Fantastic Four: a novelization of the screenplay

Reviewed: October 19, 2005
By: Peter David
Publisher: Pocket Star Books
369 pages, $10.50

So why did I bother to buy a novelization of the summer’s hit superhero movie once I had already seen the film (and enjoyed it immensely, by the way)?

Well, I was trapped in a Calgary shopping mall with my wife and my female cousin, so I had a lot of time on my hands.

More importantly, however, were the variables of the writer and the script. In order to coincide with the release time of the movie, these books are usually based on an earlier draft of the script, often one that contains scenes and information that didn’t get into the shooting script, or that ended up on the editing room floor. In other words, there’s often more of the story.

As for the writer, Peter David has a lot of credibility in this area. He’s scripted most of the major characters in both the Marvel Comics and DC Comics universes, and written a ton of Star Trek and Babylon 5 novels. He’s really good at one comic creator John Byrne calls playing in other peoples’ sand boxes.

That doesn’t mean that he buries his creative talent in paint-by-number exercises. David has a wicked sense of humour, as well as a deep knowledge of the Marvel universe. While I can’t recall that he’s ever scripted the Fantastic Four, he clearly did his research.

The Ben, Reed, Johnny and Sue in the movie are not quite the ones in the original magazine. They seemed to owe more to the the Heroes Reborn and Ultimate FF versions in a lot of ways, but they had the flavour of the originals and David has kept that in his rendition of the script. He foreshadows the cosmic transformation well, and shows the subtle madness that overtakes the Victor von Doom character better than the film did.

As these things go, Peter David’s version of the movie was a superior example of the genre.