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Sunday, 11 April 2021
A 'FAVOURITE COMICS OF THE PAST' REPOST: THE WAY IT BEGAN...
Copyright MARVEL COMICS
I bought my original copy of the above mag - FANTASTIC FOUR #126 - in a newsagents in Hamilton, Scotland, on Friday, October 6th 1972. I should've been at school, and would've been if not for the fact I'd already been off ill for a day or two and there was no point in going back on the last day before the weekend. I therefore remained absent, and - as I was feeling slightly better as the morning wore on - my father took me with him when he journeyed into Hamilton on some errand or other.
I also picked up another copy of The MIGHTY WORLD Of MARVEL #1 that afternoon (released only the Saturday before), the second issue being due out the next day. I well remember the fun I had comparing JACK KIRBY's version of the FF's origin with JOHN BUSCEMA's - it sure was difficult to decide on just which interpretation was best, although Big John's was a tad more dynamically rendered. Having said that, he was channelling Jack's solid storytelling principles through his own style, so Kirby deserves a share of the credit, I suppose.
This was ROY THOMAS's first issue as regular scripter of the FF. He'd written some fill-in stories before, of course, when STAN LEE was on vacation, but this was his 'debut' as the quartet's ongoing scribe now that Stan had been promoted to president and publisher with little or no time for writing. At least, that was the plan, but Rascally Roy's increased duties as newly appointed editor-in-chief meant that he soon had to turn the regular scripting chores over to someone else. (Step forward twenty year old boy-genius, GERRY CONWAY.)
This issue was intended to be a new beginning for the fabulous foursome, and the title managed to offer some respectable stories before losing its impetus somewhere along the line. Eventually, the comic began to tread water, until writer/artist JOHN BYRNE came on board with issue #232 in 1981. His 'Back to Basics' first issue succeeded in revitalising the flagging series and managed to restore some much-needed credibility to the title's famous front-cover tag-line - "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!" FF fans everywhere were mighty grateful.
However, with that landmark 126th issue back in 1972, the heady hint of promise hung heavy in the air, and - for a while at least - the expectations of the faithful were not disappointed.