Marvel NOW! teaser by Joe Quesada

By Jim Beard

Now it can be told: The fabled Fantastic Four flies forward in two new Marvel NOW! titles by writer Matt Fraction this November. FANTASTIC FOUR and FF will feature all-new frantic flights of fancy courtesy of Fraction and two legendary artists: Mark Bagley and Mike Allred.

In FANTASTIC FOUR, the first family of super heroes launches a vacation into the far reaches of the universe to expand their children’s view of life, while in FF a hand-picked team of costumed characters holds the fort down back on Earth against a multitude of menaces.

Here’s what Matt and Mike had to say about taking on the characters who kick started the Marvel Universe proper. Matt, What are some of your earliest memories of the Fantastic Four characters?

Matt Fraction: I suppose what any other lifers’ memories are. I knew them from the cartoons. I knew the comics and I remember understanding the pedigree. They were first, aside from being the “First Family.” What impacted you most about them then and now? What is it that makes you want to tackle the concept?

Matt Fraction: The family unit of it all; adventure dad, adventure mom, that whole thing, when you’re a kid, is great. And The Thing. Greatest comics character of all time, or super greatest?  Now I’m struck that in 102 issues, Stan and Jack pretty much built a universe. That’s a tall order, creatively, an impossibly high bar.

I want to tackle that kind of challenge, to take on a book whose mandate, whose creative soul, means to invent wildly and with reckless abandon.

Fantastic Four (2012) #1 cover by Mark Bagley What kind of tone are you going for in the prime FANTASTIC FOUR book?

Matt Fraction: “The Incredibles.” That “The Incredibles” was kind of the perfect modern Fantastic Four story and wasn’t a Fantastic Four story is, like, a provocation of creative war, y’know? Again, talk about impossibly high bars, but there you go. Can there be a Fantastic Four that’s wildly new, wildly inventive, and that appeals to everybody that might encounter it, regardless of their age or how many comics they’ve read? Let’s find out. What will it mean to you to be working on FANTASTIC FOUR with an artist like Mark Bagley? What strengths of his will you play to in your writing?

Matt Fraction: He’s a legend! He’s classic. He’s a great choice for FANTASTIC FOUR. He can draw anything and, most importantly to a book like FANTASTIC FOUR, he can do action and acting, emotion and excitement. And he’s got Kirby’s own speed. How’s it feel to be working with Mike Allred on FF?

Matt Fraction: Everything good about comics I attribute to Mike Allred, who was the first pro I ever met at a convention that was above and beyond cool. I remember it and carry it with me every time that I do a show, how important it was to me. Aside from embarrassing Mike when I tell that story and probably making him feel old, to get a chance to actually collaborate with him now is nothing short of amazing. Mike, what about you? What did it feel like when you were offered the FF gig?

FF (2012) #1 cover by Mike Allred

Mike Allred: When I was approached with a project starring one of my all-time favorite, and vastly under-rated, characters, Ant-Man, I leapt out of my shoes. Literally. Those shoes are ruined now. Ant-Man has been there from the beginning. One of the very first Marvel heroes, folks; I think the first or second behind the Fantastic Four. Most people don’t know that.

Then add claiming the Baxter Building with my fave Marvel lady, Medusa, big and sexy She-Hulk, and one of the cleverest creations in recent memory, Miss Thing—now I’m almost out of my skin. Fortunately that’s just a figure of speech. I’m still tucked nicely away into my skin.

Seriously, I’m going nuts with excitement. I’m living the dream I dreamt when I was a kid, laying on the living room floor making comics with my big brother Lee. And what about working with Matt? What are you looking forward to there?

Mike Allred: I’ve been eager to work long-term with fellow Oregonian and pal, Matt Fraction. I get a big kick out of him. His writing as well as his performance skills. If you haven’t seen him belt out a tune you simply haven’t lived. His [comic] work always has a great balance of intelligence, humor, adventure, and charm that I predict will make this new tale an instant classic. And it’ll give us Oregonians more to talk about between singing songs Matt, how will FF both connect with FANTASTIC FOUR yet also stand on its own?

Fantastic Four by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Matt Fraction: I can say that both titles stand on their own after the initial storyline sets up the status quo for each, but each one relates and interrelates. Mike, what will be your main artistic inspirations as you proceed forward on FF?

Mike Allred: I’d like to think I’ve grown somewhat artistically since I last worked in Marvel’s playground. I’m eager to up my game. For inspiration sake I’m always surrounded by the work of “those who came before us.” And I can’t help but want to infuse a dose of Kirby Krackle into the proceedings. At least in spirit. Because, ultimately, I want to dig into what I can uniquely bring to the page. I want to make a deep and indelible mark that will require stitches.

For more on Marvel NOW!, visit the official hub page, and stay tuned to for all the latest news!

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