A Fantastic Voyage: “In the beginning…”

In November 1961, the impeccable writing of Stan Lee and the powerful pencils of Jack Kirby united to bring the world “Fantastic Four,” a super-team made up of four ex-astronauts who developed stupendous powers after their space mission was interrupted by a cosmic radiation storm. And thus began the journey of our four heroes: the ductile Reed “Mister Fantastic” Richards, who can stretch his body to any length or form, Susan “Invisible Woman” Storm Richards, who can disappear and project indestructible force fields, Ben “the Thing” Grimm, a hard-talking, hyper-durable dynamo of strength with a heart of gold and Johnny “Human Torch” Storm, a hot-headed pyrokinetic playboy.

Despite their great popularity in the Silver Age of comics, though, the Fantastic Four have struggled to maintain widespread recognition. This is due, at least in my assessment, to a lack of quality mainstream media representation over the last half-century. From no less than three failed film franchises (including one that was buried by the studio that created it), to a painful ‘90s cartoon with a theme song that reeks of disco, it seems bizarre that the family that ushered Marvel into the Silver Age has been so misrepresented.

Be that as it may, the four will soon be getting another film reboot from Jon Watts, the director of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017). The film is believed to be produced by the newly-registered company “Solve Everything Productions.” Eagle-eyed Easter egg hunters and fellow Fantastic fans will note the reference to the legendary 20092012 run of “The Fantastic Four” and its sequel “FF” (or “Future Foundation”) by writer Jonathan Hickman.

Hickman is a maestro of Marvel, starting with the one-shot comic “Legion of Monsters: Satana” in 2007, and eventually securing a hit series with “Secret Warriors” in 2009. More recently, Hickman was the engineer behind Marvel’s critically lauded relaunch of the X-Men franchise, beginning with his sister mini-series “House of X” (2019) and “Powers of X” (2019). You can even take my word for it, seeing as I once referred to Hickman’s work on the 2015 mega-event “Secret Wars” as “an action-packed tribute to one of the greatest comic companies in history.”

With the possibility of a Hickman-inspired movie on the way, how could a comic aficionado like myself resist a deep dive into Hickman’s run to discover what makes it worthy of reference? I implore you, reader, to prepare yourself for a weekly waltz into the ambitious adventure, superior sci-fi and alienating alliteration of this retrospective of Jonathan Hickman’s “Fantastic Four.”