August marks the return of the Fantastic Four (FF) comic. Love them or hate them you can’t deny that FF has been one of Marvels most successful titles through the years. And the decision to put the title on hold couldn’t have been an easy one.
Marvel had an ugly relationship with Fox and wanted the movie rights to FF back, as they clearly couldn’t make a movie that didn’t flop with the fans. It finally came to a head when marvel decided to stop the series until the time was right (likely the buyout of Fox was already being discussed) and a new creative team was found.
Last August, Jonathan Hickman was quoted saying, “I think it’s pretty common knowledge at this point that Marvel isn’t publishing Fantastic Four because of their disagreement with Fox.” From a corporate standpoint, I understand the motivation behind it but, as a fan, it really sucked!
That doesn’t matter anymore. They are back! Marvel just announced the return of its First Family and the comic world is shook!
We are joined today by comic guru and owner of four Las Vegas Maximum Comics locations, Jay Bosworth (MaximuM Jay). Jay has been a mainstay in the comic industry for as long as I can remember and is truly an ambassador to the industry. Jay has been featured on comic news sites across the globe and that continues today.
Mat: Welcome Jay. I’m so glad you could join us today. Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
Jay: I am a big fan of comics and the culture around them. I love them so much I decided to open a shop back in 2007 in Las Vegas so that I could talk about them all day long with like-minded folks. The industry continued to grow along with my love of the medium and today there are 4 MaximuM Comics locations in the Las Vegas valley, where I live with my husband and 4 dogs. Not quite the Fantastic Four, but not too far off.
Mat: Now down to business. When Marvel decide to scrap FF what were your thoughts?
Jay: To be honest, it sucked. As a longtime FF fan it seemed unfathomable to have a Marvel Universe without a Fantastic Four. Knowing it was a business decision designed to “stick it to Fox” made it even worse. For many fans, the characters being around matter. The FF was never Marvel’s best selling title, but knowing they were tooling around the MU somewhere just felt right.
Mat: Do you remember the first FF comic you read? What did it mean to you?
Jay: Oh yes I do: Fantastic Four #265 in 1984 was in the spinner rack of the ratty 7-11 down the street. I had been into comics for a couple of years by then, mostly Uncanny X-Men and the Legion of Superheroes. But when I saw the cover teasing a new member joining the team, I had to know who it would be! This issue introduced me to the sci-fi/family hero team vibe that is the Fantastic Four!
Mat: I actually got into FF by watching the animated series in the 90’s. I was a little late to the party but once I found them, I couldn’t get enough. Where would you recommend that a new reader start? Something vintage? Something new?
Jay: If the reader is down with “vintage”, I highly suggest the entire John Byrne run of the FF, issues 232-295 lasting from 1981-1986 wherein the writer/artist made tons of changes, bringing the team into the then-modern 80s in what is considered the book’s second golden age (the first being the Lee/Kirby classics of the 60s).
Mat: Comics have a way of touching someone personally and teaching life lessons. Is there anything that FF has taught you?
Jay: Family is such a prevalent theme in the Fantastic Four, you can’t help but come away from reading it appreciating family ties a bit more. Parents, children siblings, friends–all angles of home life are covered in this comic, and I can’t think of many team books with that specific dynamic. The characters, while being superheroes, can be very relateable; from a hot headed brother to a gruff but loving buddy, it’s easy to see people you know in this fictional family!
Mat: Ok, the last question was deep, here is an easy one. Who is your favorite FF member ever and why?
Jay: Reed Richards, easily! There is such an ingrained fear of intelligence in our culture, for generations, that Reed is easy to write off as the big brain, always scheming member of the team. In fact, writers often want to make Reed’s intelligence a weakness of sorts, making him come off as research-obsessive or emotionally detached. But he just wants to solve everything and make life better for all, so much so that he is guilty of trying too hard. His ability to literally stretch his brain to process more information faster makes him an absolutely formidable force for good! Go Team Science, go Team Reed!
Mat: Do you have a favorite issue or story arc?
Jay: Ok, sorta cheat answer here, but author Jonathan Hickman has written a singularly epic run on the series, and his take on the Fantastic Four is so grand in scope, he plotted out three-plus years of stories and connects it all. Binge his run when you can, and it reads like a single, massive, personal event.
Mat: Growing up as a kid, I remember playing superheroes with my friends. I remember painstakingly weighing the pros and cons of each super-power. More often than not it came down to Iron Man or Johnny Storm. If I had to pick today, I would pick Storm. In a troubled world like ours, he can help fix it or just leave earth. He could be a superhero anywhere. And he can fly. Tony Stark is nothing without his money. What member of FF would you be? What super power is your favorite? Why?
Jay: I find Sue’s powers would be the most useful in the everyday to me. Invisibility–god, that’s a dream power right there. For so many practical. Like when I’m having a bad hair day and see someone in Target!
Force fields, how awesome! If you are talking to someone and their breath stinks, invisible face guard. Instead of doing that dumb thing guys do trying to carry every bag in from the grocery store at once? Extra invisible hands! How useful! If it’s raining, invisible umbrella. If it’s hot, create invisible fan blades and voila–A/C!
Add to that Sue creates invisible force slides enabling her to slide around town, and she can create mini, lethal invisible force bubbles implanted in your brain–you can see why the Invisible Woman is the most powerful member of the FF!
Mat: Let’s talk movies for a moment. What do think about the past FF movies? Have a favorite?
Jay: Next question…
Mat: With Marvel buying out Fox, what do you think that will mean for the future of the FF cinematically?
Jay: I really do not believe a company like Disney would shell out billions to let a potential mega-money maker like the Fantastic Four sit dormant on a shelf. I think it’s time for a wise, experienced super family to emerge from wherever they have been exploring and become part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe properly.
Mat: Here is a fun one. Original FF only; who would you cast to play them?
Sue Storm: Charlize Theron
Johnny Storm: Armie Hammer
Reid Richards: Viggo Mortenson
Thing: Good, expensive CGI and voiced by Ray Liotta
Mat: Jay, you have dedicated so much of yourself to comics. Owning four stores, befriending some of the biggest names in the industry. What do comics mean to you? How have they effected your life?
Jay: Comics began as my own private escape. The secret in my backpack that i looked forward to reading in the treehouse. I never outgrew them, I never discovered girls or cars or anything that made me give up my fondness for comics like so many others do. There’s always a stack calling my name, waiting to be read. And some weeks the stack is much bigger than others. But it’s a comfort to know that I can always sit down, pull out a comic book, and feel that comforting effect they bring.
Mat: I heard you were even on the cover of a Marvel comic? Which one? How did that happen?
Jay: Marvel allows retailers to order special, exclusive variant covers of comics for their shops only, and I thought it would be cool to be on the cover (it was for Amazing Spider-Man vol 2 #1) so I pitched the idea to Marvel and they went for it. The talented artist Adi Granov was chosen for the art duties and I sent him photos of my face so we could recreate the classic Amazing Fantasy #15 cover of Spidey’s first appearance. He’s in Russia, so emailing back and forth discussing facial expressions through a language barrier was a fun and interesting experience, and we got an awesome cover out of it (yes, he buffed me waaaaay up in the drawing).
Mat: Ok, last question. No superhero team is complete without villains. Who is your favorite FF villain?
Jay: The man, the legend, the badass known as Doctor Doom is by far not only the Fantastic Four’s signature rival, but IMHO Victor von Doom is Marvel’s best villain. Ruler of a nation, master of dark alchemy as well as a scientific genius, Doom may be obsessed to the point of failure, but he has bested gods and kings and aliens and lived to monologue about it! All hope lies in Doom!
Mat: Your shops are all in Las Vegas. There must be a huge comic community out there. What do you do to keep them coming back to your stores? Do you have anything special planned for the release of the new FF?
Jay: Vegas has a major comic book community, one of the most well-served markets in the country! We specialize in clean, friendly shops with an All Are Welcome vibe that attracts long-time readers and newbies alike. Our staff loves comics and chatting about comics, and that makes a big difference.
August 8th is the release for FF #1 and we will be having a midnight release Tuesday into Wednesday for the hardcore fans that cannot wait to welcome the First Family of Marvel back. Leading up to it we have been sharing our staff memories of the Fantastic Four using #Fantastic4Faves and it’s been great seeing how this truly fantastic team has impacted comic fans over the years!
If you find yourself is Las Vegas Maximum Comics is the place to be. The stores are some of the most welcoming I’ve ever been to. The staff is welcoming and the comics, oh the comics! For more about Maximum Comics visit: www.MaximuMComics.com
For more on the Fantastic Four release, visit www.Marvel.com