Graphic Novel Review: Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Fantastic Four

The Definitive Fantastic Four

The Definitive Fantastic Four - Credit: Archant

Mr Fantastic! The Human Torch! The Invisible Woman! The Thing! Marvel’s first and greatest superteam are celebrated in this bumper collection...

(Panini Books)

From their origins at the dawn of the Marvel Age of Comics, with a publishing history spanning six decades, the number of truly outstanding creators to have worked on the Fantastic Four read like a who’s who of talent: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, George Perez, Roy Thomas, John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, Mark Waid, Walt Simonson, Jonathan Hickman…

This long overdue Platinum volume brings together many of these names to offer a greatest hits collection of some of the team’s most entertaining escapades, with an obvious attempt to tie-in with the forthcoming movie while still staying true to the spirit of adventure and exploration which characterises Marvel’s First Family.

Starting off with the Fantastic Four’s Cold War-inspired origin, we then plunge into the first appearance of Doctor Doom for a time travel romp which sends the male FFers back in history to steal Blackbeard’s treasure! It sounds crazy, but that’s exactly the sort of out-there thinking which Stan Lee was renowned for, and did more than its fair share to shape the development of the super-powered clan as something different from the usual teams found on the comics racks.

More of Doom’s earliest appearances, including his infamous origin, are followed up by a classic Perez two-parter which introduces the back story of the team’s witchy nanny, the enigmatic Agatha Harkness, and one of many classics from the celebrated run of writer-artist John Byrne. Other contributions include the debut of the “new” FF, aka Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk and Ghost Rider, when the original line-up is presumed dead, before wrapping up with the dramatic 500th anniversary issue.

It’s a shame there’s nothing here from Hickman’s recent spell on the title, perhaps the most acclaimed since Byrne, but you can’t please everybody. If you’re looking for a single volume collecting a smorgasbord of all that has made the FF “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” then this book deserves its place on your shelves.