Saturday, February 9, 2013

Face-Off: The Color Schemes of the Fantastic Four

Doug:  Today we combine two of our features:  Face-Off and Dressed for Success.  Question -- Which color scheme do you prefer for Marvel's First Family?  The classic Silver/Bronze Age scheme as originated in the Jack Kirby days, or the revamp from John Byrne's tenure (later years at that - and he insists the uniform is black, not navy blue)?

Doug:  Personally, I like this guy!


Rip Jagger said...

Put me down for the traditional blue with dark trim invented by Jack Kirby.

The later Byrne variation was interesting, but didn't have the snap of the classic.

I too confess an affinity to the brief time the FF had somewhat individualized uniforms with Reed and Ben staying old school while Johnny went red and Medusa added a splash of purple.

But the FF need to be blue, light blue that is.

Rip Off

humanbelly said...

I think the earliest blue design may be my least favorite-- but it's only a marginal dislike. I thought it tended to look a bit frumpy (esp. on Sue) and utilitarian-- but to be fair, they're work clothes, so there's no reason really that they shouldn't. I don't remember when it happened, but by the time the Buscema and Buckler years rolled around, they'd been tweaked a bit, and became more form-fitting and I think the dark black trim had been reduced or eliminated.

But heck, I liked that look just fine, I liked Johnny in red, I liked how the original design looked when Byrne re-introduced it, and I liked his "negative zone reversal effect" design.

Hmm. You know what they've needed all these years? Bomber jackets. . . yes indeedy. (Ha!)

Uh, by the way. . . HATED Sue's cougar-mom, check-out-my-midriff look in the 90's. Just in case anyone wanted to know.


Edo Bosnar said...

I guess I'm a traditionalist as far as the FF are concerned: I like the original color scheme best, and really didn't like Johnny's red & yellow outfit. I'll admit, though, that I really liked Byrne's redesign when it was first introduced. It was a really striking look. However, I have to admit that the white boots in particular started to bother me - I kept thinking how dirty they would always get every time they stepped out of the Baxter Building...

Redartz said...

It's a narrow preference, but I'd pick the Byrne blue/black suits over the classic blues. Just personal; the higher contrast they provide adds a bit of spark to the team's look. As for the mid- 70's multi-color look: it was ok, but it seemed more 'suited' for the Avengers or Defenders. The FF have always been a very close-knit group. The common uniforms tend to emphasize that nicely.

david_b said...

I'm with Rip on styles.. I came into the FF with ish 138, so I'm pretty partial to that '70s style personally. The classic Silver Age look is obviously 'definitive' and my close '2nd favorite', but it quickly looked dated by the early 70s. I thought the combined update of Johnny's red suit and Medusa's rather risque look (for that era..) was a perfect blend of functionality and hip snazzy style. It really gave 'em some tasteful flair and helped them stand out, more on par with the Adams X-men 'new style' outfits and of course the Avengers.

The Byrne whites looked nice for the 80s FF covers, but like HB I seriously, SERIOUSLY detested Sue's midriff and bare legs look. Ugh.

While they didn't have the bomber jackets, I did like Medusa's winter uniform of ish 145-146.

Doc Savage said...

I like the navy blue & white okay, but it never made sense to me that they came back from the Negative Zone and
kept the new colors. They have no spare costumes?

I never likes the Human Torch in red. That's for
Jim Hammond.

Yes, it's navy blue no matter what John Byrne says. Just like Spidey is blue and red.

William said...

If you'd asked my this question a few years ago I'd have said the Byrne era black & white (or navy & white) look. Because you know... it's Byrne. But as Marvel rolled into the 90's that look got so bastardized that it lost some of it's charm for me. (See the Sue as cougar mom comments from previous posters for example).

These days I'm a bit more nostalgic and find that I am more fond of the original classic blue and black. I think I prefer the FF in more practical, less flashy outfits.

As for Johnny in the red and yellow-- I never cared for that look. One of the unique things about the FF, that separated them from other super teams like the Avengers and the JLA, was they all wore the same colors, and Johnny not matching the rest of the team just didn't seem right to me.

Anonymous said...

I like the 70's look with Johnny's red uniform the best, and that's probably because that's when I came in to comics. I had seen the cartoon before, so I knew that Johnny's uniform and Medusa's presence were different but I accepted them fairly quickly. Kids can do that, you know. They can also grasp the concept of parallel universes (take that, DC).

James Chatterton

Doug said...

I generally liked Johnny's red suit because it was an homage to Jim Hammond. Additionally, I thought the small touch of Medusa having the "4" logo on her belt somewhat unified the team's look in that era. We saw belts as identifying "team" in both the X-Men comics and the short-lived 1990's Avengers cartoon. It works for me, allowing team members to have a bit of individuality.

That being said, I do agree with our friends who've stated that one of the things they like about the FF is that the wear the same uniforms. I would never want to get rid of that -- it is a hallmark of the book.

And count me among the "slutty Sue" haters. Just a bad idea, but totally in sync with that era of comics publishing. It fit the times, which as we discussed a couple of days ago, were generally not good.


david_b said...

I will add this thought. Probably the only real plus for me regarding the '80s outfits was She-Hulk. I thought Jennifer looked swell in her FF outfit, which worked for her better than any other earlier iteration.

I liked her far better as a FF member than ever as an Avenger.

William Preston said...

I liked the red uniform era (and the addition of Medusa) because it represented the diversity of the "four" rather than the uniform(!)ity. Very cool; generated interest.

So in the second picture, why does She-Hulk have her hands on Johnny's shoulders? Holding him back? Sneaking him a massage? Comforting? Slowly forcing him through the floor?

Redartz said...

I fully agree with the sentiments about Sue's midriff outfit. One aspect of the team's shared uniform look is the democratic implication that the members are equals. Sue's 90's outfit was pretty flamboyant, where Sue generally has been portrayed as level-headed. It brings to mind the outfit she wore as Malice, when she was manipulated by Psycho-Man. In the story, once Sue's personality was restored, she was furious at the way she had been used and portrayed.

humanbelly said...

Sue's "sexy tough chick" look came about during the period when Reed had been for-sure, no-turning-back, we-mean-it-this-time killed, isn't that right? The Paul Ryan/Danny Bulandi run (and for the life of me I can't remember the writer)? Namor kind of joined up, as did Ant-Man and a cumbersome supporting cast. Knowing what we do now about how the company was being managed, I wouldn't be surprised at all if there had been a blanket command from above to "spice the book up, kid-- we need more sales, or yer history." That would kind of explain the arbitrary and unfocused nature of the long, long, uninspired story arcs at that time. . .


J.A. Morris said...

When Byrne changed the costumes, I thought it was cool. I appreciated artists & writers who shook things up a bit (but not too much), just like I was okay with She-Hulk joining for a while.

But when I think of the FF, I picture them wearing the classic blue & black uniforms.

As for Sue's 90s duds, they're terrible. I had been away from comics for a while, then one day went into a shop. I did a double-take when I saw Sue in the new costume on a cover. Dumb idea.

On an unrelated note, Sue's 80s hair in the picture above looks ridiculous today.

Anonymous said...

I kinda like the later (navy blue/white) look; the original uniform looked a little too much like pyjamas to me.

Mike W.

Doug said...

J.A. --

But not as dumb as Johnny's hair looked for much of Byrne's run!

Hey William -- maybe John Byrne isn't the best hair-designer, huh?



Doc Savage said...

Jeez, I remember when Johnny's hair changed to that weird half-bowl cut. I think he was supposed to be "maturing." A kid in my middle school had the same haircut. Didn't look good in real life either.

humanbelly said...

Ha! Surely many of us remember Johnny's first hairstyle update several years earlier, yes? When he went from the traditional meetcha-at-the-malt-shop faux-Elvis side part to the MUCH more contemporary longer & straighter guys' hair of the late 60's & early 70's? "Why Torchie. . . you look Be-YOOOOO-tiful!!!"

In fact, wasn't that also in the time of his red costume? An enjoyably real-life moment, I have to say. . .


david_b said...

Yep, HB, THAT scene was from my first FF ish 138...

Loved it.

Garett said...

I can see I'm in the minority here, but I think the FF have the most boring outfits in comics. I like Johnny's red outfit, as it adds a bit of variety. Why not have at least different colors for each of them, with the 4 logo unifying the group?

humanbelly said...

Oh, I dunno Garett-- I think the X-Men's original togs might take the prize in that contest. . . !


Garett said...

Could be, HB. You'd think with their mansions and high tech equipment, they could afford a few more colors!

Doug said...

For our regulars, you'll notice that there will be two posts tomorrow. The main one will still appear at 6:00 am CT here in the States. But I've set another post to publish right at midnight, mainly as a placeholder for our review links.

For those of you who've been with us for a long time, you're probably familiar with our sidebar. We've had a list of links to our various comic book reviews. The first one we started got to 283 and then went bad. So I started a secondary list, but as it grew it was bugging me that not all of the Avengers reviews were together, etc. The last straw was our reruns in January, because all 10 of those posts then required a new link.

So I am just going to store them in a single post, where I'm sure I won't have any trouble adding on new ones as we produce the material. I've also included the various books we've reviewed through the years. The link will appear just below our Blog Archive, which should prove helpful to anyone wanting to spelunk into all things BAB.

As I note in the post, if you happen to find a bad link, please let me know so I can correct it.

Thanks very much,


Anonymous said...

I'm all for the classic light blue uniforms with the darker blue gloves and boots. Some readers might not like it, but once you see those threads you know the FF is in town, baby!

You have to give props to John Byrne, though. I felt he did a good job of reinventing the title. Unlike most people, I didn't hate the new uniforms with the white gloves & boots. It actually gave the FF a newer, more modern look.

Compared to the original X-men's blue and yellow uniforms, the FF's blue utilitarian outfits really say 'superhero team' when you see them. Dunno why, but Xavier's team somehow looked bland in comparison. Maybe it was the masks.

As for Sue's belly baring outfit, all I have to say is that someone over at Marvel had been reading too many Victoria's Secret catalogues.

Johnny's red outfit was actually kinda cool. I do suspect it was in homage to Jim Hammond, the original Torch.

- Mike 'red/green colour blind' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Humanbelly said...

Maybe. . . maybe Xavier's was a Catholic school/academy? Hence the boring uniforms?


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