Good Time for FF Fans

By | Wednesday, April 12, 2006 1 comment
You know, for years, fans of the Fantastic Four (like myself) were limited to only one book about our favorite team. If you wanted an FF fix, you pretty much only had one choice since the team didn't even appear as guest stars in other books all that often. But today, we've got several different FF titles on the market right now: Fantastic Four, Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four, The Thing, Fantastic Four: First Family, Ultimate Fantastic Four and Marvel Knights 4.

Now, it seems to me that the "main" FF book should be the definitive one. It should be the one that all FF fans flock to and say, "This is the best FF book on the market!" There'd be dissenters, of course but, by and large, the level of quality should be higher in the main book than the others.

So why is that not the case?

Ultimate FF certainly wins in terms of sales numbers; it's currently selling about 30,000 more copies than Fantastic Four. (Of course, we all know sales numbers don't necessarily reflect quality anyway!) Personally, I've been enjoying Thing and First Family much more lately. I've not heard much from others about First Family but I don't know anyone who's tried The Thing and not thought it was a better story than what's in Fantastic Four. I haven't really heard anyone who's claiming that JMS and McKone should be thrown OFF the book, but I haven't heard anyone clamoring to keep the on indefinitely either. And, though I personally haven't tried it, I don't know anyone who's reading Marvel Adventures and not liked it.

So, why do we have what could be considered better creative teams on four books OTHER than the main one?
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I agree. I don't want to knock what JMS is doing -- he's definitely brought some interesting ideas to the table. However, I honestly haven't been particularly keen on his execution of some of those ideas. The child services sub-plot, for example. Brilliant idea; I've been waiting to see something like that for years. But the actual execution of it felt forced and unnatural to me. The Army trying to capitalize on cosmic rays? Great. Reed being the architect of the FF's creation? Sure. But the execution of the ideas seemed to lack spirit. I felt like I was reading the old Handbooks.

I think you're right, plok, that trying to pitch the FF in the "high-concept" movie/TV model doesn't work very well. You might be able to use that a baseline, but you can't limit yourself to that structure. Imagine if Roddenberry had really kept Star Trek as "Bonanza in space"? Would that property have lasted four decades? Doubtful.

Take a look at any great piece of literature. It almost invariably will be about the human condition AS A WHOLE, not one small aspect of it. Wells' Citizen Kane, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Kirby's "Fourth World"... They're about what it means to be human, not about "Okay, what kind of whacky adventures happen when the FF go broke".