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CSBG Archive

You Decide ’11 – Who is Your Favorite Regular Fantastic Four Writer?

Each day this month, I’ll be posting a different poll question – each poll will last five days, and I’ll reveal the results of the finished polls every Tuesday.

This way, for this month, we can see what our readers feel about various comic book questions. For a month, you folks will decide! Click here to see the other questions that you can answer as well as checking out the latest poll results!

Read on for the latest poll question!

67 Comments

Ouch!

I think they forgot someone…

You did not leave out Mark Waid! WTH? I love Stan Lee and Chris Claremont’s runs but Waid is the best writer the Fantastic Four ever had. EVER. Now maybe you were just intending to get people riled up (and it worked) or maybe it was an honest oversight but I implore you not to make it worse. Add Mark Waid please. Also (and this will probably get me yelled at) I’m already putting in my vote for Mike Weiringo as best FF artist and Waid/Ringo/Kessel as best FF team. Please don’t throw things at me.

Ha!

In all honesty, I think I saw “Mark” and figured I had it in there, not realizing it was Millar. All is fixed now! My apologies.

Luckily, only 20 people had voted by the time I put it in there, so it hopefully won’t make a difference. I’ll give you a couple of percentage points, Mark, when I add it all up. ;)

i’m glad you added him in time for me to vote.

On the off chance you’ve forgotten, just a little reminder that the last two Cover Theme Game answers aren’t up yet.

Thanks Brian! I’ll take the pins out of the voodoo doll I made up after you now. :)

Tom Fitzpatrick

February 4, 2011 at 4:26 am

Good thing you’re the Dread Lord and Master, otherwise you’d be fired for SUCH an glaring mistake! ;-)

To err is downright not human!!!!!! ;-)

Well, I had to go with the dull choice and say Byrne. Couldn’t be avoided. In terms of sheer volume of good stories and fond memories, his was a golden run.

But I do love Jonathan Hickman’s writing. And Mark Waid got me reading FF again as well.

And for nostalgia, I love me some Wolfman Skrull/Sphinx/Galactus epics.

I wish the questions was “After Lee and Kirby, who is your favorite . . . “

I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that, after all these years, with a list so long, that the only real options are Lee & Kirby, Byrne, Simonson, and Waid. Anyone that votes for anybody else probably should go re-read the runs by those gentlemen.

Byrne’s Fantastic Four was the first I remember reading, and the first place I remember Sh-Hulk, so I’ve got a soft spot for it. But Waid’s interpreted Lee’s & Kirby’s vision for the FF better than Stan and Jack did themselves.

I really don’t think any of the others are good candidates. Stan Lee & Jack Kirby are way up there, while I haven’t read enough of Simonson’s run. Byrne was different, fresh & exciting for that time but in light of the other writers it has aged. I really want to like Mr Moench’s run, as after his Batman & MOKF I’ve got a soft spot for the guy but I haven’t been able to find it yet. DeFalco was OK, nothing spectacular.
The only contenders which I feel worthwhile are Lee, Waid, McDuffie & Straczynski.
Of these, Waid gets the vote.

Aalok, you deserve it to yourself to read Simonson’s run. It definitely deserves to be listed among Lee, Waid, McDuffie & Straczynski.

I love the FF! My first exposure came during the Marv Wolfman/Keith Pollard days via my older brother’s collection, I was onboard for the entire John Byrne run, enjoyed the Simonson and the Waid/Weiringo runs, but you can’t top Stan and Jack.

But Waid’s interpreted Lee’s & Kirby’s vision for the FF better than Stan and Jack did themselves.

Waid’s was awful. Kirby as God. Fanwankery at its worst. The whole “they’re not superheroes, they’re “imaginauts?” nonsense? And while Torch was a hothead and could be superficial, he was never the outright moron Waid depicted him as, he was practically Joey Tribiani from Friends. The Clobberin’ Time rap? Torch as the guy who was secretly the Yancy St. Gang this whole time? And so on and so on.

I could tell he was getting it wrong from the first issue, because he’s more a DC thinker than a Marvel thinker. In DC, the public worships the heroes like gods in a pantheon, with reverence and inspired awe. Lee and Kirby viewed humanity more like Thomas Hobbes and Charles Dickens did, a selfish, petty, brutish mass that occasionally could transcend their selfishness to do great things of social interest. That’s why there were always so many mob scenes in their books and the public would turn on their heroes on a dime. That first issue where people were walking around in constant awe of the positivity of the Fantastic Four was not Lee/Kirby to me, that was more like one of those Eliot S! Maggin Superman stories dedicated to nothing but people treating Superman quasireligiously and telling the reader how divine and inspiring he is nonstop from beginning to end. In the Lee/Kirby spirit, the public should be more like the people who watch TMZ, they worship but in superficial, shallow ways, like papparazzi and tabloid readers.

To me in classic Marvel books, the biggest, underappreciated supporting cast member is Joe Q. Public, especially in books like Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, and it’s also the hardest classic Marvel character for successors to get right. I head Waid did a better job with Joe Q. Public in his FF issues where Spider-Man guest-starred but I was done with the book by then.

That reporter from the first issue belonged in a Superman story like Superman for All Seasons or something. If I wanted to read stories like that, I’d read Superman, Wonder Woman or other A-list DC books.

I voted Lee/Kirby, but for second place I’d put Jonathan Hickman. I had a good feeling about him when I read that he got the gig without having ever read a Fantastic Four book in his life, and had to do a cram session to catch up. He already was a brilliant writer, and the fact that he had no nostalgic, fanboy romanticized attachment to the characters to me meant he wouldn’t let fanwankery cloud his brilliant creativity. And it turned out to be true. Kurt Busiek for example is a great, great writer, like on Arrowsmith and Astro City, but with Avengers his fannishness often clouded his writing judgment in my opinion.

For third place, I’d put Walt Simonson and Byrne in a tie. Byrne was good overall, but he did make a few major missteps that hurt his overall rating to me, like Torch sleeping with Alicia and a little too much pet character treatment of She-Hulk, who I like but I felt he was a little too into.

Wesley Smith says: But Waid’s interpreted Lee’s & Kirby’s vision for the FF better than Stan and Jack did themselves.

Wow…. I think even Waid himself will vehemently disagree with you on this. I agree with some of what T. is saying. The Torch being responsible for the Yancy Street Gang pranks discounts many in story appearances and I also did not like the regression of the Torch. Unfortunately it seemed Mark Millar followed that template when he had him referred to as a male Paris Hilton. I have to say I liked Sue forcing him into being responsible by being in charge of the business for a while. I just wish writers hadn’t rebooted him constantly over the years. Stan and Jack were about growing the characters, not a wash-spin-rinse repeat cycle.

And I still think the Valeria killed in “Unthinkable” was a fake.. She looked like she was 60 for gawd’s sake!!!

Good points regarding Waid’s run, T. To me the only thing that even comes close to touching Lee/Kirby is Simonson’s run.

Byrne. Even if all he did was #242-244, it would still be Byrne. Those three issues are golden.

The Crazed Spruce

February 4, 2011 at 9:46 am

I loved Waid’s, Byrne’s, and Simonson’s run, and seriously regret that Scott Lobdell’s run was cut too short to mention, but when all is said and done, there really is only one REAL choice. Stan and Jack.

‘Nuff said.

Leslie Fontenelle

February 4, 2011 at 9:48 am

Lee & Kirby for me. Waid’s run was highly irregular despite some strong moments, Byrne’s run was quite self-indulgent and hasn’t aged well despite its superficial technical excellence… and even though Simonson’s run was very sharp and creative, the original Lee-Kirby run had a manic energy and earnestness that trumps everything that came afterwards (even if their dialogue was occasionally painful, as so many comics’ dialogues from that time are).

Everything T. says was a bug, I think is a feature.

Obviously, Lee and Kirby are gonna win, here. But not having read much of their run– though the ones I have read are classics– it was a coin toss between Simonson and Waid for me, and I went with Simonson. Walt’s run didn’t last long enough to start running out of juice.

There isn’t enough love out there for Claremont’s run but I still have to go for Byrne. Always re-readable.

Stan and Jack. and by the way, thanks for including Jack, as he contributed a lot more than pencils to the book.

After Stan and Jack, I’m torn. I like most of the pre-Heroes Reborn run to varying degrees. Thomas and Conway did a nice job of bringing the team into the 1970s, and telling some great stories. Wein’s run was too short, and Wolfman I think handicapped himself by trying two epics, but I did enjoy their issues, too. Doug Moench is a great writer, who just didn’t click for me at all on the Fantastic Four. I hate his FF issues, but like lots and lots of his other works. Sorry, Mr. Moench. I think Byrne’s run was great at the time, but has probably aged the poorest of most of the older runs. I admire Englehart and DeFalco for trying long-term shake-ups to the status quo, and think that their runs are underappreciated. Simonson brought some fun new ideas into the book, and I particularly liked the time travel fight.

The Heroes Reborn series did nothing for me. It just seemed redundant. Claremont had the same problem Moench did – good writer, just didn’t work for me on the FF. Since the poll disappeared after I voted, I have to confess I can’t remember who worked ont he FF with Pacheco after Claremont’s run. That run seemed like a re-run of the Byrne issues. Entertaining enough at the time, but not memorable enough to stick in my mind. Waid’s run was really good — Loved the first issue with actual insight into Reed’s motivations, and I am delighted that he got Dr. Doom right. JMS didnt’ do anything for me. McDuffie’s run was too short, but was definitely enjoyable. I didn’t like the PR for MIllar’s run, so dropped the book when McDuffie left, and haven’t’ read any of Hickman’s run either.

You know, overall, the book has really been of pretty high quality. Tha’ts pretty impressive.

Person I most wish would get a shot at a multiyear FF run: Karl Kesel.

Kesel would definitely be great. And he’s the only guy I know that has had two separate fill-in stints. And yet never a regular gig! I guess it’s really a timing thing.

Lee and Kirby, but I have to strongly agree with the love for Waid, Simonson and Byrne. It would have been hard to choose the second place.

In the absence of Aguirre-Sacasa, I’ll have to go with Stan & Jack, although Byrne’s FF run was easily the best thing he ever did as a writer.

Kesel would definitely be great. And he’s the only guy I know that has had two separate fill-in stints. And yet never a regular gig! I guess it’s really a timing thing.

Kesel really, REALLY gets the Fantastic Four, and it’s shame he doesn’t get the role. I think he suffers because the current climate is one where you have to be one type of extreme or the other: the hot writer who is somewhat edgy and progressive and known for not falling into continuity or fannish trappings, like Bendis, Millar, JMS, Ennis, Morrison, Ellis, etc. Or the traditional, super-fanboy writer on the other extreme who isn’t progressive really but really throws down with the fanwankery: Johns, despite his violence, falls into this camp, along with Busiek, Waid and others. Kesel is in neither extreme so he often ends up in limbo sadly.

He really, really gets the Lee/Kirby dynamic without sounding over reverential and dated.

Good points regarding Waid’s run, T. To me the only thing that even comes close to touching Lee/Kirby is Simonson’s run.

It’s tragically underrated.

If only there was a way to anti-vote for Defalco’s run. Man, was that a terrible time for the FF.

My vote’s for Waid, who showed me what the FF should be after my impressions of them were warped by Defalco. A second place shout out for Simonson, who wrote probably the most interesting issue of Fantastic Four ever (The Mr. Fantastic/Dr. Doom fight through time issue.)

If Simonson did nothing else than that one time travel issue, with the cover being an integral part of the story AND a great cover, he would be one of my favs. But for me, it’s Waid. Everything you need to know about his run is in the 9 Cent issue. Great stuff, and Ringo’s art really made it sing!

i miss Ringo [and Mike Parobeck while were at it!].
DFTBA

kisskissbangbang

February 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm

He didn’t have a regular run, but Archie Goodwin filled in for Stan during his first vacation (FF 116-118; Roy did 119) and did 2 issues I remember well. 116 was the first comic to lure me back after giving up comics as “kid stuff”; I couldn’t help looking at an issue with a cover featuring Dr. Doom leading Sue, Ben & Johnny into battle.
And the back-up in 118, “What Mad World?”, with Lockjaw and Ben discovering an alternate world where things worked out rather differently on the FF’s maiden flight is easily the best FF short ever written (not that there’s much competition). Archie was probably one of the best writers comics ever saw, doing everything from Manhunter to the Unknown Soldier, but never seemed to be appreciated for his quiet competence and versatility, a problem Roger Stern also seems to suffer from. I know Archie can’t be on the main list, but I think he deserves a mention here.

Originally left Waid off, eh? That’s funny, because that’s the name my eyes bee-lined for immediately.

I’m tempted to vote for Englehart simply because everyone seems to hold his issues in such contempt. But I really think his Beyonder epic (#313-319, I think) was fantastic, and the ‘Harkness’ Frightfull Four story was pretty good, too. But I have to agree with everyone that Fasaud was awful, and the Kang-Mantis story was horribly rushed. And the simple fact is the She-Thing was a stupid idea.
So I’ll probably go with either Byrne or Stan. I still haven’t decided which yet.

Voting for Waid. Loved his run, though if Hickman stays on for another year or so, I’d have a much harder time justifying that. Simonson definitely deserves consideration, as does Lee/Kirby. Really, this question is a lot tougher than I initially considered… why can’t we vote for top five?

I went for Lee/Kirby. I’ve somewhat recently read the Essential volumes 2, 3 and 4, and they are AWESOME!

I love that 9 cent issue of FF by Waid. I haven’t gotten the rest of his run, but that issue alone was really interesting stuff. I like the concept of the FF as “imaginauts” rather than superheroes.

Karl Kesel sort of got to do FF with that great Amalgam issue of Challengers of the Fantastic. (and the Spider-Boy from the first Amalgam run had some FF riffs).

The FF are the only comic I care for, and I have to say Englehart. Meaning of course Englehart up to 321 – he himself disowns everything after that. This is why:

What set the FF apart from other excellent comics? Continuity: events had long term consequences. E.g. team members marry and have kids, Johnny grows up, villains matter in the long term, etc. Using the criteria of continuity, here’s my take:
Lee and Kirby: the best up to 1968, without question. We can argue about later years, but this poll would be boring if we all just said “lee-Kirby, d;uh”
Lee on his own – noticeable drop in quality
Roy Thomas – could be good, but too derivative; repeated too many old old stories. Also his treatment of Crystal was very problematic.
Jerry Conway – one of the best, but I think Englehart narrowly beats him.
Len Wein -reliable and enjoyable single stories (especially with Perez!), but does not stand out in terms of the longer term story.
Marv Wolfman – see Conway.
Bill Mantlo – what, nobody remembers Bill Mantlo? OK, he was only a fill in.
Doug Moench – see Conway.
John Byrne – excellent stand-alone run, no question, but problematic when judged as part of the longer run (see threads on comicboards for details).
Roger Stern – his 300 and 303 are underrated, but the run wasn’t long enough to draw firm conclusions.
Englehart until 321: long term continuity had stalled for years: Reed and Sue had wanted to move on since 1970; Ben had needed to resolve his self image problems since 1961 (and he needed a major power-up); Johnny and Crystal were always destined to be together; Englehart fixed everything and moved it forward in just twelve issues.
Englehart from 322: he was forced to reverse all the good stuff, and stared using a pseudonym in protest.
Simonson: some excellent single arcs, but continuity was openly rejected – everything returned to a re-run of the past.
DeFalco: a continuity free zone. Retcon the marriage, rerun previous plot points like a dead character and Malice; Franklin got old then young again; nothing was permanent.
Jim Lee and Brando Choi: the image style was kind of anti-continuity.
Carlos Pacheco: hard to remember what happened here. (Good art, terrible coloring.)
Mark Waid: some good stories, but anti-continuity. E.g. Johnny is de-aged
JMS and Duffie: a bit ‘meh’ to be honest
Mark Miller: I believe in being polite, so will refrain from commenting on his run.
Hickman: very promising, but the first arc still isn’t finished (after 17 months!!) so it’s too early to judge.

What’s funny, Chris, is right around when you posted about Englehart being the best FF writer, someone on ANOTHER blog entry posted about Englehart being the worst comics writer ever. Funny coincidence.

We’re both right :) Englehart in the seventies was the best, but he specialised in realism – real people, real dates, and real changes. In the eighties these things were effectively banned, but he still did his best with one arm tied behind his back. Given the restrictions I think he did amazing things with the FF. But his editors forced so many stupid chyanges that by 322 he basically gave up. After that his may have been the worst FF run ever, and he probably agreed – he wrote under a pseudonym then gave up in despair and never returned to comics.

Of course, I never read WCA :)

“And while Torch was a hothead and could be superficial, he was never the outright moron Waid depicted him as, he was practically Joey Tribiani from Friends.”

I’m guessing you didn’t stick with it, then? He actually manages to take the torch out of the “perpetual youthful early ’20′s” mode he’s been stuck in for 25 years, although I don’t think it wound up sticking.

The FF is a very hard title to write. Lee and Kirby were so definitive, and no one has found any way to deviate too much from what they did and still make it work.

To me, only Lee/Kirby, John Byrne, and Walt Simonson were truly great. It was difficult to choose between them, but ultimately I went with Byrne. Byrne and the FF, they remind me of that couple that is only truly good when they’re together. Byrne’s other solo works declined in quality fast. The FF’s other writers seldom got the team. But Byrne in the FF was gold. Science fictional stories, spectacular-yet-clear art, sympathetic view of Doom and Galactus, it has everything I came to associate with a good FF story.

Waid, Hickman, and Roy Thomas were quite good too, but with a few serious flaws.

The other writers range from mediocre (Conway, Wein, Claremont) to horrible (Englehart, deFalco, Moench). By the way, the FF has the power to get a good writer like Steve Englehart and Doug Moench and make them do incredibly horrible stories, showing us that even good writers sometimes just don’t get the characters, don’t get what makes the group tick. DeFalco combine the worst of traditionalism and grim-and-gritty shock value, Englehart wrote tedious travelogues starring unremarkable characters like Crystal and She-Thing, Moench got his FF stories out of horror B-Movie plots. Never in Marvel story a first-line comic series had so many horrible runs.

I voted Lee/Kirby. Not just the best run on FF, but arguably one of the best runs on any comic series. For me after that it’s Byrne, those issues were just magical. Have fond memories also of Wolfman, Thomas, & Conway(yeah I’m old… sue me). I’m in the minority on Simonson. I just don’t get the love for his run, and I’m a Simonson fan. His Thor issues are legendary in my mind, but I thought his FF issues were just Ok. Oh well different strokes…….

I chose Roy Thomas : I just love the rythm and invention f his second run (Galactus vs the High Evolutionary, the return of a disturbed Marvel Boy, the alternate Reed Richards, the comeback of the Impossible Man…)

As a die hard Avengers and Defenders fan, I only in the past few months began accumulating an FF run beyond the Lee/Kirby reprints I own.
I’d place Lee/Kirby as the best regular team. But here are some thoughts from an FF newbie on the arcs I’ve hunted down and read thus far:
Byrne – Good understanding of the mix of science fiction/superheroics/family needed for FF. Wrote and drew some epics, like Trial of Galactus/Reed Richards. Also wrote some fun exploration-type tales, such as the journey to various Negative Zone planets. Established important changes – Invisible Girl becomes Woman, Reed’s time traveling dad, She Hulk joining.
Englehart – Really tried to shake up the book and move in unexpected directions. She Thing gets a lot of hate it appears, but it’s brilliant. In comics the men are the monsters, the women always beautiful. Look at Hulk vs. She-Hulk. Englehart decided to make the attractive female hero ugly. As a reader I found myself turned off by the appearance of She-Thing, and that told me a lot about what Englehart was trying to accomplish. Also I liked his origin of The Beyonder.
Simonson – Own it but haven’t read it yet. Love his art and his big ideas, so looking forward to it.
DeFalco- Reading it now. I actually think it has a lot of comic book goodness.The “death of Reed” was a bold move, particularly ’cause he was kept out of the title for so long. Although “Nobody Gets Out Alive” was somewhat confusing, I love the idea that in one reality Reed was sent to find the Ultimate-Nullifier and his scientific curiosity slowed him down and he arrived too late to stop Galactus. I also really liked DeFalco’s use of the Watchers, along with Nathanial Richards, Kristoff and Scott Lang. I think as an Avengers fan I appreciate when a team truly has a roster shake-up. And while the Fantastic Four can’t go for too long with such drastic changes, I found having so many new characters around refreshing. Also Paul Ryan is an underappreciated artist. At a time when Image was hot, he was month after month producing well-drawn, detailed FF adventures.
Claremont – It was fun to see what a guy known mainly for writing mutants would do with a more traditional superhero team. I thought his run had a great, positive attitude about it. He had some duds but his storylines about Reed losing his intellect while embracing his emotions and about Reed being trapped in Doom’s armor were excellent and refreshing. I also liked Valeria, although clearly he never got around to finishing her story int he way he wanted.
Pacheco/Loeb – Excellent start with the introduction of Noah Baxter, the man who built the Baxter building, and with the adventure into the Negative Zone. I love that a bunch of Puritans time warped there, and think it’s hell and they’re the last line of defense between the devil (Annihulus) and our world. But the Abraxis story is a complete, confusing, plot-hole-filled mess. However I liked the final arc where Kesel joined Pacheco and Dr. Doom helps Sue give birth to Valeria. It’s just the perfect dramatic twist – the team’s greatest opponent is needed to save a member’s life and deliver her baby.
Waid – Fantastic Four could have ended after Waid. Think about it. He gave us the last battle with Dr. Doom, he gave us the last epic “a member dies” adventure when the FF actually go to heaven to bring the deceased Thing back, and he gave us the last Galactus story in which the god-like entity reverts to his humanoid form.
Hickman – Loving most of it so far. A lot of great, big ideas and efforts to expand the concepts Lee/Kirby developed in the Silver Age. Very cosmic stuff going on. And the scene a few issues ago where Doom kneels before Valeria and promises he’ll help Reed out is very memorable for some reason. That one panel alone sold me on Hickman’s writing abilities. I’m not planning on reading Millar’s run so I’m less interested in Hickman’s use of those concepts, like Nu-World. And I’m torn over the death in the latest issue because I like to think Hickman is breaking new ground and yet that seems like one of the most over-used writers’ tools. But I’m hopeful Hickman will do interesting things with it. And, as I said in the DeFalco comments, I like the occasional team shake-up, so there are a lot of great possibilities going forward.

I have to also add some love for the Claremont FF. I wish Marvel would collect his run somehow. Once he decided not to use some of his own “comfort zone” characters in the later issues I liked his run. The Reed in Doom armor stuff was a interesting spin on Lee/Kirby’s FF #10. He started to add some new cast members and also remembered some of the long missing ones like Wyatt Wingfoot and Sharon Ventura. I prefer Valeria von Doom over the changeling Valeria, personality wise. Both are good characters and we have yet to see what little Val is up to with “Uncle Doom”

Lee and Kirby. DUH.

I love that you included them both as a writing team, BTW, Brian. Way to go.

BTW, apart from the odd one-off or filler issue, is this list basically all the people who’ve written F.F.? I think one or two posters may’ve alluded to this already.
If so, that’s pretty stable for a near-50 yr old book. It helps that just 2 guys were responsible for the 1st 125-odd issues!

I’m guessing you didn’t stick with it, then? He actually manages to take the torch out of the “perpetual youthful early ’20?s” mode he’s been stuck in for 25 years, although I don’t think it wound up sticking.

Waid didn’t write him in the perpetual youthful early 20s mode he was stuck in for 25 years. He regressed him to an immature, borerline brain damaged stupidity that I’d never seen him written as even from his first Lee/Kirby experiences. In those first couple of issues I read of Waid, Storm was dumber and more immature than I’d ever read him.

Even if by the end of his run Waid doubled Storm’s maturity from the beginning of how he was depicted at the beginning of his run, he’d still have been way more immature and dumb than any Johnny Storm depiction I’d ever read.

And funnier and more interesting!

Do I want my comics to slavishly be devoted to lameness that has gone on for decades? Or do I want single issues to have maximum entertainment?

Waid’s Johnny Storm was funny and good. End of story for me.

Maybe I have a short attention span, but give me an entertaining comic and I can forgive trivial continuity blunders. So put me down as a fan of Waid and Bendis, even if that puts me in a minority.

I don’t really mind if a writer changes a character’s personality somewhat to fit his story, because in real life people do change, sometimes for reasons unexplainable.

Having said that, the real problem for me is that it’s like every writer that has ever worked on the FF has done a “Johnny finally matures” storyline. Poor guy is always regressing to teenage behaviour so that he can learn maturity lessons yet again. Same thing happens with Iceman over in the X-books.

Unlike T., I don’t hate Waid’s run. But I don’t think I agree with most of Waid’s characterizations. Johnny dumbed down, Reed as a very manipulative (but ultimately well-intentioned) man, Doctor Doom as a total scumbag…

The thing I love about Waid’s run is that he writes the FF as BIG. Big ideas, big science fiction ideas that feel epic and grandiose. It’s something I had last seen with John Byrne, and felt very lacking in Englehart, deFalco, Claremont, and most of the others that came after Byrne.

>he writes the FF as BIG. Big ideas, big science fiction ideas that feel epic and grandiose. It’s something I had last seen with John Byrne, and felt very lacking in Englehart

As a huge Englehart fan, I agree that this was his fatal mistake. When Reed and Sue retired they should NOT have found a little house in the country (see ‘Marvel Comics Presents’ 13; and ironically also the case in Byrne’s run). Reed would have created a Beehive/Project Pegasus/The Mount type giant research complex, probably underground, allowing Sue to build a perfect picket fence mansion on the surface, fit for Franklin, his friends, and her friend Carol. While occasionally continuing her movie star career. This would have made them big and interesting, and given excuses for big stories. But retiring them to a little house made people think we’d lost two favorite characters. It made them seem small, and led the editors and fans to panic and say “bring them back!” which destroyed any hope of long term character development.

I voted Jonathan Hickman. The only other choice for me would have been the obvious one, Lee/Kirby, and I’m sure enough people have voted for that. I’m not quite sure Hickman has surpassed them YET, but considering this is a feat that conventional wisdom generally considers impossible, he’s coming pretty darn close. And the truth is I have never, ever been this excited about the FF. His run started strong and it just keeps getting better. The character work is just so perfect, he’s actually saying something with his stories, and I love the sense of epic, yet-to-be-revealed vision that keeps me guessing from issue to issue.

In my opinion, we haven’t had an iconic superhero run like this one since Grant Morrison’s X-Men. (Well, maybe All-Star Superman too but that was so short!)

I voted Stan and Jack, but Waid is a very close second. Byrne hangs on for the bronze.

Not a fan of Hickman’s run and dropped it some time ago. I don’t get the love for Simonson’s run either.

Maybe it would have been a more interesting vote if you had made it “second after Lee/Kirby” like with that “Batman’s second greatest villain” vote (which, I guess comes after this one, but I saw first working back through the posts); I almost feel like voting for anyone else, it’s so unfair to include them…

I’ll also throw my lot in with the Simonson dissenters here. I’ve really never cared for his FF run at all.
I remember being really excited when he was announced to be taking over the title, as the memory of his Thor run was so fresh, but I found the comic itself to be just about the most disappointing high-profile run ever.

Also, I’m going to put in a good word for Conway’s run, as it was my first, and it did things, like having Reed and Sue have a major fight that splits them up for several issues, that people since then keep claiming to be the first to do.

(Seriously, I remember all these Marvel writers and editors, when talking about the Reed & Sue split during Civil War, claiming “Sue’s never told Reed to shove it and struck off on her own, before, but we’re the first ones to do it now!” while I’m thinking, “she totally already did! In the early frickin’ SEVENTIES!”)

The thing I love about Waid’s run is that he writes the FF as BIG. Big ideas, big science fiction ideas that feel epic and grandiose. It’s something I had last seen with John Byrne, and felt very lacking in Englehart, deFalco, Claremont, and most of the others that came after Byrne.

This I give Waid props on as well. I thought Pacheco was okay at doing big, but his run was ruined by having Loeb on dialogue.

Waid’s Johnny Storm was funny and good. End of story for me.

I admit, if Waid mischaracterized Johnny Storm but for the better, I’d have forgiven it. For example when Fabian Nicieza started New Warriors he totally changed Speedball’s personality without explanation, but the new personality was so good I didn’t care. Unlike you I didn’t find Waid’s Johnny funnier than what preceded it, or even good. I can think of several better “Johnny Storm finally matures” stories, as well as funnier Johnny Storm moments like Dan Slott’s Spider-Man/Human Torch stories. THAT was incredibly funny Human Torch characterization. Waid’s Torch stuff was cliche-ridden and unfunny to me. But to each his own.

I’ve read most of the FF run over the past 40 years. The only real contender for me is the original Lee/Kirby run, and I would have thought of Kirby as one of the writers that could’ve been in the list, since he plotted so many stories, but still… I’ve re-read almost the whole run in the past 10-15 years, and I remember I enjoyed Steve Englehart’s run and John Byrne’s efforts.

I haven’t read Mark Waid’s run, as I couldn’t stand Mike Wieringo’s art; I mean, I’ve followed some classic runs of various characters although I sometimes couldn’t stand the artist (I’m thinking of Ross Andru on Spider-man, and Frank Robbins on Cap in the ’70′s), but Wieringo, I was unable; too cartoonish, too kiddie-looking for my liking, although I respected Waid as a writer…

As for Simonson’s run, I did not enjoy; I thought it was too much time-travelling non-stop left and right, and it felt superficial… Kirby and Lee is the genuine article to me, and has never been topped. But this Hickman guy gives me quite a ride for my money, and I’m happy to have given myself a chance to stick with the FF title. It is worth a read, as is Brubaker’s Cap.

I voted Byrne since he’s the one I’m most familiar with, but Roy Thomas’ second run would be a very close second. I sacrilegiously havent read much of the Lee/Kirby -besides the first dozen or so issues and the first Galactus story- but plan on eventually correcting that with the Essentials. Beyond that I’ve read almost no FF at all.

Pharon F Fanboy

February 7, 2011 at 4:25 am

John Byrne, Mark Waid and Mark Miller for me.

I re-read the Byrne run last year, and it is still a blast! Love the Waid/Weiringo run and the Lee/Kirby runs too, but FF and Alpha Flight were Byrne at his best.

Is this supposed to be a trick question?

Lee and Kirby are easily the greatest writing combination the Fantastic Four have ever known. The creativity not only in plotting, but characterization through dialogue, has never quite been matched.

I defy anyone to point out any period in FF continuity that matches the period between issues 35-93. Beginning with Reed and Sue’s announced engagment, through the finale of Ben’s kidnapping by the Skrulls and his enslavement for the purposes of the Gladitorial games, we, the readers are introduced to more memorable characters, worlds and concepts than most series would produce in 50 years of publishing.

The second best, in my opinion was Simonson, with his excellent time travel stories and the imaginative visuals he provided.

At the bottom of the list should be Waid. His take on Dr. Doom is a complete and utter travesty. The greatest thing about marvel in general and Lee as a writer in particular is the notion that the villains they fought weren’t just evil people. There was always some humanizing aspect, even if it was rejection (Mole man), or bruised ego (Wizard), or the rescue of their mother’s immortal soul (Dr. Doom) that motivated them to do what they did. Waid destroyed all of that with his warped view of Doom as an evil, unprincipled being. So many classic depictions of Doom, including his origin in FF Annual #2 were trashed.

Byrne is not that much further up the food chain with his egotistical and self-indulgent takes and gags. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to how engaging the stories were at the time, but looking back on them with the benefit of time and mature reflection, the notion of “killing Ben Grimm’s body was just stupid, as was effectively killing one of the greatest running gags associated with the FF; the imagery of “Dear Old Aunt Petunia” urging on her favorite nephew, Benjamin J. Grimm, to become the “Idol O’ Millions”. The imagery associated with so many of the quotes that Ben attributed to her over the years was irrevocably blown up by Byrne self-indulgently deciding to go for the rim-shot, sight gag of making her a young woman. With that, he was more effective in killing off a piece of Ben’s personality than he was in killing off his human body

I’m more interested in seeing who gets second instead of the foregone conclusion for first. Bryne? Waid? Simonson? Hickman!?

Waid got my vote; definitely my favorite run on the book. Simonson is second.

As much as Byrne and Lee/Kirby shined, my favorite by far would have to be Walt Simonson. So much imagination in that series. I wish he had stayed three more years.

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