FANTASTIC FOUR No. 1 PANEL BY PANEL – A CONCISE REVIEW…

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Fantastic Four No. 1 Panel By Panel is essentially ‘take two’ of Maximum Fantastic Four, first published back in 2005.  The new 2021 version is intended to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Cosmic Quartet’s first appearance and contains a ‘reprint’ of their debut issue, scanned from an actual published comic from 1961, as are the close up panels which precede it.

It doesn’t work, and I have to be frank and say that I was disappointed with the book when I pored over it earlier today.  Why?  Because the publishers have used an extremely grubby and dilapidated copy of FF #1 and the paper discolouration is far too evident, as is every blemish and imperfection on each page.  Unlike the Maximum edition, which used clean and recoloured proofs for the panels (it didn’t contain the issue in its original form), Panel By Panel uses them as they originally appeared (though enlarged) and Ben-Day dots just don’t lend themselves to being increased to several times their normal size.

It all might have worked had a cleaner, brighter copy of FF #1 been utilised, but I suppose they had to go with whatever was available, which was a ragged, dirty copy.  The essays are interesting, but I’d suggest only buying this book if you won’t miss the money it costs to purchase it.

Conclusion?  Interesting, though far from an essential ‘must have’.

Footnote: Also, the book doesn’t quite live up to its name, as I’ve just noticed at least one panel is completely missing (I’ll check for others later), and many of them are cropped, resulting in only partial images, not complete ones.  My disappointment continues to grow.

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