By Matt C
It took a little longer than planned (I originally intended to get though them all in 2009) but I've finally completed my self-set task of re-reading every issue of Fantastic Four written and drawn by John Byrne. As I stated in my original 'prelude' piece at the end of 2008, while I'd read all the issues previously, due to the lengthy process of putting the collection together long after the publication date I'd never actually read them all in order. That's something I've rectified now, and it's been an absolute blast to follow the FF's adventures on a weekly basis for the last year or so.
I still stand by my assertion that, if you take the Lee/Kirby run out of the equation, no one's handled the team (and the extended cast of characters - Doom in particular!) better. Although it suffered from a couple of dips in quality (although nothing anywhere near catastrophic), it's my opinion that Byrne's five year stint on the book produced some of the best FF issues of all time and, in a handful of instances, some of the best issues (of any comic) of all time! That's no mean feat, and bar the lack of an exultant finale (Byrne left at the beginning of a new story arc) this is arguably one of the finest unbroken runs in the modern age.
I'd like to think my reviews over the last 13 months may perhaps have inspired somebody to seek these stories out for the first time or, indeed, caused them to return and enjoy them again. But even if that's not the case, it's been a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me, and diving back into the world of Marvel in the '80s has inspired my choice for my next ongoing 're-reading' project. More on that soon....