The cover of an old Fantastic Four cover from the 1960’s. Stan Lee referred to the 1960’s as the Marvel Age of Comics.
Fantastic Four Has Changed
By Richard Mabey Jr.
Back when I was 11 years old, in Mr. Yurgolese’s sixth grade class, I have to confess that Fantastic Four was not my single favorite comic book. You see, back then, I got a quarter a week for an allowance. So, each Saturday morning, when I walked down to Moe’s Sweet Shop, I had to make the choice whether to buy one Mad magazine for a quarter, a giant-sized comic book for a quarter or two 12-cent comic books.
Most of the time, I went with buying two 12-cent comic books. I bought my share of Fantastic Four comic books. But, I have to confess that I invested most of my allowance money into Batman and Superman comic books.
I would carry the comic books home, climb up my old tree fort, and read the latest adventures of Batman, Superman, Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four. I always thought that Johnny Storm was the coolest guy in comic bookville. Johnny Storm was 16 years old when he took that fateful space trip with his sister Sue, her fiancé Reed Richards, and spacecraft pilot Ben Grimm. While traveling in space, a blast of cosmic radiation affects all four space travelers, in different ways, to each become super heroes. Thus, the Fantastic Four was born! Like Peter Parker, who is Spider-Man, Johnny Storm still attends high school while carrying on the torch of being a super hero.
In the newest Fantastic Four film, Johnny Storm is no longer a Caucasian teenager, but is now an African-American young man. A lot of discussions have resulted all over the Internet as a result of this change. Many of the purists, who question the change have been called racists. It saddens me that comic book lovers cannot openly discuss their feelings for one of comic bookland’s favorite super heroes, without being called racists. People are just sharing their heart-felt feelings about the change of Johnny Storm, not about race relations.
At first, I was afraid to discuss this on my blog. I thought to myself, “the Human Torch controversy is too red-hot to relate to on my blog.”
My good friend, Bobby T. is an expert on the subject of the Marvel Universe. He and I go back to the golden ear of Yahoo Auctions, at the dawn of our new millennium. If Bobby were to appear on Jeopardy and the category was “Comic Books” nobody could come close to Bobby’s knowledge of super heroes. Yes, he’s that smart on both the DC Universe and the Marvel Universe.
Many of us, who have mixed feelings about the Johnny Storm change, have retreated and keep quiet, for fear of being called racists. My friend Bobby is a comic book purist and has taken a very knowledgeable, informed, and responsible stand on questioning the need to have changed the race of Johnny Storm. It has nothing to do with race relations, it has everything to do with maintaining the integrity of the original Fantastic Four.
I feel kind of sad, that so many of us have crawled under the woodwork and retreated from Internet discussions on the controversy of Marvel changing the race of Johnny Storm. Really and truly, it’s not about race relations. It’s about our need to have time to adapt to the change of the super hero we identified with, way back when we were 11 years old and in sixth grade.
Please don’t call us racists, those of us who are Fantastic Four purists. Please don’t call us racists, we have to make a big adjustment here. Just being open and honest.
Peace and harmony,