Here’s another interesting find that I came across and for which I’ve been able to locate very little reliable information. As with the issues of EL SORPRENDENTE HOMBRE ARANA that we’ve been looking at from time to time, this issue of LOS 4 FANTASTICOS contains an original never-printed-in-the-United-States story featuring the Fantastic Four created by local hands for that market. It’s a weird artifact, and one that is worth sharing in the hopes that other people may be able to shine some more light on the circumstances surrounding it.
The publisher of this issue was Macc Divisiones Historietas, an outfit that took over publishing translated versions of the Marvel books after La Prensa, the publishers of EL SORPRENDENTE HOMBRE ARANA had given up the rights. The front cover date indicates that this issue was released on October 25, 1974. Macc Divisiones Historietas had begin reprinting FANTASTIC FOUR stories with #137 of the American version–a strange place to begin given that it was the middle of a two-part adventure. According to what I’ve been able to suss out, this story followed a reprinting of the American issue #144, so that’s where it presumably fits into continuity, for those who worry about such things.
From what I can tell, Macc Divisiones Historietas is a bit of a mystery even to Mexican comic book readers. The books didn’t give a whole lot of information as to who was behind them or where they were being published from. They were smaller than what we think of as typical comic book dimensions as well, closer in size to a classic TV Guide. (This is why most of these pages have only 3 or 4 panels on them.) As a publisher, they didn’t last all that long churning out Marvel books, but they covered a broad swath of titles being released in that 1974 era. They are apparently not terribly fondly remembered as much of the production work on the localizations was apparently crude and often amateurish-seeming.
What was behind this clearly unauthorized new story I could only imagine. I’m told that it was drawn by our old friend Jose Luis Duran, who produced many of the Mexican EL SORPRENDENTE HOMBRE ARANA stories, but I don’t know how true that is, or whether the folks reporting it only knew of a single Mexican artist who worked on these sorts of things. But it’s the best intel that I have.
The set of scans that I have may also be missing a story page or two. But there’s enough here to get a sense of the overall story. It’s definitely a lot more interested in making cheesecake out of Medusa than any American release of the time. I mean, just look at that cover!
What’s also interesting to me is just how little all of the members of the Fantastic Four do in this tale. Reed stretches once or twice, but only a little bit. The Torch never ignites. The Thing never does anything strong. And even Medusa’s living hair seems to be used mainly for ornamentation. It’s a pretty baffling approach for a super hero adventure.
What a weird-looking bunch of aliens.