Out this week in comic book shops is the latest extra-sized treasury edition from Marvel Comics, Fantastic: Four Antithesis. It’s a four-issue series by Mark Waid and Neil Adams, which comes in at a whopping 8.75″ x 0.65″ x 13.3″ and a thicker cover. But wait, there’s more, as this collection features X-Men #65 and Fantastic Four #60 as bonuses in the never-before-seen larger format! This is a great way to celebrate the Fantastic Four due to the larger size, but how do the stories hold up?
If you’re a fan of Neal Adams, this book is a must purchase. His style is in-your-face, loud, and maximizes the space of every super large page. Fantastic Four: Antithesis marks the first time Mark Waid and Neal Adams worked together, and both bring a nostalgic vibe to this story. This book is a reminder of how comic books are a unique form of entertainment because of how over-the-top and melodramatic they can be. Again, this Treasury format maximizes that. The Fantastic Four are one of the weirdest groups of heroes thanks to their powers, and Adams expertly draws them into the opening action scene of this book to convey that. Even The Thing, who is weird in his own way, is depicted even weirder thanks to his big open mouth and huge teeth throughout the book.
Adams has a weighted style that can make Mr. Fantastic’s elongated arms that much more real, or Johnny Storm’s flames that much more tactile. Adams is one of the only artists in comics who could do a close-up of all four characters’ heads and make it look cool and dramatic. It’s bold, for better or worse, and it’s entertaining because of that.
As far as the plot of Fantastic Four: Antithesis, Waid sets up a fun action scene at the start with Annhilus to help remind us of the team’s powers and relationship, throws in some family stuff, and then kicks off the big conflict displayed on the cover. It pretty much has everything you’d want out of a Fantastic Four book, showing off their powers, having them detect and fight a problem scientifically, and reminding us of the quirks of their dynamics between one another. it also ties in Galactus in a very big way and does a few things we’ve never seen before. It also manages to remind us this is a team that deals with threats in a different way. When an asteroid, or some kind of missile, is launched at the city, Mr. Fantastic has a plan. But, it’ll take all four of the members to pull off the technological feat.
If you’re a fan of Golden Age you’re going to love this main story, but newer readers might find the near-constant open-mouthed screaming and melodrama a bit much. Lean into the classic vibes and you’ll be right as rain.
X-Men #65 and Fantastic Four #60 are great additions and it’s cool to see older stories collected in this format. X-Men is by Neal Adams and Dennis O’Neil, originally published in 1970. It utilizes a whole slew of X-Men like Cyclops, Havok, and Polaris and involves an extraterrestrial threat. It’s fun to compare Adams’ style and how it changed over 40 some odd years. The second story is by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo, which was originally published in 2002. The team is attempting to increase its popularity with a general audience via a public relations agent. It’s a great look at the amazing things the team does within a week, leads to the idea of launching a comic book called “F! F!”, and leads to the realization they aren’t heroes, but adventurers. It also comes with a touching ending about Reed Richards just wanting the best for his family.
So far, Marvel Comics has done an exceptional job with Treasury editions and this is another you can count on. From its loud main story to two fantastic classics from both Mark Waid and Neal Adams, this collection is a love letter to the Fantastic Four and to the creators. Buy this for the extra-sized experience, but stay for the nostalgia!
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