Speaking of which, this year’s Easter basket from my folks contained the 44 Years Of Fantastic Four DVD, so I have been enjoying the post-Kirby issues of the early ’70s. Stan Lee stayed on the book through #125, with occasional fill-ins written by Gerry Conway, Roy Thomas, and Archie Goodwin. John Romita and then John Buscema pencilled the book, with Joe Sinnott’s inks tying everything together (and tying it to Kirby as best he could).
I’m in the mid-130s now, the better part of a year into Roy Thomas’ tenure as solo FF writer, and I can tell only subtle differences between Roy and Stan. Roy uses second-person omniscient narration where Stan’s was more personalized, and both look back to the existing FF subplots for ideas. Johnny’s been mooning over Crystal’s return to the Hidden Land, the Baxter Building’s landlord is on the rampage, and Roy’s first arc sends Ben back to the Mole Man’s lair to find a cure for Alicia’s blindness. Meanwhile, Reed and Sue are absentee parents now that Agatha Harkness is babysitting Franklin full-time, and it leads to Sue walking out on him — but Reed’s committed to the Fantastic Four, and lucky for him Medusa’s just shown up to take Sue’s place. Everyone fights the Frightful Four before heading back to the Hidden Land, and Johnny, Crystal, and Quicksilver.
Boy, the more things change, huh?
The scans aren’t pristine either, but that’s actually kind of charming. They reflect the quality of a comic I’d buy out of a back-issue bin. They’re not all mint-condition, but they’re good enough to read, and that’s all I really ask. My monitor’s big enough that I don’t get eyestrain (at least not too noticeably) and the layouts are conservative enough that I don’t feel cheated for not seeing the whole page at once. I still prefer the actual issues, but this is a great alternative.
Anyway, at this rate I should be through the ’70s by Memorial Day if not sooner, and then I might skip forward to the “Heroes Return” issues to see how they hold up.
(Man, all this Claremont! Can a Sovereign Seven retrospective be far behind?)