Retro fix–Jack Kirby-inspired Alex Ross conjures psychedelic 1960s for Fantastic Four: Full Circle

Review by C.J. Bunce

Maybe, just maybe, modern readers may not think to go back and dig up early comic books introducing key superheroes that have spanned decades.  Maybe classic art styles don’t work for everyone.  For fans of the artwork of wunderkind artist Alex Ross, and for those who might not otherwise search out classic Fantastic Four stories, a new graphic novel may do just the trick.  Billed as the first graphic novel Ross has written and illustrated (not counting Kingdom Come, which he illustrated and co-wrote from his original story concept) it arrives in comic shops this week: Fantastic Four: Full Circle

Something about the imagery harkens back to Jack Kirby, but this is a new Alex Ross story, inspired by Kirby.

In Fantastic Four: Full Circle Ross re-introduces a storyline and a classic big bad guy from the past for a new generation of readers.  Another psychedelic entity from the past has the appearance of a mix of Freddie Mercury and Ziggy Stardust.  Ross utilizes different media, painted, pencil and ink, all fully colored.  It has the look and feel–and characterization– of Chris Evans’ Johnny Storm and Michael Chiklis’s Thing from the first Fantastic Four movie (another reboot is on its way but hasn’t been cast yet).  Reed Richards looks like John Wayne’s son, actor Patrick Wayne, and Sue looks like Kirby’s version– a bit like Angie Dickinson.

The story is surprisingly giant in scope, with a version of the Fantastic Four that would be a great inspiration for future films.  Best of all, Ross gets the humorous banter among the family just right.

Here is a preview, courtesy of the publisher:

The 64-page graphic novel is being published in a non-standard, over-sized 8.7×11.2-inch hardcover with jacket from Abrams ComicArts and Marvel as part of a new initiative called MarvelArts.

Fantastic Four: Full Circle also includes a fold-out cover sporting the Fantastic Four origin story.  It’s a gorgeous book, with all the style you’d expect from Alex Ross.  Pick up a copy this week at Elite Comics, or your local comic shop.  It’s also available here at Amazon.

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