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'Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Dream Is Dead' review
Marvel

Comic Books

‘Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Dream Is Dead’ review

An era when Human Torch loved Alicia, and Sharon was rocky like Thing.

The Fantastic Four may be on one of the most endearing and heartwarming runs in comics right now, but why not kick back and read their adventures from the late ’80s? If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in luck, as Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Dream Is Dead is out in comic shops, collecting Fantastic Four (1961) #321-333, Fantastic Four Annual (1963) #22, Marvel Graphic Novel: Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom – Triumph and Torment (1989) in 464 pages of supervillain fights and tons of familial infighting. It’s an era where Sharon Ventura was turned into a similar form to Thing, and Human Torch was dating Alicia, Ben Grimm’s current wife. Talk about drama.

This era of Fantastic Four was headlined by Steve Englehart, Roy Thomas, and Roger Stern, with art by Ron Lim, Keith Pollard, Rich Buckler, Hilary Barta, and Mark Bagley. Then there is, of course, Stern and Mike Mignola’s Triumph and Torment, which is its own thing. This chunk of the story is permeated with unrest within the team, in part because Thing is now the leader and Reed Richards promises Sue not to intervene. Thing is also more pointy, and his girlfriend Sharon is totally cool with being a rocky “thing,” even telling Reed she likes the name.

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In fact, early on, Sharon ends up being a reoccurring issue for the team, bringing drama in, like overhearing Reed ask Alicia to apologize or leave the team or the time she fights She-Hulk because she wants to beat up the Hulk. She’s a hothead like Thing and also an instigator. She’s also a way to relive the awkwardness of a character going from a normal human form to a rocky “monster” since Thing is more comfortable as his rocky self. She’s also super melodramatic at times, which honestly, most of these team members are at some point. That can feel like a lot at times, but this is a soap opera after all.

If you like classic villains, this collection has them all. Doctor Doom, Mole Man, Kang, and Ultron are just a few that pop up. Near the end of the collection, they even fight copies of themselves, which is one of the longer teased stories that comes to an end. Early on, they face off against a supervillain team consisting of Klaw, Hydroman, Titania, and Wizard.

'Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Dream Is Dead' review

Sharon seems to create a lot of problems for the team.
Credit: Marvel

There isn’t a bad page of art in this collection, with most filled to the brim with characters in every panel. There’s a wide variety of heroes that pop up in this collection too, especially due to the “Atlantis Attacks” story arc that features heroes like Thor, Beast, and Hawkeye helping fight. Throw in the Fantastic Four Annual and you have a wide range of styles capping off an incredible era for the characters.

Closing out the collection is Marvel Graphic Novel: Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom – Triumph and Torment which is a classic. It doesn’t involve the Fantastic Four, but it’s nice to have in this Epic Collection line that’s reprinting every Fantastic Four comic as they were published. This came out just a few short years before Mignola gave up working at Marvel or DC Comics and went on to create Hellboy, and it’s fun to see his work on these big characters.

The late 1980s were a good time for the Fantastic Four, which is evident in Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Dream Is Dead. This is an era of a lot of change and writers experimenting with team dynamics as they clearly realized the characters can’t just fight a new villain every week. Instead, new romances flourish, heroes accept their lots in life, and the team dynamics change for better or worse. The only thing that really stays the same are the villains, who always seem to come back, but like in real life, the heroes fight and win to see another day.

'Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Dream Is Dead' review
‘Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Dream Is Dead’ review
Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Dream Is Dead
The late 1980s were a good time for the Fantastic Four, which is evident in Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The Dream Is Dead. This is an era of a lot of change and writers experimenting with team dynamics as they clearly realized the characters can't just fight a new villain every week. Instead, new romances flourish, heroes accept their lots in life, and the team dynamics change for better or worse. The only thing that really stays the same are the villains, who always seem to come back, but like in real life, the heroes fight and win to see another day.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.9
An interesting era for the team with Reed not as the leader and Sharon mixing things up
Nearly every major FF villain pops up in this one
I'd argue the Doctor Doom/Doctor Strange adventure feels a bit tacked on since the FF aren't involved
Like with most FF collections things can get quite melodramatic in an eye-rolling way at times
9
Great
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