Welcome to the five hundred and thirty-fifth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, in honor of the release of the new Fantastic Four film, it’s an all-FF edition of CBLR! Did Grant Morrison really propose a storyline involving the Invisible Woman being sexually attracted to the Human Torch? Did Chris Claremont and John Byrne really co-write an issue of Fantastic Four? How was the Phoenix’s return in the pages of Fantastic Four re-written AND re-drawn? And finally, did John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run once have a fill-in issue when no fill-in issue was needed?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Grant Morrison proposed a Fantastic Four storyline that involved the Invisible Woman being sexually attracted to her brother, the Human Torch.
STATUS: True Enough for a True
Reader George B. wrote in a while back to ask what exactly the deal was with Grant Morrison’s classic Fantastic Four mini-series (drawn by Jae Lee), Fantastic Four 1234, and the rumors about incest that surround the project. George had heard that Morrison had some ideas of incest for the plot of the series and he was curious if it was a case of the sort of thing we often see in Comic Book Legends Revealed, where a statement gets misconstrued and then that statement gets reactions and gets further misconstrued, Telephone-game style, until the story ABOUT the statement no longer resembles the actual original statement.
In the case of Morrison and Fantastic Four 1234, though, there actually WAS fire where this smoke came from. Well…sort of, at least.
Grant Morrison did, in fact, give the following interview well before Fantastic Four 1234 was announced in 2001…
Morrison: And then I’m going to do Fantastic Four. You’re the first person to hear this.
I’ve worked out this whole Freudian shit. The incest thing in The Fantastic Four. What you’ve got is a family. There’s Reed and Sue, the Mom and Dad. Johnny’s the big brother and Ben’s the little crazy baby. But in that situation you’ve got Johnny and Sue — brother and sister! So there’s an incest thing that the Fantastic Four hides.
I looked at it and said, okay, Sue actually wants to fuck Johnny and Johnny wants to fuck Sue. So how do you do that? They make Namor, the Sub-Mariner who is always a linked pair with Johnny. The Human Torch and the Sub Mariner have always been together since the ’40s. Namor is the dark, seedy, watery, wet, dirty side of it. And Johnny’s bright, mercurial. So he doesn’t fuck his sister — but Namor does.
iFUSE: Marvel Comics will let you write this?
Morrison: All I’m doing is using that as the basis, then I make a story out of it. The story suddenly has this incredible power because underneath it are these terrible incestuous tensions.
The published comic book dealt with the rocky interpersonal relationships of the group…
And yes, the attraction between Sue and Namor did play a role (Dr. Doom is altering reality in an attempt to take down the Fantastic Four and Namor is taking this opportunity to see if he can’t get with Sue)…
Morrison later spoke of the project with Jonathan Ellis once it was announced:
I’m trying to do something which sums up everything I love about the Fantastic Four and the Marvel Way. If you read this, you won’t have to read any other FF comics. It’s ended up as a kind of ARKHAM ASYLUM for the FF so I’m very pleased with it. Imagine Chris Ware’s Fantastic Four…
Ellis: Lots of fun, or a team of elemental heroes in downtown New York? Were you influenced by any specific run?
Morrison: I was most interested in the early stuff before the characters were quite formed. There’s a certain bleak, bad dream ambience in early stories like The Skrulls From `Outer Space’ and The Menace of the Miracle Man. Back before the days of It’s Clobbering Time!’ and the kind of gentle, catchphrase-heavy knockabout the retro-enthusiasts seem to love, the Fantastic Four were creepy and scary. A typical exchange between the Human Torch and the Thing might read…
TORCH: I’M LEAVIN’! I’M SICK OF LOOKIN’ AT YOUR UGLY FACE! YOU GIVE ME A SWIFT PAIN!
THING: GO ON…GET OUT…WHILE YOU STILL CAN!
…and a sense of emotional stress and weird violence hung over everything. I’ve been working with that atmosphere and trying to create the quintessential story of life with a family of super-freaks.
Ellis: Before all the nonsense and over-reactions about the Fantastic Four incest angle, you had many Marvel proposals planned, are those still in the air or do you find Marvel taking your suggestions with a grain of salt now?
Morrison: The whole ‘incest’ controversy generated the best publicity the FF have had for years so while Marvel may be a little bemused by my tactics, they seem confident enough in my ability to generate readers. I’ve just finished the first issue and I’m very pleased with the series weird, dismal tone.
Ellis: From the issue descriptions it looks to be an homage to the very early issues but with the ‘campiness’ of the era substituted with depth and emotion. What type of style/fan reaction will you be going for?
Morrison: There’s very little campiness in the early FF stories. The later adventures are filled with catchphrases and pratfalls but the early stories are like eerie, fucked-up fever dreams of gross disability.
The second Morrison said the word “incest,” that became all that anyone could think about the project, which is too bad. But at the same time, the guy DID say it, you know?
Yes, it is all subtext at MOST, but the legend is probably more true than false.
By the way, I just did a Top Five Greatest Invisible Woman Moments, and her scene with Doom in this series is definitely way up there…
Thanks to George for the suggestion!
Check out some entertainment and sports legends from this week at Legends Revealed:
Did Kanye West Re-Record His Vocals on “Through the Wire” AFTER His Jaw Injury Healed?
On the next page, how was the return of Jean Grey in the pages of Fantastic Four re-written AND re-drawn?
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