Though still two months away from its long-awaited debut, the buzz surrounding the fourth cornerstone of the ULTIMATE MARVEL foundation – Brian Bendis, Mark Millar and Adam Kubert’s ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR – is ALREADY starting to build.

Esquire Magazine has picked ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR as a pop culture event to watch in the ‘Index’ section of its upcoming December edition, and just this week Comics Buyer’s Guide (issue #1564, 11/7/03) named it “HEAD OF THE CLASS” of its December 2003 “COMICS IN YOUR FUTURE” selections, giving it three “A+” scores and a composite score of “A-” from a seven-member review panel of comic book retailers.

Here are samples of just some of the retailer reviewers’ glowing comments…

“There is a good reason that Bendis wins awards every year for his comic book writing. It’s because he clearly cares about what he’s writing: both how the reader perceives it and how it treats the material that came before it. This comic book does a masterful job of handling both of these immense tasks… A stupendous start, a must read.”

“…This is a luxury vehicle, smooth and sleek.”

“This is everything that a first issue should be; beautifully illustrated and expertly faithful to the script. These are top creators at the top of their game obviously working with characters that they care for, and all the joy and discovery and the sense of wonder that the Fantastic Four should engender are here. I can’t wait for the next issue.

Readers who want to sample the issue for themselves can also check out the special ten-page preview of ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #1 in this week’s new issue of WIZARD (#146), along with these two new sample sketches by artist Bryan Hitch, who contributed the new series’ character designs.

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The 32-page ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #1 goes on sale 12/31 with a cover by Bryan Hitch and a cover price of $2.25. Retailers are reminded its Final Order Cut-off (FOC) date is 12/11. Readers, ask your local comic book retailer to reserve your copy as well as copies of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #50 and ULTIMATE X-MEN #40, as part of December’s new reader-friendly ‘ULTIMATE STARTS’ event!

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