Sunday, 23 March 2014

JOHN BYRNE'S 'BACK TO BASICS' FANTASTIC FOUR COVER GALLERY - PART ONE...


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

When JOHN BYRNE took over The FANTASTIC FOUR as
writer and artist in 1981, he gave the title a much-needed shot in the
arm.  Arguably, not since the days of LEE & KIRBY had the mag been
as entertaining and exciting as it became under the stewardship of the
little lad from Great Britain.  He did two things that I liked immediately:
He reintroduced the thick collars on the FF's costumes and made
REED RICHARDS a skinny-looking guy again, as he had first
appeared in the early issues back in the '60s.

Another thing (no pun intended) I loved was when he returned
BEN GRIMM's epidermis to its pre-evolved dinosaur-type hide look,
'though I wish the change had been permanent rather than just for a few
issues.  One change I wasn't keen on 'though, was when The Byrnester
played cupid for ALICIA MASTERS and JOHNNY STORM, so I
was glad when that was later shown not to be what it appeared by
a subsequent creative team.

All good things come to an end, alas, and it was the same for
John Byrne's sixty-two and a bit issue run on The Fantastic Four
(not including Annuals or Specials).  He moved over to DC COMICS
to play in their sandpit for a while, reshaping their top hero, SUPER-
MAN - but what a legacy he left at MARVEL.  I'm fortunate enough to
have a complete set of the original issues of JB's unbroken run on the
title, plus the deluxe, two-volume OMNIBUS collections of his
classic contributions to the legend of Marvel's first family. 

Starting now is Part One of a series, showcasing the covers of
John Byrne's Fantastic Four.  Remember to return for future
instalments - I'd hate for you to miss them!


This was the first Byrne FF I bought, from the Virgin Megastore in
Glasgow.  I acquired the previous two issues a couple of months later


I missed this issue when it first went on sale, but obtained it by mail
order from Dave Hern's Wonderworld Comics in Bournemouth a couple
of months or so later.  This is a classic tale, but it's a shame that JACK
KIRBY's image was removed from the cover before publication


I remember reading this comic on the train on my way home from
Glasgow and being delighted beyond measure to see the return of
the 'original' Thing

Ah, Susan!  Be still, my beating heart

Yay!  The way 'things' used to be

I recall sitting in The Blue Lagoon in Glasgow one Saturday afternoon,
eating a Fish & Chips tea and carefully perusing this ish.  Memories!

Blue Lagoon for this ish as well.  Perhaps I bought both issues on the
same day, although I frequented the place quite regularly so maybe
it was on a subsequent occasion

Got this one in the local newsagent's of one of my old neighbourhoods
on Sunday, March 21st, 1982.  Another classic!

6 comments:

John Pitt said...

I used to have all these , so it's good to see them again ( especially Frankie Raye!)

Kid said...

Frankie Raye? Are you carrying a torch for her, JP? (See what I did there, eh? Ho ho!) If you've got a bit of spare dosh, it might be worth buying the two Omnibus volumes.

baab said...

ok I am intrigued.
Why did someone decide to remove Jack?

Kid said...

Jack was in dispute with Marvel at the time over the return of his artwork. Management instructed Jim Shooter to have the art department remove Jack from Stan's side, presumably to avoid inadvertently giving even a hint of an impression that Jack may have had any kind of claim on the characters. There's another account that claims Jack asked to be removed from the cover to avoid the suggestion that he endorsed anything that Marvel was doing and to prevent them profiting from the use of his image, but, for myself, I doubt he'd even have known about it. His lawyers may have asked for it on his behalf 'though, without him ever being aware of it.

Colin Jones said...

Wow, thanks for showing these, Kid. I loved John Byrne's FF too and I had all the issues shown here - they still look magnificent, don't they! However I wasn't that keen on the return of the wide collars but that's a minor quibble. As you say the FF became essential reading again and for me it was the "must have" comic of that time. But in late 1983 I abruptly stopped buying comics and didn't start again until 2007 so I didn't know anything about Johnny Storm and Alicia and I also missed the dreaded "white collars" phase which I'm not sorry about. I look forward to the next run of covers.

Kid said...

I had mixed feelings about the 'negative' costumes, Col. On the one hand, I actually thought it was a cool design; on the other, it was a change from the original and I don't like change, in the main. I also though that FF was ther 'must-have' comic of that period, along with the Marvel Tales reprints of Ditko's Spidey.

The next batch of covers will be showing up shortly, as I've now scanned the entire run.

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