Fantastic Four Full Circle by Alex Ross and Josh Johnson

“Step carefully, my darlings.

Thank you for accepting my invitation. I knew you couldn’t resist. Now accept your fate, as all who touch Nega-Life become part of…us.

Lights out.”

Holy cow this was brilliant…

Years ago (longer than I care to admit) I was a freshman/sophomore in community college art class. Our task was to give a presentation on a painter we admired. I remembered asking my professor, specifically, if I could go a little off the books and do a comic artist. After showing a bit of the artist in questions work, she agreed.

It was Alex Ross, a certified master of the genre and a crossover attraction who would make any non-comic book fan go, “Yeahuh?!”

This book, Full Circle, is a retelling of a classic Fantastic Four story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. On a dark and stormy night, a mysterious visitor breaks into the Baxter Building, the home/headquarters of the F4. This leads to a dark and psychedelic trip into the Negative Zone, searching for the source of their invader, where the group will come face to face with dark secrets from their past.

Simple, not a mind-blowing story.

But a mind blowing comic.

I mean, look at this thing.

I worked in a comic shop for roughly 6 years (with a short break in the middle when I graduated and then started teaching) and I can tell you a book like this, in this format, would have normally been considered death on the shelves. Classic comics are 6 5/8in wide by 10 1/4 in high. They fit nicely alongside the hundreds of other comics on the display shelves in the thousands of comic stores carrying them. Anything that bucks this size trend typically doesn’t do well.

Except for this. Sales figures are hard to track down, but I had to wait for my local Barnes & Noble to get it back in stock.

And that’s the key: I bought mine at Barnes & Noble.

This is a comic book BOOK. This is something you could lend a friend, with next to zero context, and they could read it just fine. It’s psychedelic, trippy, and representative of the new frontier the 60s led in the world of serialized comics, but it’s not serialized. It stands alone.

Ross, and his colorist partner Josh Johnson, and letterer, Ariana Maher, have made a statement with this book. A statement that more books in the world of traditional superhero comics can be told in this format, in this method, and they can be more increasingly sold to not just the direct market.

Thanks for reading,

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