brightly, even when the FF are battling villains anywhere and everywhere.

The current run written by Ryan North has been extremely intriguing, as over the course of a few issues we’ve learned how Reed, in hopes of saving New York City, made a horrible decision – to send a block of NYC and all who were there one year into the future. Reed and the team have become public enemies #1, and we’ve been watching as the entire team finally regroup and get back to doing what they do best. Issue #5 is a lot of run, as we see Reed up against the one thing he really can’t stretch his mind around (see what I did there?): magic!

The Fantastic Four are reunited and all is well…until their convoy is interrupted by NICK SCRATCH and SALEM’S SEVEN! It’s an all-out magical BATTLE for SURVIVAL right there on the highway, and the Fantastic Four 100% fail to win it. That’s right! This solicit isn’t going the way you thought it would! As the truth of what happened is puzzled out, Reed, Sue, Ben, Johnny and Alicia all realize that something more sinister has taken place, and their only hope of undoing it is an impromptu voyage into the unknown.

While the FF is having fun in the here and now, there have also been some recent releases that celebrate their illustrious past. I previously mentioned Fantastic Four: Full Circle for our Holiday Gift Guide, which I’d looked at in digital form. Now, while I’m someone who loves to read comics digitally, I highly recommend picking this title up as a physical hardcover. It just looks and reads so well in your hands, and the slipcover alone, which features a brief origin story of the FF is worth the price of admission alone. Published by Abrams as the first in their new Marvel Arts line, Fantastic Four: Full Circle is written and illustrated by comics legend Alex Ross and set during the early days of the team when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were creating comic book history.

It’s a rainy night in Manhattan and not a creature is stirring except for . . . Ben Grimm. When an intruder suddenly appears inside the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four—Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), the Invisible Woman (Susan Storm Richards), the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), and the Thing (Ben Grimm)—find themselves surrounded by a swarm of invading parasites. These carrion creatures composed of Negative Energy come to Earth using a human host as a delivery system. But for what purpose? And who is behind this untimely invasion?

The Fantastic Four have no choice but to journey into the Negative Zone, an alien universe composed entirely of anti-matter, risking not just their own lives but the fate of the cosmos!

Fantastic Four: Full Circleis the first longform work written and illustrated by acclaimed artist Alex Ross, who revisits a classic Stan Lee–Jack Kirby story from the 1960s and introduces the storyline for a new generation of readers. With bold, vivid colors and his trademark visual storytelling, Ross takes Marvel’s first team of super heroes to places only he can illustrate. The book also features a special poster jacket, with the front flap unfolding to reveal an all-new fully painted origin story of the Fantastic Four.

Welcome to the Negative Zone and MarvelArts—a new collaborative line of books between Marvel Comics and Abrams ComicArts—where nothing is impossible and anything can happen!

Speaking of Stan and Jack, also from Abrams is the recently released Fantastic Four No. 1: Panel by Panel, which is a reimaginging of a previously published book that delivers the pivotal first issue of the FF in a unique way, by highlighint every single panel that makes up the debut of the team. It’s an excellent exploration of the art work of King Kirby and, with the help of the various contributors to the book, gives fans as much insight as one could ask for to the creation of a classic.

Timed for the 60th anniversary, the iconic and influential first issue of the Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, deconstructed by award-winning designer Chip Kidd; with text by Marvel editor Tom Brevoort and historian Mark Evanier; and photographs by Geoff Spear

The first issue of Fantastic Four by legendary creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced fans to a now-iconic team of Super Heroes—Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Human Torch, and the Thing—ushering in the modern Marvel Age of comics. Kirby’s artistic contributions in this comic book revolutionized visual storytelling and brought a new reality to the way comics stories could be told, the ripple effects of which continue to influence comic book art to this day. Sixty years after its publication in November 1961, this reimagining by award-winning graphic designer Chip Kidd uses an original copy of the comic book (which initially sold for ten cents and now sells for astronomical prices in good condition) to present the classic story in a whole new way that is sure to engage both lifelong fans and the latest generation of Marvel enthusiasts. The book also includes text by Marvel editor Tom Brevoort and historian Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics). Stunningly photographed by award-winning photographer Geoff Spear, Fantastic Four no. 1 is showcased as you’ve never seen it before—oversized and up-close—a panel-by-panel exploration of the entire issue that captures every single detail and nuance of Lee’s story and Kirby’s groundbreaking artwork, making it a must-have for every comic book collection.

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