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‘Fantastic Four: Full Circle’ OGN (review)

Written and Illustrated by Alex Ross
Published by Harry N. Abrams / Marvel Arts

 

A while back I reviewed the first collection of Marvel’s black light posters from the 1970s.

If you ever wondered—and I know some of you have—what an entire classic Marvel comic might look like if it were created in black light colors, Alex Ross has decided to show the world!

Fantastic Four: Full Circle is, I believe, Ross’s first full FF story in decades but not for lack of trying.

The fan-favorite artist famously proposed a reboot about five years back and some of the ideas and even art seem to have made it into this new self-contained story.

Ross, as many of you know, has a preference to “star” people as his heroes. I believe it was in Marvels where Russell Johnson—The Professor from Gilligan’s Island—made an appropriately studious-looking Reed Richards. Here, in Full Circle, Gary Conway—star of Land of the Giants—has the honors as a more heroic Mr. Fantastic. (That’s GARY, not GERRY Conway.) I don’t really recognize anyone else, though.

Not to give away too much of the plot but Ross’s story is a callback to perhaps the only two Lee/Kirby FF stories that never before had callbacks. And the whole thing is a Jack Kirby callback! Set almost entirely in the fabled Negative Zone, we’re treated to Kirby Kharacters and Kirby Krackle galore.

Back at the FF’s HQ, we see Kirby original art on the wall, Kirby-designed vehicles, and even revisit some classic Kirby collages!

All of this is tied up neatly in fluorescent Day-Glo colors with old school comic book style color dots, too—subtler than a Lichtenstein painting but visible in all their nostalgic glory, nonetheless! Alex even throws in some funny Ben and Johnny bickering dialogue a la Stan Lee.

Make no mistake, though! Even with nostalgia clearly a key component of Full Circle, this is NOT your father’s FF.

Sue is—as she always has been, really—the most powerful member of the group and everyone knows it! There’s a sex reference, and some philosophical ruminations a little heavier than what Marvel Pop-Art Productions would have had back in the day.

I’ve heard that the effect Alex Ross was going for was sort of what if Jack and Stan had kept doing the FF all these years! What might a 2022 issue have been like? It’s good! That’s what!

As with all things Alex Ross, though, in the end, even if the story was terrible, you can sit and stare at his artwork for hours. Psychedelic, mind-bending vistas and endlessly creative usage of color and imagery, all done while obviously keeping Jack in mind (and maybe with a touch of 1960s Steranko as well!).

While it would have been cool to have had a complete FF reboot by the artist, since that did NOT happen a few years back, Fantastic Four: Full Circle is now very much an event! And it’s the absolute most enjoyable event I’ve seen from Marvel (in conjunction with Abrams ComicArts) in ages!

 

Booksteve recommends!

 

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