Artist: Mike McKone
Publisher: Marvel Comics (2000)
Includes: Fantastic Four Big Town #1-4
Note to Reader: I edited the article down. To see the unedited version click the title link.
The story behind the much-anticipated mini-series and its creative controversy.WOW, I had no idea all this went on behind the scenes. Drama! I just liked the artwork and never got to read it. If Marvel ever released this as TPB they should include the original script as a bonus.
By James Busbee November 08, 2000
This is a tale of two Big Towns. Fantastic Four: Big Town, the much-talked about four-issue mini-series, tells the story of a world where the advanced technology of Marvel's superheroes has filtered down to the street-level everyday society. But in recent days, the series' behind-the-scenes story has eclipsed the four-color version. Big Town has become yet another freelancer-versus-editorial throw down, and in the minds of many fans marks the first major test of new Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada's authority, leadership and creator loyalties.
The problems began early last week, when Big Town creator Steve Englehart says he received a cryptic message from Marvel informing him that editors had made changes to the first issue of the series, altering pages and, in some cases, according to Englehart, characters' entire motivations. Englehart decided to take his concerns public, excoriating editors for making changes and distancing himself from the finished product. 'In the end, the first issue of the series that I've said such great things about over the past several months was just gone,' said Englehart in a public statement. 'And I just heard about it, weeks after the fact.'
To longtime followers of Marvel's editorial policies, the changes came as no surprise...in recent years, the most infamous being Captain America #14, in which writer Mark Waid removed his name from the finished product in protest to uninvited changes. But Englehart's very public posting drew the attention and ire of Quesada, who stepped into the fray with his own take on the entire situation.
'I called back the book after reading a black-and-white review copy, which was given to me for my approval...because parts of it were simply unclear and confusing, not just to myself but to several other editors as well,' said Quesada in his first statement to the comics press. 'Maybe this was due to the fact that it was cut from six to four [issues, a decision made months ago]. Nevertheless, [certain story aspects were not] clear. Plus, when you're dealing with a story based on an alternate future, proper character and story setups need to be made so that the reader isn't totally confused.'
But what about the series itself? After all the political infighting, will anybody even care about the book that started all the fuss? They should. All sides agree that Big Town is a heck of a story, and a potential franchise, even without the office politics that have surrounded it.