Something For The Weekend: ‘Fantastic Four Grand Design’ Vol. 1 By Tom Scioli And Marvel

by Olly MacNamee

Having throughly enjoyed Ed Piskor’s condensed and concise retelling of the convoluted history of the X-Men in previous outings for Marvel’s new-ish Grand Design publishing program, I couldn’t resist picking up the most recent addition to this burgeoning library, Fantastic Four Grand Design Vol.1 by writer/artist Tom Scioli. And, while you would think that a team made up of just four members wouldn’t necessarily be as busy as a potted history of the X-Men, you’d be greatly mistaken. Especially as any Marvel fan is more than aware of the importance of Marvel’s first family in introducing so many internal cornerstones and characters into the 616 over the years.
To summarise this lavishly rich history of the Fantastic Four, Scioli packs a lot in and with an oversized collection of the two issue Marvel put out, this at least allows his art, and the vast number of panels on each page, not to be submerged under the dense narrative.

For those who now of Scioli’s previous work will know his style homages that of Jack Kirby’s own, and in this collected edition he does a great job of emulating the early stylings of Kirby on the Fantastic Four. It will certainly appeal to many fans as a result.
As an added bonus, this graphic novel also includes a reprinting of the classic Fantastic Four #51, as well as a collection of variant covers and a handy index of all the comic books referenced for this labor of love. Well worth noting, too, is the marvellous job done of designing this book. Like the X-Men Grand Design collections, the cover for Fantastic Four Grand Design Vol.1 make great use of both matt and gloss finish. You have to see this book in its physical form to recognise the clever way that a clear gloss varnish at the bottom of the cover and standing in between The Human Torch and The Thing, represent the Invisible Woman. Somethng that simply cannot be emulated in the illustration accompanying this review. And, another good reason to buy physical over digital. That, and you can’t get your digital comics signed when visiting cons.

As you’d expect, it’s all here, or at least a portion of it is, as this collection only covers the first 48 or so issues and other Marvel Comics that fed into the FF’s history. What we get then is the FF’s origin, the building of a family – with Reed and Sue’s wedding – and some great foreshadowing for events yet to come with the inclusion of Galactus, Silver Surfer, Black Panther, The Inhumans and more. Like I said, the FF have been responsible for a great deal of Marvel’s history.

The only downside to this energetic, rollercoaster of a read is the coloring by Scioli aimed at emulate the aged look of real Silver Age comics. It ends up being just a bit too dark for my liking and dulls some of the pages as a result. Something I hope Scioli does rectify in future issues of Fantastic Four Grand Design. But, a minor quibble given the astounding task he’s willing taken on.
With plenty more history yet to come. Hmm, I would whether he’ll be emulating John Byrne’s style when he eventually gets round to cover that mammoth run from the 80s? I suppose, time will tell, but I doubt it. After all, his style works and why deviate from that and give the readers a more jarring reading experience.
Fantastic Four Grand Design Vol.1 is available now from Marvel Comics

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