This comic special, released forty years after Reed Richards and Sue Storm tied the knot, provides a striking example of the changes in comics during the last four decades.
Title: Fantastic Four 40th Wedding Anniversary Special
“The Life Fantastic”
Writer: Karl Kesel
Artists: Drew Johnson, Karl Kesel, Geraci and Drew Hennessy, Merry Hollowell.
“Bedlam at the Baxter Building”
Writer: Stan Lee
Artists: Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta
“The Life Fantastic” After forty years of marriage, Reed Richards and Sue Storm bring several versions of themselves (including the current, still youngish ones) together in time for a reflective reunion.
“Bedlam at the Baxter Building” Dr. Doom agitates every supervillain in New York in the hopes of ruining Richards and Storm’s wedding. Every superhero in New York—- and the Watcher– help the fantastic couple make it to the altar.
This special illustrates many of the changes that have happened in the industry. Back in ’65, Marvel took a pivotal event (the marriage of two major characters), involved every single character in their universe (superheroes, villains, aliens, mutants, radioactive apes, Atlanteans, members of the Bullpen, and Patsy freakin’ Walker all appear. Even Millie the Model rates a mention)—- and then cram them into one issue. It has been hastily and inconsistently drawn. This isn’t Kirby’s best work, though he does present many good fannish moments. Stan Lee appears to have developed the plot after one too many gimlets.
Forty years later complex artwork, expensive production, and nearly twice as many pages as the original wedding to depict two metahumans reflecting banally on their life together.
The X-Men’s battle with the Molemen ranks among the silliest of many silly scenes.
Originality: 2/6. Old story: heroes and villains duke it out. Heroes win. New story: heroes emote.
Artwork: 4/6. This varies wildly. I’ve already said that “Bedlam…” isn’t Kirby’s best. The glossy stuff in “The Life Fantastic” also varies over the course of the story.
Emotional response: 3/6 If you haven’t read the original wedding story from Fantastic Four Annual #3, it’s worth seeing. The new story also reveals where the Richards spent their wedding night. Having Uatu promise not to watch their honeymoon got a laugh; I’m still uncertain how much the writers intended it.
Flow 3/6 Contemporary fragmented stories have better flow than older fragmented stories.
In total, Fantastic Four: 40th Wedding Anniversary Special 4 receive a score of 22/42.
Other depictions of Reed and Sue’s wedding may be found here