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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Marvel Milestone Edition - Fantastic Four #1

One of Marvel's reprint initiatives in the first half of the 1990s was the occasional "Milestone Edition", complete cover-to-cover (except for the CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 edition) reprints of various key books. Naturally FF #1 (1961) was among them.

First of all, none of the ads are very interesting. All the usual comic ads of the period, no house ads. Just so you know.

The cover is the usual altered version that appears in most reprints, with only three by-standers on the streets instead of five. It remains a great cover.

Presumably everyone is familiar with the story, which as always has a few problems as it would be a few issues before they really figured out the characters and where they wanted to go with this. Among the odd things that I always forget until I re-read it is that the FF were in "Central City" for the first issue, not New York. I also always get surprised at how destructive they are in this first issue, with Sue pushing people out of the way and scaring a cab driver, Ben destroying a store's doorway, two streets and a car and Johnny burning his way out of his car and destorying a plane when they respond to Reed's signal.

That introduction is followed by the origin flashback, of course, which is my favourite part of the issue. While it doesn't make much sense when you think about it too much, Kirby's art is excellent in this sequence, full of panels that have become classics.

Their first adventure, against the Mole Man, follows in the second half of the issue. It's a satisfactory enough story, mostly highlighted by the creatures of Monster Isle. Overall this is what you'd expect from a first issue of the era of a company with an uncertain future, a bit rough around the edges compared to the later work but with a lot of energy and hints of what would soon make it such a revolutionary book. While I'm still uncertain about how much I'd pay for the MAXIMUM FF book analyzing it in detail (still no word on when that'll come out), re-reading it now I can see how it might be interesting to see such an analysis for this more than almost any other single super-hero comic.

The inker is, of course, one of the mysteries of the ages. Christopher Rule seems to be the top contender among people who are familiar with other inking of the period, but that's far from certain.

Published 1991

1 comment:

gorjus said...

Bob, good points about how destructive they were. That story--complete with bogus locale--is very much the bridge between old sci-fi horror stuff and the future Jack & Stan were creating.

I've never seen that page shrunk down so much before; it's so DENSE. Reminds me of Jack's way older daily work, or of a lot of dailies in general.