I was not a huge follower of artist Mike Wieringo, who passed away unexpectedly this Sunday, at only 44 years of age. I discovered him pretty late in the game. Which is why I didn't know if I should even comment on his passing here. But I thought he was a tremendously gifted artist; I quickly, if belatedly, became a fan of his work, which doesn't happen often for me these days. His art always seemed designed to be fun above all else, which is a rare and admirable ambition, and one he appeared to achieve with ease.
This special 9¢ issue got me to pick up a Fantastic Four comic for the first time in ages. It was my introduction to Wieringo, and I was instantly hooked. Along with writer Mark Waid, whom I also did not know much about before FF, Ringo reimagined and reinvigorated Marvel's first family, and made me excited to read "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!" for the first time since... well, probably since I read reprints of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby adventures when I was a kid. If it weren't for that 9¢ issue, I might never have given Ringo and Waid's run a chance, and I would have missed out on some wonderful tales. So thank you, Marvel, for that promotional gimmick, and thank you, Ringo, for the great entertainment.
I'm fortunate in that I have yet to read his work with Waid on The Flash, which, by all accounts, was even better, and I'm deeply saddened that there will be nothing more to look forward to from this talent.