As so happens when comic book fans of the over 40 crowd get together, we lament the good old days of the Silver Age. This conversation however leapfrogged over to the 80’s, and John Byrne’s fabulous run on the Fantastic Four.
Now, as everyone knows, Byrne made his name with the X-Men and in his incredibly prolific career has had a hand in every major (and minor) character in the Marvel and DC Universe, as well as create several of his own characters. The Next Men probably his most famous. And he is still publishing new titles continuously, Doomsday .1 being an absolute delight.
I remember when John took over the reigns of the Fantastic Four with #232. I was excited! John Byrne has a way of folding all the history of the characters he works on into an enjoyable tapestry. He weaves characters in and out of story lines in the same way Stan Lee would bring in guest stars to cross promote the early Marvel Universe.
It’s funny how looking back at these issues I am reminded that I was not quite sure if I liked him inking himself. I was, like everyone else, a big fan of the Byrne/Austin team on X-men, and John Byrne just wasn’t as slick on his own as when Terry Austin was his inker.
Looking at it now, I absolutely love it. I picked up the Artist’s Edition of Byrne’s Fantastic Four and it really shines! Who else tells a story like Byrne. Whether he is drawing the home of Uatu the Watcher or the apartments on the top floor of the Baxter Building, he is at home with his craft. I remember reading in, I think, the Art of John Byrne, or the Modern Masters Edition, that he always hated doing backgrounds until he decided to embrace them. He says that now it has become one of his favorite parts of storytelling.
Take a look at any book he does. The fashions, the furniture, the city scapes or intersteller scenes: they are all fantastic, and they are not photoshopped. And it goes without saying, no one draws more beautiful women or more heroic super heroes!
John Byrne isn’t the big name currently in the market place, but he is a force to be reckoned with! His run on the FF in particular deserves special notice. I am fond of calling FF# 45- 95 the best 50 issue run in comics, and I stand by that. Following a close second, again, in my opinion is Thor #126-186( I know , that’s 60 issues).
Byrne’s X-Men run was excellent but did not last 50 issues, however he did do more that 50 issues of the FF and take a look at them! Every major character in the FF history and the Marvel Universe shows up it seems. The trial of Reed Richards was a classic. Their journey through the negative zone…fantastic! Ego the Living Planet, oh yeah,.. and Dr .Doom. I could go on and on. Matter of fact I think I will. She Hulk! What a great addition to the FF, Frankie Ray, a New Herald for Galactus, Nova. You get the point!
Now when was the last time you checked out this great 50 plus run of the First Family of Marvel Comics? Probably been a while!
This whole run basically guides at 9.2 for about $8 each! What is up with that? One of these days this Byrne run is probably going to take off! I am mystified at the prices this run can be had for! If you enjoy great artistic storytelling, this run is an affordable masterpiece by a master of sequential storytelling.
That is my 2 cents worth for this week. I would love to hear your thoughts on this great run!
Continued Happy Collecting!
Now I have to find a copy of that Artists Edition of John Byrne. I have the John Byrne FF Omnibus and it is one of my favourite “big book” collection.
Ed , it is well worth it! Truly exemplifies the talented Mr.Byrne!
It’s still in stock at Diamond so your local comic shop can order it in for you.
Great post, Dennis. When I was a kid, the first comics that I read regularly was John Byrne’s Fantastic Four issues. I started reading during the 280’s, which included the X-Factor cross-over issue, and I stopped reading the F.F. shortly after Byrne left the title at issue #293. As an adult now, these are still my comic books from that period.
I was reading Fantastic Four at this time and loved it. I’m not sure why but one of my strongest memories in comics was skipping out from school at lunch and running over to the corner store off of Sanford Avenue in Hamilton and picking myself up a copy of that big double sized Fantastic Four #236. Great issue!
I have only Silver Age FF, but from what I’ve seen of the Byrne run I agree completely. Don’t like reprints. I’d have to have the originals. Our local comic shops have a selection between $3 and $5 each the last time I looked.
I have a bunch at the Lounge if you are interested.
Reprints don’t do it for me either Tom.There is again something very special about holding a vintage copy in nice shape that enhances the enjoyment for me .I have a complete run of the Byrne Fantastic Four , but just came upon an almost complete run of never read ,bagged and boarded John Byrne FF’s. Bone white pages and NM/Mint issues that I am just going to hang onto. And they were also in the $3 range. Certainly a bargain!
I too have always admired John Byrne’s work. He really perked up the FF who I thought were going through a bit of a stale patch prior to his arrival.
The true testament to John Byrne’s skill was when he made Namor and interesting read for a couple of years.
He also used some very interesting inking techneiques in Namor as well.He used some kind of zip a tone that was pretty interesting!
I remember those Namor issues too. They were really well done.
Romita draws the best women.
I am not going to argue about the beauty of John Romitas women.Or John Buscemas women either, or Gene Colan or….