The Fantastic Four
 

©Roman Schwachöfer

 

The Fantastic Four are a group of super heroes who have experienced some of the wildest adventures ever depicted in comic books, but perhaps the root of their appeal is the extent to which they embody the idea of a special family. Bound together by the strange powers that each acquired while manning an experimental rocket during a scientific mission they where hit by the strange cosmic rays "the Van Allen Radiation Belts, they are also joined bij legal and blood relationships. Reed Richards and Sue Storm were engaged when the serie began in 1961, Johnny Storm is Sue's younger brother. The odd man out is Ben Grimm, ostensibly just a friend of the family, but really the heart and soul of the team. Reed Richards developed a flexible, elastic body and became Mr. Fantastic, but remained a brilliant and aloof scientist, more at home with his work than with people. Sue Storm transformed into the Invisible Girl later Woman), maintained the air of middle class matron.

 

These two rather restrained characters were the symbolic parents of the group,  while the adolescent Johnny, an updated version of The Human Torch, functioned as their spoiled son. Ben Grimm, who turned into the hideous but powerful Thing, apperceived to be the family's gruff but lovable uncle, one who came from a distinctly less privileged background.

 

In the original synopsis that writer-editor Stan Lee gave artist Jack Kirby, Lee proposed making The Thing into "the heavy." Deformed, underprivileged and argumentative, Ben actually became the most lovable group member: honest, direct an free of pretension. He brought humor and pathos to the stories, while his emotional responses and frequent tantrums suggested that he might really be the baby of the household. The others sported spiffy uniforms, he wore a big blue diaper.

 
The Ting by Jack Kirby
 
 

The perfect balance of this original family unit, with its staid parents, privileged older son and squalling, uninhibited infant, has made The Fantastic Four a uniquely appealing team. Over the years, the balance of The Fantastic Four has shifted on several occasions. More than one member has walked out in a huff, and even been apparently replaced, but with the passage of time, the status quo has always reasserted itself. The ties of blood and loyalty are as strong for misfits as they are for mortals. 

 

 

 The FF get a new name, new costumes and a old Spider-Man

 

The writer had to be cagey in his recent interview with ComicsAlliance - where he confirmed that our own David Uzumeri's Johnny Storm analysis was right on the money - but Jonathan Hickman has revealed more of his plans for Marvel's first family with the news that Spider-Man will be joining what's now called The Future Foundation. Along with the wall-crawler come radically new costumes for Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman and the Thing that make it plain that the old idiom of the Fantastic Four died with the Human Torch, and that March's FF #1 is going to be be a startling change in the history of these beloved characters.

The Spider-Man news came in the form of several new images at Marvel.com, including brazenly different costume designs by Marvel mainstay Marko Djurdjevic, who channels Hickman's own idiosyncratic design style with a hexagonal motif and invokes memories of Tron: Legacy. As for the name change and why Spider-Man is on the team to begin with, Hickman, whose large-scale plots are tesseract-like in their design, had to play the wait-and-see card.
 

"When I took this job, I spent a lot of time reading old issues and really trying to figure out exactly what makes the FF tick: What works, what doesn't work, what used to work, but no longer does... and finally, what has the potential to work - in other words, what new things I can do to enhance the book's legacy and not diminish it.

This - the relaunch and the renaming - will make a lot more sense once we get to the other side, but for now, everyone should hopefully just check it, enjoy the ride, and know that my motives are pure."

With specific respect to Spider-Man, Hickman added, "I will say this, he's really a lot of fun to write. That Dan Slott certainly has a killer gig (as writer of Amazing Spider-Man).

 

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