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04 focused on The Four

In 1961 a rocketship carrying four friends was launched into the unknown of outer space and the Marvel Age of comics was launched along with it. Now beginning this December, the industry's #1 publisher will again place the First Family of comic books - the FANTASTIC FOUR - at its rightful place at the 'fourfront' of Marvel Comics' 2004 plans. Three ... (yes, THREE) major launches featuring three diverse interpretations of the "World's Greatest Comic Magazine" are in the works, again signifying the launch of a resurgent creative and commercial era at Marvel Comics.

The three-month event kicks off in December with the launch of ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR, by the all-star Ultimate creative team of Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar and Adam Kubert! More details regarding the debut of this fourth cornerstone of the Ultimate Universe foundation can be found in this month's MARVEL PREVIEWS (#2) and WIZARD (#145), and even more details and previews will be released as its December unveiling gets closer.

In January's FANTASTIC FOUR #509, Marvel welcomes "back" the fan-favorite regular creative team of writer Mark Waid and penciler Mike Wieringo (along with inker Karl Kesel), before they ever got a chance to leave! The special "THEY'RE BACK" issue kicks off a brand new story arc called "Hereafter".

According to Mark Waid, "The story is about the Fantastic Three ...whoops, did I say 'Three'? ... the Fantastic Three taking their greatest adventure yet by storming a realm new to them, one they've heard of but have never before seen.

"Yes, the Fantastic Three..."

"Fandom spoke and so did our own hearts, and we listened to both," said Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, regarding the creative team's less-than-popular exit a few month's ago. "Never let it be said that at Marvel we can't own up to our mistakes. I'm just thrilled that Mark and Mike decided to stay after all the craziness that went down. Fandom rejoice, it's salad days for the FF you know and love!"

"The way Joe's apologized in public for what he feels was, in retrospect, Marvel's rather odd decision certainly went a long way in getting us back," commented Waid. "Mike and I had discussed other projects elsewhere, but in the end, the pull of the FF and the fun we're having there was indisputable. We look forward now to trying to outdo our FIRST (but now, not our last) year. Next up: Diablo!

"...Just kidding."

Waid's return to the FF will also pay dividends for eager readers in another venue later in 2004. But fans will have to wait a while for more details regarding a just-approved project called ... (wait for it) ... "FOURIGIN"!

The reloading of the FANTASTIC FOUR franchise heading towards the major 20th Century Fox motion picture doesn't end there, however. Continuing the embarrassment of riches, in February a brand NEW FF ongoing series debuts, under the always-popular MARVEL KNIGHTS banner founded by Quesada before his ascension to Marvel E-i-C. This new series is created by the up-and-coming team of writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Steve McNiven.

Aguirre-Sacasa and McNiven's take on the FF - more grounded, earthbound and edgy in comparison to the Waid/'Ringo "Imaginauts" style - is in the spirit of projects before it like FF: 1 2 3 4, and makes it a perfect fit for the Marvel Knights banner.

"What I love about Roberto and Steve's upcoming FF MK title is that no one knows what to expect or what they're in for," said Quesada. "It's going to be fun watching these two incredibly talented young guys rise to superstardom. Mark my words, this title will be a hallmark event."

"As far as I'm concerned, this is the best time to be writing the world's greatest characters - with not one, but TWO new titles spotlighting Marvel's First Family: THE ULTIMATE FF and Steve and my Marvel Knights series," said Aguirre-Sacasa. "There's tons of great stories to tell about the Family Fantastic, and so far it's been an amazing experience to work with an artist like Steve (who draws the hottest Sue EVER) to showcase the more human, down-to-earth adventures of the FF."

"It used to be tough just to get one quality team on FF, today we have three," added Quesada. "There must be something in the air!"

And while now there IS certainly more FF to choose from, like Aguirre-Sacasa, all the creators involved are quick to point out none of them is seeing this as a competition.

"I'm a big fan of the current FANTASTIC FOUR book, I love Mark's writing and Mike's art, and it's truly an honor to be working on Reed, Ben, Johnny and Sue at the same time they are," said the writer. "Ditto the superstars creating THE ULTIMATE FF. Different visions guide the three books, but what I hope comes across in all of them is our love and respect for what Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created 40 years ago."

"I consider my former CrossGen colleague Mark Waid a good friend so I welcomed the news that Marvel was bringing him back to a book he writes so well," commented McNiven. "It seems to me like Mark & Mike were just getting warmed up creatively so this seems like a great thing for everyone as far as I'm concerned.

"I know first-hand how rewarding working on a well-written Fantastic Four book is, now being a few issues into the Marvel Knights FF with Roberto.
It's a real lucky break for me to have hooked up with such a talented young writer and on top of that, to get a chance to put our stamp on four of Marvels greatest heroes."

"Now the FF has the best of all possible worlds - a Marvel Universe book, a Marvel Knights book drawn by Steve McNiven (not only a friend but an amazing artist who deserves to be comics' next superstar), and an Ultimate book," concluded Waid. "And while each creative team may have a slightly different approach, there'll be no competitive sniping, no rivalry, because we ALL know what, at heart, the FF is all about - family, support, and teamwork."

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Catalogue updated on: 18/12/2018 at 14:12:32
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