John Romita Jr. joins ‘Fantastic Four’ for a Giant-Sized 60th Anniversary Issue (plus, a brief look back at UK reprints)

Writer Dan Slott and artist John Romita Jr. lead an all-star lineup to kick off a brand-new First Family epic this August in Marvel Comics Fantastic Four #35, an issue marking the characters 60th anniversary, who have been published in the UK almost as long.

Fantastic Four #35 cover by Mark Brooks (2021)
Fantastic Four #35 cover by Mark Brooks

Home to concepts and characters that revolutionised comic book storytelling in the United States, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s beloved creations – Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), Invisible Woman (Susan Storm Richards), The Thing (Benjamin Grimm) and Human Torch (Johnny Storm) – have enjoyed one of the most memorable sagas in comic book history, and in an announcement, Marvel says this year will see some of greatest adventures yet.

Following the highly anticipated “Bride of Doom” storyline which begins in Fantastic Four #32, August’s#35 will be a special giant-sized spectacular that will see series writer Dan Slott teaming up with legendary artist John Romita Jr.

Recently returned to the House of Ideas, Romita Jr. is back to bringing his incredible artwork to Marvel’s biggest heroes, starting with this celebratory 60th anniversary issue for Marvel’s First Family.

FantasticFour #35 will launch a brand-new storyline that will see every iteration of the iconic villain Kang teaming up for a devious plot that will unravel across Fantastic Four history.

Fantastic Four #35 preview inks by John Romita Jr. and JP Mayer
Fantastic Four #35 preview inks by John Romita Jr. and JP Mayer

The entire Kang bloodline is out to destroy every era of the Fantastic Four! How can Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny hope to survive simultaneous attacks across their lifetimes by Rama Tut, the Scarlet Centurion, Kang the Conqueror and Kang’s final descendant, the sinister Scion?!

Still dealing with the repercussions of Doctor Doom’s climactic wedding, the groundbreaking changes to the Fantastic Four’s status quo are just beginning, say Marvel.

Mark Waid and Paul Renaud will also deliver dramatic new insights into the origin of the fabulous foursome in an all-new anniversary tale and a third story written and drawn by Jason Loo in his Marvel Comics debut.

“I’ve read, and been told by much smarter people, that ‘luck is the residue of design’ so I won’t even attempt to claim I designed the events of these last few months, but I will take this kind of luck any day any time,” Romita Jr. said. “I was lucky to begin my career with Marvel and now am extremely lucky to re-connect with Marvel. That’s an enormous amount of good fortune. I sincerely thank all the folks up at Marvel, and Disney, who worked for this fortunate re-connection to happen.”

Fantastic Four #35 preview inks by John Romita Jr. and JP Mayer
Fantastic Four #35 preview inks by John Romita Jr. and JP Mayer

“To add to all this, and I hate to add a third section to my good fortune, is the opportunity to start off with a huge project, which is the 60th anniversary of the Fantastic Four!” Romics continues. “It is an honour and extreme privilege to be asked to work on this along with a friend and former collaborator, Dan Slott! Along with ink artist JP Mayer,

“I am looking forward to this being up for viewing in August!”

Debuting in Marvel Comics #1 (Volume One), cover dated November 1961, Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Susan Storm, and her brother, Johnny Storm, were forever changed during an experimental space flight that exposed them to cosmic rays, which gave them super human powers and abilities. In the aftermath of their incredible journey, the four pledged to stay together as a team. They quickly became media sensations, and their celebrity status only grew as they explored the uncharted regions of the universe and confronted evil wherever they found it. But the Fantastic Four are more than just Super Heroes – they’re the first family of the Marvel Universe.

The Fantastic Four in UK – A Brief History

Creepy Worlds No. 32 saw the debut of the Fantastic Four in a UK publication, in 1962. With thanks to Lew Stringer
Creepy Worlds No. 32 saw the debut of the Fantastic Four in a UK publication, in 1962. With thanks to Lew Stringer

Enjoying a long and varied history in the United States, the Fantastic Four’s early adventures were quickly reprinted in the UK, initially by publisher Alan Class, beginning in Creepy Worlds #32, although as with his other reprints of Marvel superhero stories, Class’ selection of Marvel reprints rarely followed their original sequence.

The family made their debut in Oldhams weekly comic Wham! in late 1966, and survived the many mergers of Oldhams Power Comics titles through to Smash! incorporating Fantastic in 1969, along with Thor.

Some UK annuals featuring the Fantastic Four. With thanks to Lew Stringer
Some UK annuals featuring the Fantastic Four. With thanks to Lew Stringer

The Fantastic Four’s adventures also appeared in numerous hardback annuals, and story books, too, published by both Oldhams and World Distributors, the latter, making some bizarre colouring choices, noted by comics archivist and artist Lew Stringer, among others. (In one reprint the FF’s uniforms are red!).

Mighty World of Marvel #1, released in 1972 – with its iron-on transfer Free Gift

Int the 1970s, Marvel Comics set up a British office – initially, to deal with printing, advertising and distribution, all editorial handled in New York – and The Mighty World of Marvel No.1 debuted at the end of September 1972, and included the Fantastic Four in its initial weekly reprint of strips.

Fantastic Four Adventures #1, published in 2006
Fantastic Four Adventures #1, published in 2006 by PaniniFantastic Four Adventures #1, published in 2006 by Panini

Fantastic Four reprints have continued through to modern times here, published by Panini Comics in recent years, in titles such as Fantastic Four Adventures (2006 – 2012) and others.

Marvel UK and Panini Comics also originated many stories featuring the FF, battling Death’s Head in two of his incarnations, for example – but Marvel Comics owners Disney sadly called time on such outings some years back.

It’s great news that one of their UK-created cameo appearances is MysTECH Warsis to be included in the upcoming Knights of Pendragon Marvel Omnibus next year, marking 50 years since the debut of Mighty World of Marvel… let’s hope more are being considered for 2022…

• Be on the lookout for more exciting news about the Fantastic Four’s fabulous 60th anniversary celebration – visit Marvel’s Fantastic Four Hub Page

• Read more about the history of Fantastic Four in UK comics in Lew Stringer’s “Road to Marvel UK” features | Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Starlogged – The Fantastic Four at Marvel UK

Fantastic Four © 2021 MARVEL

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