How would you invent the Fantastic Four from scratch?

What if you were the artist of the first issue of Fantastic Four and had to design the characters with no knowledge other than the fact that they're somewhat mutated astronauts?

Warren Ellis posed this question to designers in his Whitechapel Forums, and the artists came up with teams completely different from Reed Richards and the gang. Said Ellis, "You have been told that the comic is about four people who steal a spaceship, fly into space, get heavily irradiated by cosmic rays, and return to earth weirdly altered by their experience. And that's it. The bastards haven't told you one more damn thing than that." Here are some of the more fantastic reimaginings.

How would you invent the Fantastic Four from scratch?

Here's how Neil Struthers describes his entry:

Energy entity discovers new friend in low Earth orbit. Energy entity greets friend in the universal language of Total Decomposition. Energy entity discovers, to its horror, that its new friend is not in any way equipped to handle Total Decomposition, being composed of many confusing and conflicting parts, some of which seem to have (screaming) minds of their own. Energy entity has a think, decides to put it back to together as best it can, then buggers right off before anybody discovers what it's done.

How would you invent the Fantastic Four from scratch?

Chris Graves has invented a character named "Roargasm."

How would you invent the Fantastic Four from scratch?

Mojokingbee's entry.

How would you invent the Fantastic Four from scratch?

Christian Panic's entry: Girlzilla, Necronaut, Spud, and Professor Meat.

How would you invent the Fantastic Four from scratch?

David Bednarski's entry.

You can view more excellent illustrations at Whitechapel. Also check out Ellis' previous redesign contests showcasing such characters as Steampunk Batman, David Lynch's Spider-Man, and Stanley Kubrick's Iron Man.

Top image by Ian Hardwick.