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Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fantastic Four, I’m taking a look at some of the stories featuring the characters over the past half-century.

John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run is pretty major as Marvel comic book runs go. It’s generally regarded to be one of the better comic book runs of the eighties, alongside Frank Miller’s Daredevil and Walt Simonson’s Thor, but it’s also widely regarded as the best run on Marvel’s flagship family since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby finished their record-setting run establishing both the series and the shared Marvel Universe. (The length of the run has since been surpassed, appropriately enough, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man.) This was my first time reading the run, which has received the massive omnibus treatment from Marvel. I have to admit, while not quite blown away by it, I was remarkably impressed by the love and craftsmanship that Byrne poured into the run. I wouldn’t class it as iconic or genre-defining, but it’s a remarkably solid examination of the franchise that launched the Marvel Universe.

Fantastic!

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Ultimate Galactus Trilogy (Review/Retrospective)

After spending the tail end of last year looking at the tangled inter-continuity crossovers at Marvel, I thought I’d spend January looking at some of the looser “out of continuity” tales at the major companies.

What does a continuity-lite crossover look like? I mean, a relatively self-contained comic book event that isn’t based upon years and years of events? Marvel famously launched their Ultimate line a decade ago to offer a chance to “reimagine” their classic stories – the Avengers became The Ultimates, and monthly issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four were available on the stands. The goal was to offer tales that would allow new readers to jump on board without having to worry about the weight of half-a-century (or more) worth of back story for the characters. Despite some minor crossover between the books – Mark Millar writing the Ultimates into his Ultimate X-Men run or Ultimate Spider-Man occasionally paying a short visit to the Baxter building – the line largely steered clear of the sort of bombastic big events that Marvel seems to love churning out month-on-month. So, what does an actual “big crossover event” look like when written for these characters? A bit like the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy, I suppose.

He's got the world in the palm of his hand...

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Annihilation – Vol. 1-3 (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

This is the fifth in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s mainstream shared universe over the past five or so years – primarily with a focus on The Avengers as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity. This is more of a tangential entry, though, as we’re going into space with marvel’s “cosmic” titles. But still, sometimes you need to go away to come back.

When people think of the Marvel crossover events of the past decade, they’ll name ones like Civil War or Secret Invasion or House of M. Very few will mention Annihilation, Marvel’s first big cosmic crossover event of the past ten years, but those few will generally speak quite highly of it.

The Silver Surfer goes for gold...

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