Neal Adams was a legend.

Arguably he’s best known for his collaborations with Dennis O’Neil for Green Lantern/Green Arrow and on Batman & Detective Comics. Though he also had incredible runs on X-Men and Avengers, worked multiple stories with Deadman, and Superman vs. Muhammad Ali. All of which barely scratches his contribution to the medium.

I’ve always seen his style and impact on the industry as part of the sea change from the early days of the Silver Age into more modern comics storytelling. Which is not meant to take away from any of the early masters, or Adams’ contemporaries, but the detail and dynamism in his artwork felt like they inspired so much in the evolution of comics.

This says it’s bursting with some unknown energy.”

Fantastic Four – Antithesis from Mark Waid, Adams, Mark Farmer, Laura Martin, Andrew Crossley, and Joe Caramagna is a fun high-stakes cosmic adventure that feels a bit out of time. Partially because in terms of continuity, I think it fits in that slightly altered John Byrne era that came about during Waid’s previous run on the title with Mike Wieringo. But mainly because it feels like that larger-than-life sci-fi action that was the hallmark of the original Stan Lee & Jack Kirby run. And perfect for a last hurrah for Adams. As this turned out to be his final work for Marvel before his passing.

The artwork is gorgeous. Adams never missed a beat. The weight and presentation of the action throughout the series is truly incredible. There’s a sense of motion in his splash pages that are the sheer work of a master. There’s also a deceptive simplicity in the layouts of the pages here, given to larger panels and sometimes titled pages, that capture the grand scale of the story.

I think pairing him with Mark Farmer on inks was a good choice. Farmer’s long collaborations with Alan Davis brings a similar verve to the line work. A smoothness to the lines that works well for superheroes overall. The bombast is maintained through Laura Martin’s (with Andrew Crossley for the third chapter) colours. Bright and colourful. And there’s some interesting lettering from Joe Caramagna, giving a unique world balloon to Silver Surfer for some reason

Tradin’ one menace for another. Huzzah.”

While many of Adams’ latter day work had a kind of off-the-wall zaniness to them, particularly the Batman: Odyssey series, that was kind of reined in here. There are definitely some big ideas. Some giant stakes. And cosmic threats. With interesting twists and turns as the threats shift.

But it’s all given heart and purpose through the collaboration with Mark Waid. He always innately understood the family dynamic of the Fantastic Four and that shines through here. In amongst the action and high-level danger, there’s still the fundamental question of what lengths someone would go to for their family. Even if maybe the answer is the wrong one.

In the end, it makes Fantastic Four – Antithesis by Waid, Adams, Farmer, Martin, Crossley, and Caramagna a fitting capstone for Adams at Marvel. There’s a timeless quality to it that embraces everything that makes the Fantastic Four the Fantastic Four. Family-oriented science fiction that’s larger-than-life.

Fantastic Four - Antithesis

Classic Comic Compendium: Fantastic Four – Antithesis

Fantastic Four – Antithesis
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Neal Adams
Inker: Mark Farmer
Colourist: Laura Martin with Andrew Crossley
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 26 – November 25 2020 (original issues)

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!