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Maximum Fantastic Four Hardcover – November 16, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: Fantastic Four
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics; First Edition edition (November 16, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078511792X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785117926
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 8.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In August 1961, the first issue of a new comic book serial created by the team of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee hit the newsstands—and changed the superhero genre forever. The Fantastic Four—Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), Sue Storm (the Invisible Girl), Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) and Ben Grimm (the Thing)—were born, and soon after, so was Marvel Comics as we know it today. This groundbreaking super team also had a profound effect on an 11-year-old Walter Mosley, stoking his young imagination with the intoxicating power of Kirby and Lee's visual storytelling. "I learned that entertainment, education, and art could all coexist in one form," writes Mosley in his introduction. Mosley's notion was to enlarge every one of Kirby's panels in FF#1, giving each panel an entire page and transforming a 32-page pulp comic into a 224-page hardcover art book. The result offers something like Roy Lichtenstein's early comic panel paintings—one's attention is focused on the brilliant composition and detail of Kirby's now-enlarged panels, even while Lee's narrative remains intact. This lavish book is both an impressive tribute to Kirby and Lee and a labor of love by Mosley, better known as a novelist than as a comics nerd. More important, the book is a thoughtful visual deconstruction of Kirby's dynamic visual syntax. Comics expert Mark Evanier contributes an essay on the early days of Marvel. Beautiful and contemplative, this book will be indispensable to fans of the modern superhero comic book. 'Nuff said! (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Stan Lee is a man who needs no introduction. Nevertheless: Having begun his career with wartime Timely Comics and staying the course throughout the Atlas era, Stan the Man made comic-book history with Fantastic Four #1, harbinger of a bold new perspective in story writing that endures to this day. With some of the industry's greatest artists, he introduced hero after hero in Incredible Hulk, Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men and more -- forming a shared universe for rival publishers to measure themselves against. After an almost literal lifetime of writing and editing, Lee entered new entertainment fields and earned Marvel one opportunity after another. He remains one of Marvel's best-known public representatives.

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M J Heilbron Jr. VINE VOICE on December 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Maximum Fantastic Four" is an interesting idea concocted by the famed author Walter Mosley (yes, the guy who writes the Easy Rawlins books).

It's a large format reprint volume of FF #1, with only a panel (at most two) a page. Sometimes the panel spreads across two pages, and in a few instances, a huge gatefold is necessary.

The reproductions are pristine, and the colors feel just right.

In doing so, Mr. Mosley has discovered what made comics magical when you were little. No matter how much you love comics now...it's not the same as when you were little. Didn't they seem BIGGER back then? Not in size, but in scope. Comics were definitely widescreen in a pan-and-scan world.
He noticed that in re-reading his beloved early FF issues, they didn't have the same majesty to them, the same bigness. So he scanned the first issue into his computer, which enabled him to ponder each frame at a time. It slowed him down. And the magic came back.
He is so right. I don't know about you, but now I read too fast, and I sort of read a page at a time. But I didn't use to.
In reprinting the book in this fashion, he forces us to read like a child again. Every panel was a scene in a movie. They were nearly three-dimensional. Panoramic.

Widescreen.

After reading through the book, as well as reading the essays and stuff from Mosley and Mark Evanier, it became so perfectly obvious, so painfully clear. He identified the precise difference between reading comics when you're young, and reading comics when you're old.

And you will spiral dizzyingly back to your childhood reading this book this way...I had a terrific time.

I think this book will work best for those who came of "comic age" during the Silver Age...60's to 70's.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Theresa K. Lotempio on July 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The first time I had the opportunity to read the first issue of the Fantastic Four was in the Pocket Books collection published in the late 1970s. Despite being shrunk to the size of paperback page, the comic still brimmed with excitement and energy and I still think fondly of that book. Reading the Maximum Fantastic Four was a very different experience. Reading is probably the wrong verb though because I didn't find Maximum Fantastic Four to be conducive to actually reading. Instead, the audience is expected to absorb the combination of image and text as if it were a static painting or advertising image.

As Walter Mosely indicates, the experience allows to you concentrate on the design - layout, color, penciling, and to a certain extent pacing - of the book. Some of the panels certainly gain added gravitas when they are separated from the story and allowed to stand on their own. Panels are given their own page or double page spreads.

Unfortunately, I found the overall experience disappointing. Some panels are cropped in such a way that text is cut from the image. I found it annoying to have pieces of the picture tantalizingly out of reach, even it was text. In addition, some panels are placed in such a way that the gutter runs through their middle. There is little gutter loss but the book didn't lie flat if you were near the beginning or end. A slight bump lifted one side and would disrupt the image. The problem would not have occurred if these panels were centered on a separate page and it is not clear why they weren't given separate pages to begin with.

Walter Mosely discusses how this project began when he enlarged panels scanned from his own copy of Fantastic Four. I certainly shared his enjoyment in select instances.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John B. Mason on September 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The one star I gave Maximum FF is if I had paid the full $49.99 price tag. Others have hinted at this book's major flaw, and it's one I just can't get around: the paneling. Yeah, enlarged is gorgeous, but for some reason they were incapable of fitting whole panels on one single page, and in other cases, a smaller panel is placed right in the center of two pages, surrounded by an ocean of white space. Why? It could have easily fit on one single page. On other panels dialogue is cut off, parts of the pictures are missing, and for no reason I can tell. The layout seems haphazard and lazy, which makes no sense compared with the ambition of this book.

Now, if you pay $9.99 (plus the $3.99 shipping) like I did, then this book easily gets four, maybe even five stars. It really is beautiful. The paper, the colors, the essays, and of course Jack Kirby's art. The dustjacket folds out into a GIANT reproduction of the cover of FF #1. Just plain cool. If they could find a way to blow up panels to fill one over-sized page at a time, I could see a new niche in comic collecting by reproducing some of comicdom's best in this format. This is a really cool idea, and I thank Walter Mosley for dreaming it and Marvel for approving it.

But PLEASE. Don't spend $50 on this, unless you have too much money lying around. I know MY wife would've killed me.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Obermiller on April 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is really an argument for the inclusion of comic art into the pantheon of great modern art, and I think it mostly succeeds in that attempt. The first issue of Fantastic Four was likely a rush job, and you can almost feel the acceleration in which Jack Kirby produced these drawings, so it's all the more startling to see the energy and creativity he pored into each panel when they are blown up to giant size in this volume. I love Mosley's idea of presenting those panels in even larger format in a museum exhibit, and am glad to see that the The Hunterdon Art Museum is hosting an exhibit of Kirby's work this spring. As other reviewers point out, the book is not perfect, but it's an excellent start in assessing and accessing comic-book art in new and exciting ways. I'd love to see a similar volume attempted for Steve Ditko's surrealistic Dr. Strange adventures, and the list goes on.
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