Sometimes, old Marvel comic covers just throw everybody and their kitchen sinks at you:
There are so many characters on this cover: all of the Fantastic Four, Medusa (who at this point is a member of the FF), and a handful of other Inhumans. When I bought this comic, I had next to no idea who the Inhumans were. And to me, that was part of the comic and cover’s appeal.
Untangling who everyone in this book was, and their relationships with each other, was certainly a bit of work. But it was FUN work. Ten-year-old me (guessing here – this is another comic I acquired on a family trip, in an antique store in Nashville) enjoyed piecing together the intricacies of the FF and Inhumans’ backstories. For example, did you know Johnny Storm and Crystal used to be an item, but now she’s with Quicksilver? Or that Sue had left the FF, presumably because Reed was being an asshat? I didn’t either, but after plunging into this book, I lived for figuring out the FF’s drama.
Don’t get me wrong – some aspects of this story were nonsensical then and still are now. I looked up the story’s synopsis while writing this post, and I still couldn’t tell you who the villain of the piece, Xemu, is or what he wants (other than to invade Earth I guess). But I remember the important bits, which are the interactions between the characters. This is the issue of Fantastic Four that taught me Sue is the best member of the team. It’s the issue that showed me how stoic and cool Black Bolt is. From a “new reader” standpoint, Fantastic Four 159 likely did a ton of things “wrong.” But for a certain segment of comic reader, that stuff doesn’t matter. As long as it looks cool and the characters are interesting, all a good comic has to do is draw you in via a dynamic cover (look at the Thing charging toward you!) and then keep things moving.
(Want to check out more posts in the Cool Comic Covers series? If so, click here.)