Aug 8, 2011

Four of the Best: Marvel Masterworks FF #1

So lately I've been reading Marvel Masterworks Fantastic Four. The first volume, handilly numbered #1, contains the first 10 issues of Fantastic Four, in glorious remastered colour. It's the first time I've ever read these stories in colour -- well, most of them (I own issue 8, and a repro issue 1). For a huge Fantastic Four fan like me it's a joy to have an excuse to enjoy these stories again.

So I thought I'd pick out four of the very best panels from the TPB -- one for each main character -- to share with you. I'm sure other 80 Page contributors will copy this brilliant idea with other books, but let's be honest, it makes the most sense with Fantastic Four. So let us begin, shall we?

The other speech bubble is from
Reed Richards, who's dressing Ben.
 Ben Grimm dressed as a pirate is frickin' awesome. It's also a great early character moment. This panel is from Fantastic four #5, the first appearance of Doctor Doom. Doom sends the FF back in time to the time of the pirates. In this rough-and-tumble time, where men are men, Ben actually finds himself kind of at home. With his fake beard and eye patch, and heavy clothes he's not just feared -- he's feared and respected.

This respect makes Ben reconsider going back with the others -- it's a neat glimpse into who he is as a character. Which is kinda awesome.

Oh that Reed, always bankrupting
the Fantastic Four...
This is my favourite panel from this set of four. Reed Richards, super genius, has just bankrupted the Fantastic Four. Why? Because he's not a goddamn economist. I love this. One of the problems with Reed Richards as a character is that he's too often just a blanket genius. Too often just because he's a genius he can do anything 'smart'.

It's so nice to see a scene that shows that while he's really smart at science even Reed can lose on the stock markets. This one is from Fantastic Four #9 which sees the team making their money back by making a movie for Sub Mariner's film production company. No, seriously.

(By the way, don't get me wrong, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were both mega-guilty of making Reed smart at everything, just like everyone else. Like the fact that he's a judo master!)

Lookin' good in red, Sue!
 This one's a little more subtle than the other panels. It's from Fantastic Four #5 again. Doom demands Sue as a hostage. Not only does she volunteer herself to keep the others safe, she's also doing it completely defiantly. She's such a different character, even at this early stage, to the whiney snivelling, prying girlfriends from DC comics. I'm lookin' at you, Vicky Vale.

(Seriously, taking Sue hostage in early FF is a really, really dumb thing to do. She will fuck your shit up. She certainly did to Doom in this story.)

Johnny was deliberately drawn in this more
firey form early on, by #3, though, he'd
settled down to looking more like the original
Human Torch.

And this of course is from Fantastic Four #1. Flying is Stan Lee's favourite super power (see also: Angel being his favourite X-man), so it's not surprising to see Johnny's elation here. But it's such a great character moment. While everyone else is reacting with horror to their new powers Johnny (despite setting fire to a goddamn forest) is just delighted.

It's awesome, and those, my friend, were four of the best.

--Andrew S.

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