ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 - But Why Tho

Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 is published by Marvel Comics, written by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Vince Colletta art by Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, Oscar Carreno, Dono Sanchez-Almara, Kate Niemczyk, David Lapham, Salvador Larroca, Greg Land, Jay Leisten, Frank D’Armata, Frederico Vicentini, Pepe Larraz, Jorge Fornes, Leonard Kirk, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Steve Epting, Stefano Coselli, Aaron Kuder, Rod Reis, Kim Jacinto, Neal Adams, Tom Reilly, Walter Simonson, Luciano Vecchio, John Romita Jr., JP Mater, Simone Di Meo, Albert Monteys, Leonardo Ortolani,  CAFU, Daniel Acuna, Nic Klein, Mathew Wilson, ACO, Adam Hughes, Ray Anthony Height, Lucas Werneck, Oscar Carreno, Sanford Greene, Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, Lenil Francis Yu, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Alex Sinclair, Mark Bagley, John Dell, Oliver Coipel, Alejandro Sanchez, Marco Checchetto, Marci Menyz, John Cassaday, Laura Martin, Javier Rodriguez, Ron Frenz, Brett Breeding, Daniel Warren Johnson, Elsa Charretier, Nick Filardi, Kei Zama, Paco Medina, Alessandro Cappuccio, Mike del Mundo, Patch Zircher, Michael Allred, Laura Allred, and Eirca D’Urso, with letters by Joe Caramagna.

60 years ago, four intrepid explores reached for the stars and having been bombarded by cosmic rays, fell to the Earth changed. These four individuals would come to be known as the Fantastic Four. The first family of Marvel Comics and one of the most recognizable teams in the comics medium. On this auspicious anniversary, Marvel Comics is celebrating by combining two of the team’s most significant stories into one book with all-new art by a veritable deluge of artistic talents taking turns, each reimagining a single page of these classic comics.

While the art in Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 may be updated with modern performances, the stories therein are untouched, going so far as to even include editor’s notes about events in other, at the time, recent comics. This fusion of old and new worked far better than I expected it to. While the comics of the ’60s were geared toward a younger audience than many modern books, the way Lee and Kirby deliver their stories still holds up surprisingly well. This is particularly true for the book’s first tale, which is the origin of the Fantastic Four.

Rather than start at the beginning with the legendary space flight, Lee and Kirby introduce the reader to the team after their powers have already been gained. Only once the reader’s curiosity is peaked do the creatives jump back in time to reveal the hows of the group’s transformation. Having never personally read the issue before, this change-up was a truly pleasant surprise. Reading something that feels fresh from something so far in the past was a wonderful experience.

While the story structure of Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1‘s first half was surprising, its second story didn’t age as well. Telling the tale of the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, this half of the book is a rapid-fire series of clashes between a who’s who of Marvel’s heroes and villains. While it does deliver some fun moments and cool exchanges, everything happens so fast that nothing ever really feels developed. Having said that, it does deliver the spectacle it is so clearly striving for.

With so many artists participating in this book’s presentation it would be impossible for every page to land for any one reader. However, the vast majority of the art delivers these classic tales well. There is a clear attempt to fuse the design and style of Kirby’s original lines with the modern techniques implemented by the current breed of artist.

What surprised me the most about Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 is how smoothly the transitions from one artist to another usually occur. Whether through planning or lucky chance, there are few page turns that jar the reader due to how much the art changes from one to the next. This is a huge step up from other projects I’ve seen that have tried similar artistic approaches with far worse results.

The one constant in the book’s visual delivery is Caramagna’s lettering. The letterer goes to great lengths to capture the old-school style of lettering that is instantly recognizable from classic comics. Caramagna also does a great job of keeping the lettering out of the way of the many artistic styles that grace the page.

When all is said and done, Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 delivers a fresh, yet reverent, take on two classic tales that celebrate the Fantastic Four’s remarkable place in comics history.

Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 is available November 17th wherever comics are sold.


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TL;DR

When all is said and done, Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute #1 delivers a fresh, yet reverent, take on two classic tales that celebrate the Fantastic Four’s remarkable place in comics history.