This is an interesting collection of Fantastic Four stories ranging over a number of years. It starts off with a recreation of what would have been the final FF story drawn by Jack Kirby, which was shelved because of plot problems. An earlier story with Kirby art was substituted for it at the last minute. But several issues later, some of the rejected art was used after all, with a framing sequence by John Buscema. This collection gives us all the versions, including the uninked and unlettered panels of Kirby’s original art that survive. Taken any way you want to look at it, “The Menace of the Mega-Men” and “The Monstrous Mystery of the Nega-Man” (the alternate titles for what is basically the same story) are pretty minor pieces of comic book history, but as always, Kirby’s art is interesting to look at.
The collection is rounded out by a much more recent story, “World’s End”, which is also billed as “The Last Fantastic Four Story” (I don’t know about that; isn’t the FF still being published?), “Homecoming”, a reprint from the 25th anniversary issue of the comic book that I must have read when it was new but have no memory of; and “If This Be . . . Anniversary!”, a humorous yarn from the 45th anniversary issue. All these stories were written by Stan Lee (although “Homecoming” was plotted by Marvel’s then-editor in chief Jim Shooter), and as always Stan’s familiarity with the characters and great touch with dialogue makes them fun to read.
Other than the first story in the collection, I don’t see how these are actually “Lost Adventures”, but I enjoyed the book anyway. If you’ve never read the Fantastic Four, this isn’t the place to start, but if you’re a long-time fan like me, I think you’ll find it entertaining, although nothing in here even remotely approaches the top rank of FF yarns.
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
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