Top Ten Fantastic Four Covers (Byrne Era)
Not long ago, I published an article featuring my own personal top ten list of Fantastic Four covers from the first hundred-or-so issues. Naturally, the Lee and Kirby run on Fantastic Four is one of the most highly celebrated collaborations in the history of comics. However, in my own tastes it’s about tied with John Byrne’s work on the same title. Perhaps it’s because they were some of the first books to which I was exposed as a child, perhaps it’s just because of their unchecked awesomeness, one way or another Byrne’s FF issues ought to be recognized. So away we go.
10) Issue 275
Remember back when it was commonplace for covers to have word balloons on them? That’s something of which you don’t see much these days, and it’s a shame. Lighthearted issues like this need covers that fit the tone of the content, but when it’s just a sight gag it sometimes seems a bit too broad. Also, I love when the post-Negative Zone costumes were colored as black and white. They were the costumes that I grew up with, even if I’ve since grown to prefer the originals.
9) Issue 292
Byrne’s early issues definitely had a sort of Twilight Zone feel to them, and while that eventually moved to a back burner burner so that the grand space operatic storylines could play out, this issue certainly brought it back home., maybe even veering a bit into original Star Trek territory. As you might guess from the cover, this issue features some time travel and the FF steps up in defense of the space-time continuum. Also, doesn’t Hitler look a lot like Bono ?
This cover showcases the strength of a character who, I think, is often underestimated. And it’s all because of a haircut. In the pages of Uncanny X-Men, we were introduced to the Shi’Ar Imperial Guard and their leader Guardian, who were actually just thinly-veiled ripoffs of the Legion of Superheroes. So, that makes Guardian a Superman-level hero. Which means he could soundly whoop the ass of just about anyone in the Marvel Universe and look totally punk rock while doing it. I love how Byrne showed him so gleefully and effortlessly handing over the asses of Marvel’s first family.
7) Issue 262
So many faces awaiting the verdict, and most of them (particularly the other members of the FF) look very worried. Not Gladiator, though… he’s just pissed off. This cover is loaded with wacky alien designs, many of which are throwbacks to races that’d previously shown up in the Marvel Universe. What’s more, I do believe Mr. Charlie Brown is down there at the bottom.
6) Issue 243
The little blurb there more or less encapsulates my feelings on this cover. I’ve been a fan of this one since I can remember, a collection of Marvel’s best and brightest going hog wild on Galactus while he looks annoyed at best. Byrne draws such an awesome Galactus, his proportions are so human and yet inexplicably alien.
5) Issue 236
The gang’s all here in this anniversary issue of the world’s greatest comic magazine! You know what really blows my mind? You don’t? Well, I’ll tell you… it’s the fact that this comic came out only twenty years after the first issue of Fantastic Four. And that more than thirty years have passed since its publication! Look at the characters on that cover, they’re pretty much the same bunch that would be on there if they did this cover today, only their number had about doubled since the mid-sixties. It’s been far longer now, with fewer memorable characters to show for it.
4) Issue 252
A sideways comic? This knocked my light-up LA Gear sneakers right off of my shoes when I first got my hands on it. Byrne draws the quintessential Fantastic Four here, if only Sue were displaying her powers this would be a 100% perfect display of who and what these characters are.
3) Issue #246
Is there even such a thing? The more Victor Von Doom, the more there is to love on a cover. Byrne’s rendition of Doom is tops in my book, and Doom is my most favoritest villains. And I’ve never noticed before writing this article that the machinery dividing the Thing and Human Torch segments of the cover spells out Doom, as if the five other instances on this cover weren’t enough.
2) Issue #258
More Doom on this one, and we get a closeup of his gauntlet. Also, a ghostly reflection of his mask and cowl! He must be pissed, too, because he’s tearing right through the cover of this issue and exposing the FIRST INTERIOR PAGE. That’s right, when the reader opened this issue, the first image matched the one showing through the rips Doom had created.
Most of all of his likenesses, I love the way that John Byrne drew the thing in his heyday. So damned enormous, so inhuman, and yet so endearing. And the lighting on this cover is fantastic as Ben digs his way through still-flaming wreckage to search for Johnny, a man whose at throat he often finds himself, but still perhaps his best friend at this stage in his life.
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