With a new project on the horizon…

UPDATED 12/13/21: Abrams Comic Arts and Marvel on Monday announced Fantastic Four: Full Circle — the first graphic novel written and illustrated by Alex Ross, and the first collaboration between the publishers as part of a new MarvelArts line. The $24.99 hardcover is due Aug. 2, 2022. According to Abrams, “the book’s large format breaks from the standard graphic novel size to showcase Ross’s art, mirroring the format of the Marvel Graphic Novel, a line of books from the 1980s, and includes a full-color foldout poster featuring an all-new fully painted origin of the Fantastic Four.”

This may all sound familiar to you. That’s because Ross had a Fantastic Four pitch rejected years ago and we broke that story as part of our coverage of the book Marvelocity in October 2018. So we re-present that original story below.

But before we get to that, check out Full Circle’s official description:

“In Fantastic Four: Full Circle, Alex revisits a classic Stan Lee–Jack Kirby comic from the 1960s and introduces the storyline for a new generation of readers,” said his editor, Charles Kochman.

It’s a rainy night in Manhattan, and not a creature is stirring except for . . . Ben Grimm. When an intruder suddenly appears inside the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four—Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), the Invisible Woman (Susan Storm Richards), the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), and the Thing (Ben Grimm)—find themselves surrounded by a swarm of invading parasites. These carrion creatures composed of Negative Energy come to Earth using a human host as a delivery system. But for what purpose? And who is behind this untimely invasion?

The Fantastic Four have no choice but to journey into the Negative Zone, an alien universe composed entirely of anti-matter, risking not just their own lives but the fate of the cosmos!

“This is the Fantastic Four story I have been wanting to tell for years, and visually it is one of the greatest artistic experiments I have attempted,” Ross said in a statement. “I’m excited to share this work with everyone, as it unites the two great publishing forces of Marvel and Abrams ComicArts in a bold new collaboration.”

Now check out that original pitch…

— Dan

I don’t know if you’ve picked up Marvelocity yet, but I cannot recommend it highly enough. The coffee-table book, which celebrates the Marvel art of Alex Ross, is hands down the most spectacularly illustrated publication about comics I’ve seen this year.

Hardly a surprise, mind you. This is Alex Ross we’re talking about and the hardcover was produced with one of publishing’s top designers, Chip Kidd, along with first-rate photographer Geoff Spear.

The book, a companion to the beautiful, DC-focused Mythology that came out 15 years ago, is jammed with hundreds of Ross’ covers, prints, sketches and pages – even his designs for the opening credits of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 and a series of busts based on his photorealistic style of art.

A lot of it you’ve seen before, of course, but it’s all in the presentation, an intoxicating brew of colorful detail that makes you believe there’s a world somewhere in the multiverse that looks exactly how Ross envisions it.

Even more fascinating, naturally, is what you haven’t seen – such as a new Spider-Man story and, startlingly, Ross’ doomed pitch to reboot the Fantastic Four in 2017 while Marvel’s First Family was still on hiatus.

It just goes to show you that even the biggest talents in comics don’t always get what they want – and what Ross wanted was an eye-popping comic that echoed the DayGlo ’60s while offering something fresh.

Just check this out:

Ross spells out his vision across six pages in the book, including designs, sample pages and even treatments for potential logos.

He never explains why the project wasn’t greenlit but we can imagine what might have been:

Marvelocity: The Marvel Comics Art of Alex Ross, is a 312-page, oversized hardcover, published by Pantheon. It lists for $50 and is available at comics shops, bookstores and online retailers. Miss it not, True Believers.


— FANTASTIC FOUR ’67: A Brief Salute to Hanna-Barbera’s Groovy Cartoon. Click here.


Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. That would have been very cool

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  2. I’m guessing the extra stripes in the uniform “was” the ’60s but it is the only thing that I am not crazy about. But, please MARVEL take my $$$$. I’d buy this in a heartbeat. I wish more was done with individual artist’s takes on a character and say the heck with continuity.

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  3. Cool pitch. Anyone else think Reed Richards looks like Anson Mount?

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    • He obviously used 1960’s Land of the Giants actor Gary Conway as his model for Reed Richards.

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      • Thanks Don. I was trying to figure out who he used for Reed. Loved Land of the Giants as a kid.

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  4. Ross’s take on the Invisible Woman reminds me a lot of Jean Hale, who starred in the swinging-sixties spy spoof “In Like Flint” and appeared on Batman as Mad Hatter’s moll, Polly.

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  5. I’ve always liked how Alex Ross borrows images from certain eras as likenesses for his characters. I remember how he used the likeness of Russell Johnson’s character the professor from “Gilligan’s island” as Reed Richards in prior comic books. Now it looks like he’s using Gary Conway from “Land of the Giants” as Reed Richards.

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  6. Too bad. This would have been the first new Marvel series I’ve picked up in a decade.

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  7. I like the look and design of it, but there’s not anything about what STORIES he actually had in mind (maybe that was the weak link that torpedoed the pitch). One thing that I’ve noticed about comics that Ross has been the showrunner on rather than the sole artist of, is that the choice of interior artist never holds up to the promise of Ross’ art (just look at his Human Torch and the Avengers/Invaders mini-series), coming off roughly Dynamite quality as a result (and they were co-productions)…. and the stories are very, very mediocre.

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  8. Looks like Ross’ reference were the actors from LAND OF THE GIANTS, Gary Conway & Deanna Lund as Reed & Sue!

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    • Was thinking the same thing. 🙂

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  9. The powers that be at Marvel, is out of their God Damn minds if they don’t run Ross’ Fantastic Four reboot!

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    • Have to agree. Day-glo can become rather tiresome after a few pages.

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  10. I can’t believe Marvel would not go for this. It would have been awesome ! Love the day-glo look. This is way cooler than what they have now.

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  11. I’m thinking the main “problem” with this was, how many pages could Mr. Ross turn out in a month? Even if he just pencilled, or did layouts? Then of course you would need a suitable inker and (especially) colorist. And as mentioned a few times above, a writer.

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  12. Wonderful. I really hope the MCU will introduce the FF in the 1960s era. This is were they belong. And then use some time travel tricks to bring them all together.

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  13. Marvel’s stockholder overlords didn’t think they could make a quick enough buck off it.

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  14. A brilliant rendering of the Kirby style of portraying the FF. This would have been amazing.

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  15. Alex Ross: I would like to do Fantastic Four. It would look like this.

    Marvel: Eh, No thanks… we don’t really like money.

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  16. Right! What’s not to love about this? The retro 60’s design, including the logos are the coolest, and I love him using the Land of the Giants actors as models. Perfect fit. It reminds me of Alex Toth’s cartoon designs, but more elaborate. Wouldn’t this make a great animated production? That is if you could keep the quality of the art to this high degree.

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