Fantastic Four:

by Mark Waid, Mike
Wieringo, Mark Buckingham
(Marvel Comics, 2003)

Well, the public has spoken on the Fantastic Four movie; they liked it a lot. This gives me actual cause to review a superhero title, which I try not to do too much due to my desire to help defeat the notion that comics are exclusively about super-powered adventurers. However, the F.F. movie is yet another cinematic success story that illustrates an undeniable truth: done well, and taken in controlled doses, superhero-type fiction can be fun for all ages. The same truth holds for Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four trade paperback, Imaginauts.

Mark Waid is a long-time comic book writer with a lot of imagination (no pun intended). With many erstwhile entertainment accomplishments under his belt, Imaginauts is another giant notch. Waid accomplishes a fresh take on the team, and actually manages to tell stories that haven't been told before. In fact (gush alert), a seeming wellspring of innovation, he tells the story of Reed Richards (leader of the F.F.) and his "mathematical equivalent," which is unlike anything I've ever seen in ANY entertainment venue. So, to be clear, we're talking about something that is derivative of nothing you've seen in television or movies. Incentive enough for you?

Well, if not, consider the substantial contribution of artists Mike Wieringo and Mark Buckingham, who manage to give the characters a quality of life that is highly expressive and amazingly dynamic. The aforementioned freshness of the characters even extends visually, when rendered upon the canvas of Waid's original stories.

So, what does this mean to the person who has seldom or never read an F.F. comic book but loved the movie? It means you can start with Imaginauts and never have to look back over 40 years of continuity. What a relief, huh? Fantastic Four: Imaginauts is recommended for all readers who love action, adventure and no-strings fun!

by Mark Allen
3 December 2005

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