The First Family Of Comic Books

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Written By Desi LaSalle

In 1961 Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the first superhero team title for Marvel comics. It was about a dysfunctional, yet loving, family with incredible powers and abilities that resulted from exposure to cosmic rays in outer space. The initial run of Stan the Man and Kirby is considered a classic with the introduction of characters such as Galactus, Silver Surfer, The Mole Man and Doctor Doom. One of the biggest differences that set the Fantastic Four comic apart from anything else is the fact that the protagonists had no secret identities and were basically celebrities to a public that were witnesses to their heroic deeds, all for the greater good. Over the years great artists such as Roy Thomas, John Buscema, George Perez, Steve Englehart, Walt Simonson and John Byrne have all contributed their own piece of magic to this flagship title for Marvel. The Fantastic Four was a dose of adventuresome realism, comedy and science fiction all at the same time. Marketed  as “ The Worlds Greatest Magazine”, I am completely baffled to why Marvel does not have a Fantastic Four comic being published right now, it is both tragic and sad. The recent colossal flop of the Fantastic Four movie should not in any way, shape or form, be tied to the ultimate fate of this once great comic book. If Hollywood studios cannot adequately portray on the screen the magic of certain comic book super-heroes, it should not have influence over whether or not the book should be published on a monthly basis. Marvel’s decision to not have a Fantastic Four comic on the shelves right now is a travesty. As an avid comic book fan I am greatly saddened by this fact.

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In June of 1984 , I read what I consider to be one of the greatest comic book stories of all time, in my personal opinion, and I highly recommend it to any Fantastic Four fan or comic book fan in general. It is issue #267, “A Small Loss”, written and drawn by John Byrne. In this issue Sue is suffering from labor complications and Reed Richards ends up having to ask Otto Octavius for help. What we get is a story deeply rooted within real life issues (primarily miscarriage and rehabilitation), with an ending that very few people would expect in a comic book. To this day, this story, in this comic book, still resonates to me on a personal level and represents to me what comics should be about. They are great form of literature, a means of great art; not something just for kids to read. The Fantastic Four has always been a cornerstone comic for Marvel, with toys, cartoon shows and four movies that have all, unfortunately, not been able to capture the essence of what makes the Fantastic Four so great. Many of us love this title, even now, when it is nowhere to be seen!? So Marvel, what are you waiting for to bring back the first family of comic books?

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