In a similar fashion to Giant-Size X-Men: Tribute To Wein & Cockrum, Marvel Comics is back with a tribute to the Fantastic Four. Contained here is a retelling of Fantastic Four #1 and Fantastic Four Annual #3, each page drawn by a different artist. It’s the same dialogue and story breakdown but drawn by some of the best artists in comics today. It’s a clever way to honor the past while also letting creators of today play around with the classics, but it is worth every penny? That’ll depend on how much you love these stories and these creators.
As a longtime comic book reader, I often wonder what comics would be like if Jack Kirby had the resources artists have today. This is one way to explore that idea, as each artist employs modern methods from better materials and tools. In that regard, this is an incredible work that demands you flip open the classic stories to compare the difference in art. For that reason alone, it’s a very cool reading experience.
It’s also cool to see how artists of today interpret the story, with some mimicking the original work while others take more liberties in how they’d show that art on a specific page. There are too many artists to list, but know there are many modern masters like Daniel Warren Johnson, Elsa Charretier, Paco Medina, Luciano Vecchio, Cafu, Nic Klein, Pepe Larraz, and Aaron Kuder to name a few drawing tales here. There are also comics legends involved with this work like John Romita Jr., Walter Simonson, Mark Bagley, Bryan Hitch, and Steve McNiven all drawing a page.
It’s quite clear most of these artists were likely not communicating with each other as pages don’t necessarily flow. Artist changes can be quite jarring, which changes the reading experience entirely. Instead of a sequential story to be enjoyed from cover to cover, your relationship to this work will likely be more about recognizing an artist and soaking up their style. In that respect, this book is like a celebration of how varied art can be and how wonderful it can be from color choices to level of detail.
In a lot of ways, Fantastic Four Anniversary Tribute is a book for comics super-fans. This isn’t the best way to read these stories — you’re better off going back and reading Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s originals — but it is one of the coolest ways to honor the past. It’s also a testament to the artists to see how they would approach some of the most important comics ever created. For that, pick this one up to enjoy the history and ongoing awesomeness of the Fantastic Four.
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