FANTASTIC FOUR 1234

Issue #1, Page 13: Macbeth with The Thing & Dr. Doom (Semi-splash Page)

Fantastic Four 1234
© 2001 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
FANTASTIC FOUR 1,2,3,4 (2001)
by Grant Morrison & Jae Lee
Issue #1, Page 13: Macbeth with The Thing & Doctor Doom
Graphite and ink on board
11" x 17"
Sold

Jae Lee was a fan favorite comic artist who never got to work with a truly great comic book writer –until a Fantastic Four mini-series bearing the Marvel Knights imprint put his dynamic pencils in the capable hands of the great Scottish Chaos Magician, Grant Morrison...

Grant Morrison is probably the best writer in comics. He writes multiple series in a variety of genres and has managed to finish those scripts on a fairly monthly basis for over two decades. His deconstruction of the comic book as a story-telling medium began with Animal Man, continued through Doom Patrol and has touched nearly every major character at the Big Two (Marvel & DC). After creating Marvel Boy for the Marvel Knights imprint, the brass offered him a shot at one of their tent-pole titles: The Fantastic Four. Morrison would be relieved of the monthly continuity problems and PG-13 maturity constraints and be free to tell an adult superhero story about perhaps the most dysfunctional family in all of comicdom. He pulled no punches. He addressed the Invisible Woman's sexual frustration, Ben Grimm's ironic impotence, and the spoiled self-interest of both Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch, albeit realized in drastically different ways.

Jae Lee's art has never been so daring. Reminiscent of classic Sienkiewicz at his least commercial, Lee uses widescreen action to tell an oddly introspective story and the blend works perfectly. A serene balance between Jae's own creation Hellshock and his Eisner Award winning Inhumans, the larger than life heroes are made even more human by the scale of their emotions. Doctor Doom seems more like Dr. Spock compared to the fury that lies just beneath the surfaces of the heroes themselves. Of course a small push from an evil mastermind like Victor Von Doom is like a giant leap off Freud's couch in the hands of Grant Morrison. Far more psychological than even his Arkham Asylum, Fantastic Four 1234 is criminally underrated in the cannon of his total output. Too often overshadowed by his fine work on New X Men, which saw publication a few months earlier, this frank and volatile presentation of the Fantastic Four forever changes the reader's perspective of the most respected superheroes on earth.

The page above is the catalyst for the entire series. The Thing, seeking Reed Richards' attention is himself distracted by a dismantled doombot, transmitting its creator's voice. Their conversation launches an adventure that returns Ben Grimm to his human form, shatters the Richards' marriage and extinguishes Johnny Storm. Add Namor to the mix and a tale of epic proportion is the perfect backdrop for The Heroes' Journey. Jae Lee tributes Rodan in a stylized homage, whereby a man made of stone channels the most famous statue of the modern era, The Thinker, while the whole scene whispers Macbeth.

 

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