December 8, 2011 | Trades
Trying to fill the shoes of comic book legends like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would be a daunting task for any writer/artist team.
But for just one man to take on the Fantastic Four? The legendary duo’s first Marvel Comics book? The series they spent the longest on? And to do arguably as good (or dare it be said better) job? You might say that’s impossible. Until you read Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus Vol. 1 (Marvel Comics, 1,096 pages, $140).
Byrne, a former Calgary resident and a member of the Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Fame, spend a year as the artist on Marvel’s flagship book beginning in 1979 and drew good reviews from fans.
However, it was when he took on both the writing and illustrating duties, beginning with the July 1981 issue, that he really began something special. What followed was a six-year run filled with epic adventures, intense and moving stories with dynamic art that pushed the series’ heroes — Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Thing and the newly renamed Invisible Woman (nee Girl, a defining moment in Marvel and feminist comics history) — to new heights.
Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus Vol. 1 is a whopper of a book that collects about half of Byrne’s work on the series, along with some nice bonus art pages all on crisp, clean high-quality paper in favour of the original newsprint (creating an experience not unlike listening to a CD after years of hearing the same tune on scratchy, old vinyl).
(This article first appeared in the Toronto Star)