Friday, August 31, 2012

Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus - Volume 1

Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus - Volume 1Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus - Volume 1 by John Byrne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Byrne was largely responsible for making the Fantastic Four a must read title during the 1980's. This huge omnibus is the beginning of his run.

The first story in the omnibus is a two parter from Marvel Team-Up featuring Spiderman, the Human Torch, and Ms. Marvel taking on the Super Skrull, Byrne's first stab at drawing members of the Fantastic Four. From there, we get a tale from Marvel Two-In-One where the Thing takes a potential cure back in time to give to his past self, Byrne's first stab at writing and drawing the Fantastic Four.

Once the preliminaries are out of the way, we start with Byrne's run as the artist on Fantastic Four with Bill Mantlo and Marv Wolfman doing the writing. It's a cosmic epic co-starring Nova, the Champions of Xandar, and others battling the Sphinx and the Skrulls. You know the manure is hitting the windmill when the FF go to Galactus for help. The storyline with the Xandarians isn't bad I'm chomping at the bit to get to the run with Byrne as the artist AND writer.

It's not until the %25 mark that Byrne's epic run begins. Before that happens, Terrax was introduced, Blastaar made an appearance, and HERBIE betrayed the Fantastic Four. One interesting sidebar from this time period, at one point John Byrne was penciling both the Fantastic Four and the X-Men every month, then left the Fantastic Four to do Captain America for a few issues because two team books a month was too much.

Once Byrne takes the writing reigns, the book picks up a notch. I'm not going to say it's still not an 80's comic but it's noticeably better. Byrne makes Diablo a credible threat to the Fantastic Four in his first outing pulling double duty.

From there, the series takes a cosmic turn. Byrne introduces the Frankie Raye version of Nova, who will later become Galactus' herald, puts the gang up against Ego, the Living Planet, and sees them helping Galactus against Terrax. Old standbys Dr. Doom and the Inhumans are used but their stories are fairly fresh. The FF go up against The Gladiator of The Shi'ar and return to the Negative Zone.

A lot of other things happen as well. This is a big damn book at over 1000 pages and it's not even Byrne's full run. By the end, the Thing is still a member and hasn't yet been replaced by She-Hulk.

The way I look it, John Byrne brought his A game to the Fantastic Four and his run was as epic as Lee and Kirby's in scope. If you're a fan of the Fantastic Four or John Byrne, this is a must read.

How long do I have to wait until the next volume is released?

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