100 All-Time Greatest Comics… Improved: Part VI

It’s a new year, and one of my lesser resolutions was to bring this weird little extra series to a satisfying conclusion. With that in mind…

Runaways: Pride & Joy

R_P&J

I’m afraid I’m still stuck in my all too comfortable rut of “it’s good, not great”. Don’t get me wrong, Vaughan writes a likeable and well-rounded cast of heroes drawn together by circumstance, burdened with a duty to do the right thing whilst dealing with their own inner demons, and Alphona is an artist that’s been far too often neglected (he recently made a triumphant return to comics with titles such as Uncanny X-Force v2 and Ms Marvel v3).

I’ll state categorically that Runaways is one of the best comics of the last 20 years. However…

The Replacement… Fantastic Four

FF omni 1

… Sometimes, you just have to hail to The King, baby.

It’s hard to define just how much Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revolutionised American comic books with The Fantastic Four; many of the narrative devices we take for granted in comics today (the reluctant hero, friction between teammates, the hot-headed young superhero who sometimes messes up) were used by thse two wonderful men with such deftness and skill that nowadays it’s hard to conceive of a time when such things weren’t present in comics.

If Alphonsa is an artist whose body of work is sorely neglected, then Jack Kirby’s legacy is one that can never quite be overstated. After languishing doing scratch work for romance titles for Prize Comics (Young Love, Young Romance, Young Brides) and back-up strips like Green Arrow (this was back in the days when Ollie and Speedy pootled around in the Arrow-Car fired countless boxing-glove arrows at near-identical mobsters), he was finally allowed to cut loose (FF #5 is an excellent example of Kirby having fun with his work). Everyone who is even a little interested in comics needs to read Fantastic Four at some point.

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