We've got a handful of days between now and the end of the year, so this felt like a good time to stop and reflect on what has been a crazy year for The Fantasticast. Over the next few days, we'll be looking back at 2015. The comics, the episodes, the guest-hosts, the ripping-off-of other podcasts!
It seems like such a long time ago, but at the start of 2015, we were still covering Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's classic run on The Fantastic Four. We started January with Fantastic Four #98 - Mystery On The Moon. Produced to celebrate the 1969 moon landing, this issue wilfully ignores established continuity, and earned Marvel a letter from NASA pointing out that they were perfectly capable of landing on the moon without any fancy-schmancy superheroes lending a hand, thank you very much. Did I say NASA? I must have meant J. Jonah Jameson...
The last few issue of Stan and Jack's collaboration on the Fantastic Four were not their best work together, and Fantastic Four #99 - The Torch Goes Wild is a particularly strong example of how out-of-sync the two creators were. We also took a brief peek at Silver Surfer #17, and had some fun answering the 1970 Marvel Readers' Survey. Most likely because we really didn't want to talk about this comic...
We our first major milestone with Fantastic Four #100 - The Long Journey Home. This was the first big Marvel anniversary celebration. I think it's fair to say that they learned a few lessons from this one, such as 'how not to do an anniversary celebration comic'. We learned, after the recording, that this comic had originally been planed to be an annual-sized issue, which accounts for some of the problems with this one. But not all...
Late January saw the release of the first full-length Fantastic Four trailer, and we sat down to give our thoughts on it for a Midweek Minisode. It's worth remembering that there was a point when one of us still hoped that this film wouldn't be terrible...
Finally, we finished January with a late resurgence of quality, when we covered Fantastic Four #101 - Bedlam In The Baxter Building. This issue featured The Maggia, the organised crime syndicate who definitely aren't the Mafia, and a real sense of danger and fun, which is more than can be said for the Inhumans feature in Amazing Adventures #1, which we also covered.
February saw us welcome our first guest-host as Micheal Leyland of Heykids Comics joined us to bid farewell to Jack Kirby. Together, we covered Fantastic Four #102 - The Strength Of The Sub-Mariner, the first of a three-part story that would require some significant help to finish off. We also took a look at the Inhumans feature in Amazing Adventures #2.
Things took a brief diversion, as we took an episode to review the achievements of one of the greatest runs of comics - Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four. As well as our own thoughts and critiques, we also solicited feedback from our listeners for a bumper episode. And, to wrap things up, we also took a look at the 2008 one-shot Fantastic Four - The Lost Adventure, which recreated a rejected Fantastic Four comic from Jack Kirby's incomplete artwork.
Fantastic Four #103 - At War With Atlantis saw the first appearance of short-term Fantastic Four penciler John Romita Sr. Picking up another artist's plot and running with it is not a great situation, but Romita managed to bring focus, pace, and Richard M. Nixon to the story. We also took a brief look at Sub-Mariner #30 and Fantastic Four Annual #8, for those keeping track of Namor's solo title, or reprints.
Stan Lee and John Romita concluded the first continuing FF story in over a year with Fantastic Four #104 - Our World -- Enslaved! Handily, Roy Thomas mirrored this invasion of New York with one of his own in Avengers #82, which afforded us the opportunity to compare Lee and Thomas's approaches to similar plots. We also had a look at Sub-Mariner #31.
March kicked off with our coverage of Fantastic Four #105 - The Monster In The Streets, the first post-Kirby issue and the first signs that the book would be able to continue without one of the major creative forces that brought the title into being. Despite the editorial shenanigans that suddenly removed Crystal from the book, this was a surprisingly strong issue, considering that it came at a time of great change.
The post Lee/Kirby era continued with Fantastic Four #106 - The Monster's Secret. I recall rather enjoying this issue at the time, but details of what happened or why I enjoyed it escape me eight months later. The show-notes suggest that Andy and I had a disagreement during the recording, but again, I forget about what. I suspect Andy hasn't, though - he tells me he's tattooed my transgression on his arm so that he will always be reminded of it. Unless he's wearing a jumper.
Fantastic Four #107 - And Now - The Thing! marked the debut of regular Fantastic Four penciller John Buscema. Unfortunately, it was also the first of four issues to feature the villain Janus, one of the more underwhelming adversaries of the Fantastic Four that we would encounter this year. Come for the artwork, stay for the spelling mistakes and the consequences of said spelling mistakes.
We'll be back tomorrow to take a look at what happened to the show in April, May and June!