In Cinemautopsy, we look back at a recent, high-profile failure and ask a simple question: What the hell happened? In this installment... the comic that launched Marvel Comics. A cast of beloved up-and-comers. One of the hottest young directors in Hollywood. A bold attempt to reinvent the superhero genre. What could possibly go wrong?
On August 8, 1961, Fantastic Four #1 changed superhero comics forever, and yet it's barely a superhero comic at all.
Legend has it the book was inspired by the success of rival DC's Justice League of America. That book is a superhero comic through and through, and apparently its team of heroes inspired Marvel publisher Martin Goodman to ask his top creators, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, to create a superhero team of their own. But while DC gathered its Justice League from their other superhero titles, Marvel was publishing no superhero books at that time.
So Lee and Kirby created a team from scratch. But springing from the minds of Lee, who was by all accounts terribly burnt out on comics at the time, and Kirby, who had done everything in comics, but was then the master of monsters, Fantastic Four #1 was a weird, dark superhero book, about a weird, dark team
Over the weekend, I saw Ghostbusters. I loved it, but I’m not here to review it. Obviously one of the things that everyone has talked about is the female cast. There’s been a lot of backlash against it, and a lot of people defending the choice, and a plenty saying it shouldn’t matter. But honestly, I think it does matter, and I’m all in favor of it. In fact, I want to see more women-dominated reboots of previously male-dominated properties.
Here’s the thing: We need more movies with woman-led casts, and that makes a movie like this even more exciting, but there’s more to it than that. Changing up the cast automatically gives the movie a freshness it wouldn’t have had with men.
John Byrne is a controversial figure in comics, all the more so as he's moved to disavow his work with mainstream publishers, yet his legacy within the industry is undeniable, and his contributions to iconic franchise properties and to early creator-owned independent work are worthy of celebration.
Born on this day in 1950, John Byrne moved from England to Canada at the age of eight, and it was here that he first encountered American superhero comics. He enrolled in --- but dropped out of --- the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, and began contributing to Roger Stern and Bob Layton’s Contemporary Pictoral Literature. Their character Rog-2000 was spotted by Charlton Comics, and the team began contributing back-up stories in the pages of E-Man.
Things are messed up right now, so let’s talk about comfort comics. Comics as escapism. There are a lot of current and recent comics that could work for this — All-Star Superman, Lumberjanes, and Squirrel Girl come to mind — but I want to go back a little farther.
Because here’s the cool thing about comics: They all used to be for kids. Which means that a lot of the classic comics, the influential ones that made the medium what it is, are also escapist fun. So when you want to read something that’s going to let you forget your problems and get lost in fantasy, you can also read something that will help you become well versed in comics canon. This is literally how I became who I am today.
A lot of people were disappointed by last summer’s Fantastic Four. The reboot, directed by Josh Trank, was supposed to relaunch one of the most popular comic-book series in history, and erase the memory of two previous, unpopular Fantastic Four movies in the process. It had a great cast, including Miles Teller, Kate Mara, and Michael B. Jordan. It had Trank, coming off his acclaimed superhero film Chronicle. It should have been the start of something huge.
Last year’s Fantastic Four reboot was beset with problems before it even hit theaters, from the highly-publicized conflict between Josh Trank and the studio to rumors of the director’s behavior on-set and reports of an unusual amount of reshoots. When the actual film arrived, it was…disappointing, to say the least. And although producer Simon Kinberg has remained optimistic about a sequel somewhere down the line, even he’s finally admitting that Fantastic Four had some serious issues — as in, it was too serious.
As usual, James Gunn’s Facebook Q&A sessions yield some pretty interesting information, and while he tends to be a bit more open than others about his plans in the MCU, he doesn’t reveal anything too major. Still, Gunn’s latest Q&A confirms the two actors who won’t be returning for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, plus the two characters from Fantastic Four that he really wants to see join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Doctor Doom first appeared in Fantastic Four #5 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Sinnott and Stan Goldberg, published on April 10 1961. One of the most iconic villains in comic book history, Victor Von Doom has always remained steadfast in his goals: Take over the world for its own benefit, and kill Reed Richards along the way, if there's time.
Born on this day in 1962, Mark Waid is one of the most prolific and consistently relevant comic book writers of the last three decades. His storied career has taken him through pretty much every major publisher at one time or another, and as well as being a phenomenal writer and editor, Waid also has a reputation as one of the best collaborators in comics.