I grew up reading the Fantastic Four comics by John Byrne, on his legendary run in the 80´s.
John Byrne grew up reading the Fantastic Four comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the 60´s.
John Byrne filled his Fantastic Four pages with references of those early comics made by the king themselves.
So, the archeologist in me followed his natural curiosity, and went to look for those ancient gems in the 90´s, just to get
those references, to witness these events often mentioned.
There was a hardcover collection, named "MARVEL MASTERWORKS" back then, it was shockingly expensive, enough to scare my student self from it. Even years later, when I could obviously afford it, the "ghost of expensiveness" was still floating around.
Then came the internet, and with it, scans of comic books, and while drunk by the novelty, I was still a collector of tangible comics.
After all, when you buy a collectable of a movie, you´re buying a tangible souvenir of that movie experience you just had. Something you can touch, to help assimilate that as a real thing. Well, in the comic book world, sometimes the comic itself is proof enough of that world.
So, Marvel on its smartness, launched cheaper collections of his early comics, reprinting their classic tales in black and white in a "phone book" format, featuring, like the cover says "over 15 comics in continuity".
It´s hard to describe the sensation of reading it for the first time, it´s like reading the old testament of Marvel comics, a real time travel. Jack Kirby illustrations on its prime depicting Stan Lee´s solid storyline laying the foundation of the Marvel Universe.
Gosh, to witness the origins of the Fantastic Four, and its allies and enemies, the first appearance of Dr.Doom "the World´s most fearfull super-villain", it´s almost as if you could warn them of what´s to come. Ykes! There´s Dr.Doom, Namor, MoleMan, Puppet Master, the Red Ghost, Impossible Man and others.
Really, "Fantastic Four" is the Star Trek of comics, even more than the "Green Lantern", each edition presented new imaginative discoveries, new realms to explore, and situations that would be rehashed and copied countless times over the years. Too bad the "Coming of Galactus" storyline isn´t featured here, but you could feel it was going steadily in that direction, with each dangerous situation leading to another even more dangerous.
And it´s delightful to compare these first editions with later adaptations, like the two recent movies, which i found entertaining by the way, the classic Hanna Barbera cartoons, and the amazing recent Fantastic Four TV series (2006) by french animation company Moonscoop.
The episode "Impossible", from the latest Fantastic Four cartoon, featuring the hyperkinetic Impossible Man, was particularly hilarious, and quite close to the original version. Surely, this cartoon deserved much more than just one season. My best guess for it´s cancellation? Excessive quality.
Well, returning to this paperback edition, if your a Marvel fan, you've gotta pick this up, it is (paraphrasing a well known science fiction character) fascinating.