June 25—After his phenomenal success with writer Chris Claremont on their “X-Men” series, artist John Byrne seemed to spend most of the 1990s revamping various long-running comic book titles and characters.
At DC, he started Superman from the ground up, keeping many of the traditional Man of Steel tropes while changing several aspects of Clark Kent and his alter ego. Byrne revamped Hulk, created the direction of She-Hulk that remained in place for decades.
And it had a run on the Fantastic Four that is considered to restore “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” to the glory days of its creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Marvel has packaged and reissued Byrne’s run in a series of collections titled “Fantastic Four Visionaries”. The first features Byrne’s full-throttle departure as the driving force behind the FF – he was the book‘s writer, penciler and inker.
In Byrne’s hands, the FF returned to a series of epic adventures but just as importantly, it rekindled the family spirit in the book. The second F in FF could easily represent family. Think, Fantastic Family rather than Fantastic Four.
He established these characteristics early in his run: He made Diablo an intriguing FF opponent. Byrne helped ring in the 20th anniversary of the FF – really, the 20th anniversary of the birth of Marvel Comics. He sent the FF on cosmic adventures. He wisely (mostly) avoided dealing with FF’s nemesis Dr. Doom for early issues. It brings the Inhumans back into the fold of FF and Marvel in new ways.
Reading “Fantastic Four Visionary 1” is not just a fun stroll down memory lane, but an exciting prelude to past and future issues to come in subsequent “Visionary” collections.