"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
COMIC LEGEND: John Byrne nearly returned to Marvel a few years ago to continue his Fantastic Four run.
STATUS: Basically True
A few years back, in 2009, Marvel came up with the novel idea of having Chris Claremont pick up where he left off on his original X-Men run.
Dubbed X-Men Forever, it gave Claremont the freedom to roughly follow the original plans he had for the title (I say roughly because there’s no way Claremont ever would have ever gotten most of this stuff through Marvel editorial even if he HAD stayed on the title, as some of the changes he made were far too sweeping for Marvel to let ANY writer do, so I think “original plans” here means more “what Claremont would have done if X-Men was completely untied to any larger continuity”)…
It lasted for two volumes and forty-three issues in total (24 issues of the first volume, 16 of the second and three one-shots).
Its success led to Marvel trying the approach with other creators, from
New Mutants Forever (Claremont again continuing where he left off on his New Mutants run)…
X-Factor Forever (Louise Simonson continuing where she left off on her X-Factor run)…
and more recently, an adaptation of the concept with Iron Man #258.1, where Bob Layton and David Michelinie continued where they left off on their second Iron Man run…
However, one title that never got off the ground that nearly happened was a continuation of John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run!
Back in 2009, Marvel approached Byrne about the project. Byrne famously had refused to work for Marvel ever since they canceled his X-Men: The Hidden Years series back in 2001.
I believe Byrne was irritated less over the book’s cancelation itself and more over how the cancelation was presented to the press at the time (with the “official” reason behind the cancellation changing a few times). He essentially felt disrespected.
Anyhow, the idea of being able to pick up where he left off and have complete freedom on the project obviously appealed to Byrne and he even worked out a logo for the project, dubbing it 4ever…
And even did a splash page for the first issue!
Byrne then realized that he couldn’t get over his feelings towards Marvel so he squelched the project, but not before coming up with two years’ worth of new plots for the book (NOTE: He actually drew the splash page AFTER he decided to drop the project. He drew that to sort of get it out of his system).
Some of Byrne’s ideas involved picking the book up with the Fantastic Four still trapped in Central City and the Thing returning from the Beyonder’s planet. The Thing would fight the Super-Skrull and in the battle, the Thing is killed as well as Alica Masters and Franklin Richards. The Fantastic Four go back in time and manage to save Ben but they arrive after the battle had begun, so Alicia and Franklin still die (basically they only were allowed one shot at fixing things. Now that they were there, they couldn’t return to the moment again).
It’s a shame. It sounds like it would have been a cool book.
Thanks to John Byrne and the great Tumblr JohnByrneDraws for the information and the art! Check out his site here for even more information about what Byrne would have done on the book!
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did a short-lived Matthew Perry sitcom correctly predict the year of Moammar Gadhafi’s death?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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