The Fantastic Four are prepared to celebrate sixty years of fantastical stories with a massive new anniversary special.
Marvel’s Fantastic Four: The First 60 Years is being published on Oct. 25 courtesy of Titan Comics. The upcoming hardcover collection will give readers a breakdown of the eponymous heroes’ journey throughout the decades, beginning with the team’s original debut in 1961’s Fantastic Four #1 (by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Art Simek) all the way to the Multiverse shattering events of the 2010s. CBR has an exclusive extract highlighting Walt Simonson’s run on the series, which began in 1989 with Fantastic Four #334. CBR also has an exclusive preview of Fantastic Four #334 (by Simonson, Rich Buckler, Romeo Thangal, George Roussos and Bill Oakley), along with additional pages from 1989’s Avengers #300 (by Simonson, John Buscema, Tom Palmer, Paul Becton, Marc Siry and Bill Oakley)showing Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic and Sue Storm/the Invisible Woman joining Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
A DECADE OF SURPRISES. It was a time of long and epic sagas, incredible cliffhangers, and crucial turning points. But the 1990s was also a decade in which Marvel introduced new innovations that took the to new heights of popularity. Steve Englehart’s replacement on Fantastic Four made his debut with issue #334 (December 1989). It was Walt Simonson, known to fans for his hit run on Thor. At the time, the cast was made up of the four classic members (with the Thing now in his human form as Ben Grimm),as well as new arrival Sharon Ventura. Simonson had already worked on Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman a few months earlier, during a brief stint on The Avengers, “I put Reed and Sue in The Avengers,” Simonson explained years later in a book about his work by Two Morrows Publishing. “Steve Englehart had been writing Fantastic Four for some time. He wrote Reed and Sue out of the FF. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting to have these guys in the Avengers?’ You’ve got Captain America and Reed, both accustomed to the habit of command. You’ve got some interesting character interactions.”
VILLAINS AND POLITICS. The instructions from the higher-ups were changing. Tom DeFalco wanted more coordination between series. For a title like The Avengers, where almost every character was having adventures as the lead of their own title, this meant constantly changing plans. According to Simonson, writing The Avengers was getting complicated: “So I got off The Avengers with #300, having just put a new team together. I had a whole bunch of stories lined up to do. About five seconds after I quit, I was offered Fantastic Four, because Steve [Englehart] had left the title. The editorial powers that be had decided that the Fantastic Four should be Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben.” It was Ralph Macchio, then editor, who offered Simonson the job. Simonson explained, “I had all these stories lined up for Avengers. They were stories that, among other things, involved Reed and Sue. I just pulled the stories over to the Fantastic Four.” The first story arc was tied to the “Acts of Vengeance” event. This saw all the heroes, in their own titles, take on a coalition of villains that included Loki (the incognito instigator of the criminal organization), Doctor Doom, Magneto, and Red Skull. The villains had decided to “swap” enemies thinking they could beat them more easily that way. In Fantastic Four issues #334 and #336 (published at the end of 1989 and the start of 1990), different Super Villains attached the quartet. Unfortunately, the attack happened right as Reed Richards was in a special congressional meeting where he was objecting to the idea of a Super Hero registration act. The villains were finally defeated, and even human Ben Grimm – using a Thing exoskeleton – participated in the fight. Thanks to the heroic actions of the FF, Congress gave up on the Superhuman Registration Act for the time being. For the second story arc, Simonson replaced Rich Buckler on pencils and inks, and found himself in the role of writer-artist. When it came to the scripts, he drew on many of his old plans for The Avengers, and borrowed Thor and Iron Man. “Because it was a guest-star situation, unlike The Avengers,” he said, “I got to use some of the original Avengers in this story the way I couldn’t have used them in The Avengers itself.”
Celebrating 60 Years With Marvel’s First Family
Titan’s description of Marvel’s Fantastic Four: The First 60 Years reads, “A celebration of 60 years of Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four! This deluxe book explores the comic book history of the Fantastic Four from their 1960s origins to the present day. With lavish illustration, the greatest adventures of Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm – otherwise known as Mister Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Thing, and The Human Torch – are charted, with behind-the-scenes stories of each era. This title also features an in-depth guide to their most terrifying foes including the Mole Man, Galactus, and their greatest rival, the sinister Doctor Doom!”
Marvel’s Fantastic Four: The First 60 Years is slated for release only weeks ahead of Marvel’s ongoing Fantastic Four series’ upcoming relaunch on Nov. 9. Acclaimed creator and artist Alex Ross’ cover for the first issue of the new series features new costumes for Marvel’s First Family to coincide with the next era in their decades-long story. The iconic artist also recently produced an original graphic novel entitled Fantastic Four: Full Circle. “This is the manifestation of a long-held desire to define a certain approach to the Fantastic Four book,” Ross previously said of the novel.
Marvel’s Fantastic Four: The First 60 Years goes on sale on Oct. 25 from Titan Comics. Pre-orders are currently available on Amazon and Books-A-Million.
Source: Titan Comics
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