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Friday, December 09, 2011 

Tom DeFalco won't admit doing a bad job on the FF in the 90s

USA Today wrote about the Fantastic Four's history, and Tom DeFalco, as one of the interviewees for the article, said something really bothersome:
Tom DeFalco jumped from Thor to take over writing chores for Fantastic Four in 1991, when he was also Marvel's editor in chief. Calling it "the greatest roller coaster in comics," DeFalco says he brought a sense of "crazy melodrama" to the series to jump-start lagging sales.

During his run, Alicia Masters, the blind wife of Johnny Storm and onetime love of the Thing, was revealed to be a shape-shifting alien Skrull, and Reed Richards appeared to be killed by his also-dying arch-enemy, Doctor Doom. (Both turned out to be very much alive.)

"We used to get this horrible hate mail," DeFalco says. "People would say, 'I hate this book! You don't understand the characters! They shouldn't be upset all the time!' And every month, sales rose."
First of all, yes, there have been cases of readers who kept reading these series despite the bad storytelling, which was ill-advised, since it only encouraged the writers to keep on with bad moves, and the editors to keep employing them on the assignment.

But did sales really rise during DeFalco's time as writer? As he indirectly admits, his run on the series at the time was not well regarded (I certainly didn't think the way he ejected Sharon Ventura from the recurring cast was called for), and while it's too long ago to locate clear charts, I wouldn't be surprised if long term, they didn't. It's practically what led to further problems when at least 4 of the series were cancelled for the sake of Heroes Reborn, which, with terrible artists like Liefeld in charge of 2, were just as poorly regarded.

In any case, if the readers were let down, they should have refrained from buying the FF and other series that were being ruined by Marvel at the time (and sadly, there were quite a few that were). Ultimately, some did, and that's why the 4 Marvel series saw some improvement when Heroes Return came about. But it was not to last, as we've come to see this past decade.

I think it's a shame if DeFalco won't clearly admit his work on Fantastic Four at the time was a disappointment, even if was nowhere near as bad as some of the really awful maneuvers Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas later made with much of Marvel's output.

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I thought Defalco's FF was good and so was the art by Ryan/Bulanadi. Lyja was introduced and was a decent character, and Nathaniel Richards was introduced (brought back?). Overall it was a decent run.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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