John Byrne’s The Fantastic Four Artist’s Edition

IDW is pleased to offer more than six issues worth of Fantastic Four stories by John Byrne in the Eisner Award-winning Artist’s Edition format. Included in this volume are issue 232 (the first one with Byrne on as writer & artist), issue 238 (the first story), plus issues 241, 243, 247 and 261 as well as the classic What If #36 story,”What if the Fantastic Four had not gained their powers?” There is also an art gallery included that showcases more than a dozen covers.

Nearly all of the pages in this book have been scanned from the actual original art that was drawn by John Byrne. This Artist’s Edition measures 12 x 17 inches and is 168 pages long. Each book is shipped in a custom cardboard box for maximum protection.

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As with all AE format material (Artist’s Editions, Artifact Editions, Gallery Editions, Art Editions, Studio Editions, etc), this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index. Also, see What is an Artist’s Edition and our Artist Index.

A mainstay of 1980s comic fans everywhere, John Byrne’s work on The Fantastic Four was an epic run that never failed to delight. Here we get seven full stories and a gallery of covers and even two splash pages. So much great material. Closing it out is a one page biography of Byrne.

Scans are excellent for the most part. Everything is clear except for the only double paged splash, which is quite blurry. The pages have aged well, with colour from tan to a medium yellow. All but four pages are scanned from the original art; the missing pages are enlargements of the comic pages with colour removed.

Blacks are deep and gradients visible; Byrne didn’t do a lot of heavy inking or shadow so it’s few and far between. As well since he was writing, pencilling and inking the only notes are one of two for the colourists.

Dahlk’s design is inspired, using a scientific look that fits right at home with this team and Reed’s labs. The chapter dividers are character profiles, and the indices page puts the information onto Reed’s overhead screens. Slick and superbly integrated with the material. Here’s Dahlk’s thoughts on the book:

I remember a friend telling me, that the thing he enjoyed most about the earlier issues of the Fantastic Four, was the science angle. Reed Richards, was a scientist and the stories and adventures revolved around space exploration, and unexplained phenomenon. When designing the book, that was the direction I went in. I created flow charts and graphics that would look right-at-home in a science textbook. I also tried as much as possible, to incorporate the number 4, either using the number literally or breaking things into quadrants.

Production is excellent. Sewn binding of thick matte paper stock; a little too tight for most pages to lay flat. The book came shrinkwrapped in a cardboard case with a small sticker showing cover art and UPC.