Posts Tagged ‘Fantastic Four’

Rating System:
**** : Excellent
*** : Good
** : Fair
* : Poor
Zero : Horseshit

Brightest Day #1
By: Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark, Joe Prado

This was the ultimate impulse buy of the week for me. I had already picked up three other books and was still wandering around, I really wanted a fourth book to round out the week. “Finding everything you are looking for?” asked the guy running the store for the third time. He was a young kid who I don’t see often on Thursdays. I guess he wasn’t use to seeing me wander around aimlessly like Jen, the nice lady who usually works the store on Thursday. “Just looking for something new and exciting.” was my response. “What about Brightest Day, you get a free white ring when you buy the issue.” To be honest, the whole ring thing set sail for me a long time ago, and I told myself no more ‘events’ this year. But I didn’t want to be rude to the guy, so I looked over at the display set up next the register and picked up a copy, it was a nice looking book, took a quick look at the back and noticed no filler, all for $2.99. So I say, “What the Hell.” I paid for my comics and went on my way.

So how was it? The first thing that stood out was the artwork, Ivan Reis, Pat Gleason, Ardian Syaf, Scott Clark, Joe Prado (Christ, that’s a lot of artists!) turned out a beautifully drawn book here. But beyond the art I honestly didn’t feel any love for this comic. I mean all the elements are there for this to be an awesome book. I just feel like I have been here before with Geoff Johns, he is writing a mystery dealing with 12 characters, heroes and villains, that were resurrected at the end of Blackest Night. By the end of the issue I found myself thinking “ I don’t give a shit.” I just spent the last year following the Blackest Night event, a story that was nothing but characters being brought back to life (or unlife), sure they were evil and what not, but after seeing just about every major and minor hero and villain in DC universe coming back to cause trouble, I was just having a hard time caring as to why this bunch is running around again. After reading this book, it feels like Blackest Night all over again, not in the sense that it was the same story, but the storytelling and the structure of the book felt very familiar to me. Johns was creating a lot of cool individual moments here that were not adding much to the overall story in the long run. Black Manta shows up for the big reveal at the end of the issue left me cold, I knew this was a cool geek moment by Johns that was suppose to get me all hot and bothered for the next issue. Instead I was left thinking what did this have to do with anything related to the ‘Big Mystery’, I guess it’s a case of once bitten, twice shy, Johns jerked me around so much in Blackest Night that I have become automatically suspicious of anything he does story-wise.

I can’t quite put my finger on why it is this book felt so lifeless for me. Perhaps it was seeing Hal Jordan and Sinestro still hanging around bickering like kids, long after they should have parted ways. Maybe it was the fact I have just never been a fan of many of the characters the Johns has chosen to focus on here, Aquaman, Deadman, Firestorm, J’onn J’onzz and the Hawks have never been big draws for me as a comic reader. Or it could be that there is too many characters being dealt with here, some of the characters get as little as two pages of face time in this book, certain scenes feel rushed or incomplete, perhaps fewer characters would have allowed Johns to focus more on the core story. I have a bad feeling that unlike Blackest Night the readers will be forced to buy the crossovers to get the complete story here and if that is the case I will be taking a pass on this one. I am really feeling “event” fatigue at this point and I am more than happy to spend my money on ‘smaller’ stories was focused plots, good characters that I care about and writer that just want to create a likable story and not the next big, world shattering event.

Rating: **

Doomwar #3 (of 6)
By Jonathan Maberry and Scot Eaton

I know this book is two weeks old, but I was surprised to see it on the shelf this week during my visit to my LCS. I am loving this series so far and I know this is a tough story to following along with if you miss a issue, so picking this one up was a no brainer.

First thing I noticed was the cover by JRJR was his best effort so far, and by that I mean the least sucky and the easiest on the eyes. Sorry Romita Jr. fans, but this a far from his best artwork. Opening the comic up finds T’Challa and his forces back in tentative control of Wakanda. Unfortunately, Dr. Doom was able to defeat the final lock on the vault containing Wakanda’s supply of Vibranium and has made off will every last bit of the valuable metal. After two fast paced issues filled with action, writer Jonathan Maberry slows things down quite a bit in this issue. The story breaks down into two parts, T’Challa enlisting the help of the Fantastic Four to help him find the stolen Vibranium and the second part being a flashback revealing how Dr. Doom managed to delete the final lock on the vault that was suppose to keep guys like Doom out. The storyline with T’Challa and the Fantastic Four is pretty standard stuff, I never realized what a crutch Mr. Fantastic has become in the Marvel U, this was the second book this week I read with a hero calling on Reed to help solve a problem for them. I think Reed Richards needs to start screening his calls or he will never get any quality time with the wife and kids. The second part of the story dealing with Doom is by far the meatier part of the book. Maberry expands Doom from a evil super-villain who wants to conquer the world for selfish reasons, to a true believer, who really believes what he is doing is the best thing for the Earth in the long run. This mini-series is still the best thing Marvel is putting out this year and if you are not reading this series yet… well, I would tell you start reading it, but you really need to start it from the beginning to understand and get the full impact of the story. So for you late comers, wait for the trade.

Rating: ***½

Fantastic Four #578
By Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham

This is part four of of the ‘Prime Elements’ storyline from Jonathan Hickman and he is still piling it on in terms of creating a epic storyline with no mercy for the casual reader. I couldn’t even begin to summarize the story so far, there is no way to put what’s happening here in a nutshell. I would venture to say a person just picking up this issue to give it a look through would be scratching their head as to what is going on, and I would not blame them in the least if they put this book back on the shelf and moved on to something else. But for those of us who have been following along from the start you could call this a Johnny Storm issue. Poor Johnny has a “Looking for Mr. Goodbar’ moment with a woman he meets in a bar that leads him to make a rather rash decision that could spell disaster for him and everyone in the Baxter building. Oh, and for those keeping track, the fourth civilization is revealed and the war of the four cities begins. I liked this issue overall and it was nice to see The Human Torch get the spotlight for change. I am starting to worry a bit that Hickman might start losing people if he introduces any more plot elements into the story.

Rating: ***

Invincible Iron Man #25
By Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

An over-sized issue to kick off the post ‘Siege’ era for Matt Fraction’s Iron Man book. I am happy to say the extra pages contain no filler, just a whole bunch of story dealing with Tony Stark attempting to rebuild his life, rebuild his company and repair a lot of burned bridges. There is a whole bunch of stuff happening here in this book, so don’t be surprised if you have to read this one a few times to absorb everything that happens in this comic. At times it feels like there might be too much ground being covered here. Tony has a lot of stuff on his plate and at times the story seems to rush through certain scenes leaving me unsatisfied. I wanted less of the Hammer girls, a story that quite frankly feels a bit rehashed and not very original, and more of Tony mending relationships with Pepper Potts and Thor. Tony has a scene with Mr. Fantastic (to the rescue again!) where they talk about everything that is happening with Stark’s body and the aftereffects of the Extremis armor, but the one thing they don’t talk about is what happened during the ‘Civil War’. Tony starts to head down that road and Mr. Fantastic, instead of talking with Tony about what happened, simply says, “Well what’s done is done and what’s now is now.” Really? That’s all Reed has to say on the subject? He should have just handed Tony one of those picture’s of the kitten dangling from a string, with the caption “Hang in there!” on it. I liked most of what Fraction was doing here, but I just wanted more of the personal stuff with Tony and less of the Hammer girls and Detroit Steel.

Rating ***

Thunderbolts #143
By Jeff Parker and Miguel Sepulveda

This issue marks the end of Norman Osborn’s version of the Thunderbolts. A lot of action and not to much talking, the whole issue is one long pitch battle. The Mighty Avengers taking on Scourge, Mr. X, and Grizzly for control of the Spear of Odin. Ghost, Paladin and Ant-Man also do what they can, pitching in to help make sure Osborn never gets his hands on the Spear. Nothing earth shattering or really surprising happens here. Everyone that should get their asses kicked get them kicked pretty good, villains that should get a second chance get one and Norman doesn’t get his spear. There are a couple of good moments, Ant-Man gets the chance to rub the yellow off his belly and Mr. X gets the beat down of a lifetime from Quicksilver. The book ends with Luke Cage taking over the Thunderbolts and talking about bringing villains up, instead of bringing them down, at least I think it was Luke Cage. Did I mention the art was pretty bad in this issue? I wonder if the editors at Marvel looked at that last splash page and told Miguel Sepulveda, ”Hum, why don’t you put a name tag on his jacket, just to make sure.” I am looking forward to Jeff Parker’s continuing run on Thunderbolts and this was a pretty satisfying end to this current incarnation of the Thunderbolts.

Rating: ***

-IM

Ok, this is really only one email and not multiple emails like the title of the post suggests so sue me. Every week I email IronMuskrat to see what books he bought and whether or not he’d like to do a review for us. Before I even got the chance to email him this week though I found this waiting for me in my inbox. I thought it was entertaining and informative enough that I would make a post out of it (with some minor editorial edits and changes) and share it with all of you. -J.

Subject: Preemptive Strike
From: IM
To: J.

Jose!

Just picked up a few books today and thought I would do a preemptive strike and tell you what I thought about them before you sent me a email.

Doomwar #1 – yeah I know this one is old news, but I really felt the need to go back and get it to fill in all the details that left me scratching my head reading issue two. First of all, since when is a variant cover just the original cover in black and white? JRJR original cover was bad enough in color, but in black and white it is undecipherable. Cover aside, it was a very strong issue that did fill in a lot of details that made reading issue two a lot more enjoyable. Mayberry writes a very strong story, one that you really do need to read from the beginning, I have a feeling the whole series will be like this, this event isn’t one where a casual reader will be able to jump into at any point. The art by Scot Eaton was good, but the inks are very dark throughout the book, almost to the point where I felt I had to put some light on it to see all the details. But overall I agree with you and Elliott, this is the best new series of the year so far.

Detective Comics #863- A very interesting issue, although I feel that in the end , not a very successful one. Both Batman and Batwoman are hunting different killers that appear to be almost identical in behavior and the type of crimes they are committing. Their investigations run parallel to one another and are (again) almost identical in method and how they turn out, although they never meet or appear to connect with each other in any way. I guess that my biggest issue was with the story. Both stories are so similar that it seems a bit redundant to me and since neither Batman and Batwoman ever interact in this book, I don’t really see the point of the two stories being included together. I think Rucka has done a very strong job filling out Batwoman as a strong character and a hero, it seems silly to do a side by side comparison to show just how similar she is in methodology and ability to Batman. This story was pretty good, but in the end I felt a little insulted at the idea that Rucka felt the need to show me just how similar Batwoman is to Batman in such a heavy handed way.

Now the second feature was much better experience for me, I really have been enjoying the Question /Huntress stuff and this issue is no exception. I will avoid any hysterical ‘The Question needs her own book!’ talk. But as a backup feature in Detective Comics it is a joy to read and when Vandal Savage shows up at the end I did get a little surprise and a chill up my spine that I did not get from the main feature.

And there was a Flash preview that I didn’t give a shit about, sorry, never been a big Flash fan.

Fantastic Four #577- I have to give Hickman credit, he is taking his time with this story and doesn’t seem to be giving a shit about losing any attention deficient fanboys who might be incapable of following along for the long haul without a baby being thrown out a window or a woman being abused or killed. I did have a hard time following along with this issue, the learning curve this time around is steep and I will probably be spending a little time on Wikipedia tonight researching some of the stuff that was going on here. My biggest complaint with this story arc so far is I am starting to wonder if this is really a Fantastic Four story? For the most part the FF have been spectators in everything that has happened up to this point. Something happens, the Fantastic Four show to investigate what is happening and they spend the rest of the issue watching events unfold or having things explained to them. The FF just seem to be very passive so far up to this point, not really acting on the events that are unfolding around them. The cliffhanger at this end of this issue was very cool and should spell the end of the Fantastic Four being tourists in this whole story arc and taking a more proactive role in dealing with what is happening on the Earth and on the Moon. Eaglesham’s art is very solid as usual, but I did notice he is drawing the same ‘Reed Richard’ type face on a couple of different characters. No biggie though…

I really like what Hickman is doing here, but I just want to see more from the Fantastic Four other than them standing around looking like tourists.

Blackest Night #8- Shit what can I say about this book? It was a disappointment for sure, but I am still trying to pin down the biggest source of my disappointment. I mean the book is filled with a lot of cool individual moments, John’s is the master of writing WTF moments that make comic fans squeal with glee and Reis’ art is top notch as usual. So why did I feel so disappointed at the end of this event?

1. That’s enough Geoff Johns!

Johns spends way too much time here jerking off the fanboys and not enough time explaining what the fuck is going on, that’s cool up to a point. But John’s is like that person who is trying to give you the best blowjob ever, but they spend way too much time doing a bunch of silly shit that feels good but does nothing to finish the job, in the end you just want to tell them to stop fucking around and just put it in their mouth. Ok, that was a little graphic, but John’s basically spent two issue putting Sinestro out there as a White Lantern to rile up the fanboys, only to unceremoniously dump him when he wanted to move on to other cool moments. You have to ask yourself, why even make Sinestro a White Lantern if it did nothing to move the story along or do anything to resolve the event?

2. Black Hand did what?

Ok, so Black Hand is the anchor for Nekron and when his link is severed Nekron cannot exist on Earth. So why exactly does all of those White Lantern rings start coming out of his mouth when he is brought back to life? Is he now the anchor for the White Entity? I mean even though William Hand is brought back to life, he is still a crazy fucker with a huge hard on for death. This might be something of nitpick, but it goes to my third point.

3. Nothing is resolved or explained.

Nekron is sent back to the corn field but otherwise unharmed or dealt with. Black Hand is still alive, but held by the Indigo tribe. The Anti-Monitor is back, along with a whole bunch of heroes and villains. Barry Allen and Hal Jordan even have a conversation at the end of the book basically saying nothing has been resolved or explained.

You know after almost a year of the Blackest Night event, I would expect a little resolution to everything that has happen. Instead we just get what amounts to a huge reset button, I really thought Johns was going to do something really deep here, exploring the nature of death in the DC universe or the lack of anything resembling a permanent end for characters who die and come back, sometimes multiple times. Instead we get what looks like a cheep stunt for a wholesale resurrection of DC characters who have died over the years, free and clear, with no attempt to explain what happened. Instead of Blackest Night giving some clarity to the DC Universe it has just made things even more confusing and I am pretty sure that was not the original intention.

IronMuskrat

This is the first of what will hopefully be a weekly column about my thoughts on the week in comics and related stuff. It will be made up of mini op-ed pieces (don’t worry I will still be doing in depth op-ed pieces every so often), plus some mini-reviews of comics read during the week, some blog recommendations, maybe a book review here and there too.

*RANTS!

1. Last week the Kirby family filed suit against Marvel for termination of copyrights and compensation for lack of credit in films for characters co-created by Jack Kirby. I did an op-ed piece on this a couple of months ago, you can read it here. My views since then haven’t changed one iota, Jack Kirby was Marvel comics dynamo and it’s time that his pride and joy, his family, get the rewards that he was due but never received.

My admiration for the King is not secret so I will unashamedly cheer on the Kirby family to their victory. So what will it mean for the characters in question? Well, Marvel will have to stop publishing the current versions and the family will be able to sell them to DC…..Actually the only people who think that might happen are retarded fanboys who have no clue about copyright law. What will happen is that Marvel will give a big settlement to the Kirby’s and pay royalties for future use.

Hopefully that will open the door for other writers/artists or their families to get their dues also, lets not forget other creators like Bill Everett, Don Heck, Steve Ditko and the rest.

2. Remember my other Op-ed piece about Captain America: Reborn? Well in case anyone thought there was no substance about my accusations against Hitch, just take a look at his art agent’s page. Big splash pages are going for $2000+ whereas “crappy” story pages only go for about $250, a pretty big incentive for him to throw the writer under the bus, eh?

3. Palmiotti and Gray aren’t writing Power Girl anymore and they replace them with Judd Winick??? Sorry but I fucking hate that guy’s writing, expect this book to turn into a train wreck. They should have given the book to Keith Giffen, then it might have continued to be Bwa-ha-ha funny, bad choice DC!

4. Dark Avengers #15, oh you better believe I fucking hate this book with a vengeance. I agree with Jose’s Op-ed piece 1000%, I’ll be doing an Op-ed piece of my own on related matters in the upcoming future but something did strike me when I was reading about the descriptions of Ultimate Comics Avengers #5 and Justice League: Cry for Justice #7…it’s a quote from the description of part of the Battle for Warsaw in 1944 between the SS and the polish resistance (I’m a bit of a history buff btw) which went as follows : “Favoured tactics during the siege reportedly included playing “bayonet catch” with live babies, and torturing captives to death by hacking off their arms, dousing them with gasoline, and setting them alight to run armless and flaming down the streets of Warsaw.” I guess now we get to read about this stuff happening to our favourite heroes now, what’s the world coming to?

5. Goddamn Kick-Ass trailers are on the tv here all the fucking time, there are even posters up on billboards for it, there is no way in hell that I will be going to see that piece of shit and if you have any taste at all you won’t be giving money to that ginger hack Millar.

6. IDW have been promoted by Diamond Comic Distributors to be one of their Premier Publishers which means that they will be out of the back section of Previews magazine and moved up to the front with Dark Horse, DC and Image (Marvel have their own separate Previews comic-sized magazine). They will have much more room to display their products, instead of being squeezed into the current 12 or so pages they will have up to 40 pages to display their wares and be able to promote their comics much better.

I recently previewed one of their comics, Mystery Society, and they normally have a knack of producing interesting comics along with their normal licensed stuff like GI Joe and Transformers. How long till Boom Studios make the transition to Premier Publisher status?

BTW anyone ever notice how much Robert Kirkman looks like Hacksaw Jim Duggan?

*COMIC MINI-REVIEWS

These are some reviews on comics I’ve read so far this week. I get my comics via mail order in one or two packages a month so these won’t be “new” comics per se but they are recent. I’ll be trying to mention ones that Jose, Elliot and Ironmuskrat don’t get around to doing full reviews on.

Justice Society of America #34 and #35
If you want a comic that tells good superhero stories without babies being thrown out of windows or rapes then this should be a comic for you. Swipes at Millar and Bendis aside, I really enjoyed these comics. The newly split JSA fought against Mordru, he sent them all into pocket dimensions where they faced their greatest fears then teamed back up to kick ass. This served to reintroduce the characters and bind them together, I think these issues would be a great jumping on point for new readers. The only minor niggle would be with fill in artist Travis Moore who can be a little weak with getting faces right but otherwise did a good job while Jesus Merino catches up.

Fantastic Four #576
This is the second issue of the Prime Elements arc and this story is just sumptuous. From Dale Eaglesham’s art which is reminiscent of Big John Buscema’s classic art to Paul Mounts gorgeous colours, this is just a feast for the eyes. As for Jonathan Hickman’s writing, well only half a dozen issues in and its already got the makings of a classic run up there with John Byrnes mid-80’s stuff, Walt Simonson’s underrated early 90’s run and Waid and Ringo’s epic run of the early noughties (nothing will ever beat Lee/Kirby of course). This episode the team goes under the Antarctic Ice cap to meet an unknown aquatic civilization, Hickman just throwing new ideas out on every few pages.

Outsiders #26 and #27
From the sublime to the ridiculous, Dan Didio takes over from Pete Tomasi and makes a complete dogs dinner of this comic. I really enjoyed Tomasi’s take on the team, which actually made sense but Didio has thrown out all the set up from that run and shipped the team off to Markovia where Brion has made peace with the Kryptonians who send the freakin Eradicator to be their peace envoy….can’t see any trouble with that can you?

I’m not criticising this book because I hate Dan Didio, I actually think he’s done a good job with DC editorial in the last year but unfortunately he’s just a terrible writer, these are only worth getting to laugh at how out of character everyone is and how ham fistedly every situation is handled, case in point being the cringe worthy advances of Owl Man towards Katana. Its not offensive in the same way as a Bendis or Millar comic is, just really poorly written and drawn.

Milestone Forever #1
This I guess is the formal reintroduction of the Milestone characters after the JLA arc of just over a year ago. The first thing that strikes me is the hideous cover on this, apparently DC editorial changed the cover and put this purple wash over the art, there’s no way that I would pick this off the shelf if I didn’t know what it was first, it looks so horrible. The first 8 pages of art by Jean Paul Leon though were very enjoyable, they reminded me of the Kirbyesque art of Shaky Kane.

The rest of the (expensive prestige format) issue was by MD Bright and Romeo Tanghal and sorry to say it but the art was so nineties that it hurt. And so to be honest so was the writing, considering they had 48 pages to work with I couldn’t tell you much more about the characters now than before I read it and that wasn’t much to start with.

Tails of the Pet Avengers #1
This is an anthology of Pet Avengers stories leading up to next months second Pet Avengers mini-series. Each of the pets gets a 5/6 page story which adds up to 30 pages of story/art for $3.99, not a bad deal. The stories range from the cute (Lockjaw) to the poignant (Lockheed) but as always Ms Lion and Frog Thor stole the show, Ms Lion doing some detective work on a cruise ship and the great Frog Thor leading his frogs in a fight against some alligators who were trying to invade their pond in Central Park. Nice writing and art by Chris Eliopoulous, Colleen Coover, Ig Guara, Gurihiro and more, this is truly a comic for all ages and a great break from all the angst-ridden ultra violence that seems to be popular amongst the fanboys now.

*BACK ISSUE BIN

DC Holiday Special ‘09
This came out back in November/December of last year, 80 pages for $5.99 with a Christmas/holiday theme. I don’t think this sold huge numbers, certainly not in the direct market anyway, which is a pity because its actually really good, it will probably be dirt cheap as a back issue.

Its worth tracking this down in the back issue bins of your LCS or Cons for the Sgt Rock story by Billy Tucci alone. Added to that are great short stories of Enemy Ace, Red Tornado, Flash, Batman and Martian Manhunter plus there’s an Angel and the Ape story so you can’t say no to that!

*BLOG RECOMMENDATIONS

Perhaps like me you visit blogs other than the CCW one (I know, it’s a shock isn’t it?) Perhaps you too have idle time to fill at work, I know I do! So every column I’d like to recommend one or two I like, if you’ve got favourites then by all means let us know!

Grantbrigde Street and Other Adventures
http://grantbridgestreet.blogspot.com/
I just love this blog, its got loads of stuff I’m interested in from the 60’s to the 90’s, obscure comic strips from the greats like Romita, Kirby, Toth, Charest, Ditko, Buscema, art gallery’s of favourite characters like Doctor Doom, Catwoman, Superman etc. Its got Superhero’s, bizarre sci-fi, horror comics, freaked out shit and lost comic strips like the great Brendan McCarthy’s Sooner or Later, a beautiful Daniel Torres’ story , some great Phillip Druillet art and what about this amazing crazy piece by The King!

Pats Fantasy Hotlist
http://fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com/
This is another blog that I go to practically everyday as in addition to comics I’ve loved reading fantasy and sci-fi books for years and have really gotten back into reading novels in the last couple of years (Amazon is just so dirt cheap lol). Pats Fantasy Hotlist is easily the most popular F&SF literary blog out there because its accessible, down to earth (you know what I mean), and pretty easy going, somewhat like the CCW except not quite as community led as the CCW.

The content is consistently solid with writer interviews, excerpts from newly released and upcoming books (important if you’re undecided on what to read next), new Cover art and contests where you can win free books. If you like to read then this blog is worth checking.

*TV

I’m not going to comment too much on TV as I’m way behind on what is being currently shown in America, I just can’t be bothered downloading tv stuff now. One series I’ve enjoyed for years though is Mad Men, the story of advertising executives in 1960’s Manhattan, the scripts are witty, the styling is spot on and they’ve got Christina Hendricks, hubba hubba! This is my favourite scene from the current series, Season 3.

Ok, that’s it for this week, I hope you enjoyed it, let me know your opinions. See you next week for more!

Title: Fantastic Four # 574
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Pencils: Neil Edwards
Inks: Andrew Currie
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $2.99

An old friend of mine, Tim, use to argue with me all the time about comic book artists and their artwork. Tim was of the opinion that the quality of the art didn’t matter as long as the story was solid. He would point to Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil and his other books as an example of story trumping pencils. I would counter his point by saying 1) Comics are a visual medium, if the artwork sucks you might as well just read a book. 2) Miller’s artwork was pretty damn good on Daredevil and if he didn’t appreciate what Miller was doing he was a fucking retard. We never did agree on this subject. Tim would always accuse me of not seeing the forest through the trees or something about me not liking a forest because it had ugly trees or some bullshit. Now that I think about it, Tim was kind of a snotty ass and that’s why I haven’t talked to the guy in years. So what does this have to do with new Fantastic Four book out this week? Well, I think it may be a case of me not seeing the forest through the trees.

Round One with Fantastic Four #574

I have been a big fan of Hickman’s Fantastic Four run so far. It was the first comic I picked up when I started collecting again this year. The first 3-issue story arc “Solve Everything” was a terrific way for Hickman to start his run. The one-and-done follow up “Adventures on Nu-World” was a solid story, though it felt a bit rushed. I was excited to see what would be in store next for the Fantastic Four, so I got me a beer and sat down in my reading chair and…

Wow! What was this? Something was seriously wrong with this comic. Franklin and the other kids look a little weird. Why do their heads have bloated manikin faces? I recognize Leech and Artie, but who are these other odd looking mutant kids at Franklin’s party? Holy shit, that’s suppose to be Power Pack! You have got to be kidding me and why does this artist hate Reed Richards’ face so much? Reed has a five-o-clock shadow, not a hobo beard and a giant chin! Wait! This birthday party goes on for how many pages? I have to look at these ugly kids for almost two-thirds of the book. The last third of the book doesn’t have creepy looking kids but it does have a time traveler and some stuff about Franklin and Valeria having to stop something in the future. I am sure this is setting up future stories for the book, but all of that doesn’t matter because I can’t stop thinking about the fact that Bentley Wittman’s clone kid looks like Pig-Pen from the Peanuts comic-strip. Not only was this the worst Fantastic Four comic I have read this year, this might spell the end of the entire Hickman FF run. Game over man, game over!

Later that night I messaged Jose to let him know what a turd of a comic this week’s Fantastic Four had been:

From: IM
To: Jose

Picked up Fantastic Four #574(ugh!) Chew #7(Terrific!) Detective Comics #860(nice, but I need to reread it again), and I found The Last Days of American Crime #1(I can’t believe what a quality book it was for five bucks!)

I guess I had the biggest reaction to FF #574 and not in a good way. The quality of this book has fallen sharply since the first story arc, and the poor artwork in this issue makes it worse. I can start writing a review tomorrow for any of the books, if you have one you want me to do in particular let me know.

From: Jose
To: IM

Huh, I haven’t yet gotten to FF yet. Is it that bad? Really? I’ll now HAVE TO read it next. Do a review of whichever book you feel will give you the best review, positive or negative. That’s usually how I go about it. Just let me know which one you decide on because I am going to TRY to do a review myself in the next day or so.

From: IM
To: Jose

The art by Neil Edwards is pretty bad, he seems to have a hard time drawing human faces. Reed Richards in particular seem to suffer at the hands of Edwards, looking like a bum most of the time. There is a panel on page six I think where everyone is standing around a birthday cake for Franklin, Reed looks like some kind of horrible manikin. The art really put a damper on the whole Birthday party, which takes up almost 2/3 of the book. the last third is better, but it looks like a set up for the Siege. I am hoping that is not the case.

Right now I am leaning toward doing a review of FF.

From: Jose
To: IM

OK. I just finished reading it. I actually liked it but ya, that art was fucking terrible. One of the only things worse than Bryan Hitch art is someone trying to imitate Bryan Hitch art. The art alone almost killed the book for me

All in all it was a set up issue for future storylines which is fine for me. I think that this is eluding to the Doom War and not the Siege, though I could be wrong. And Franklin got his powers back so that was cool.

Following the last issue with this story I can see where you have a problem with it not living up to the first story arc. To be fair, last issue was all about Hickman cleaning up some shit that Mark Millar left him with. I am glad Hickman resolved that shit Millar plotline right away (for the most part) because I really would rather not deal with it in the future.

I’ll be interested in reading your review.

So, Jose liked it? How was that possible? Didn’t he see all of the ugly kids running around in it. Set up? What set up? I tried to remember anything important that had happen in the comic and I had to admit to myself that I pretty much had stopped reading dialog after the first three or four pages. Could I have been wrong about this issue, did I let the art get in the way of the story? If anyone else had told me they liked this issue I would have laughed at them. Unlike most people I know on the internet, I respect Jose’s opinions on things though. With the idea that I may have missed something important in the comic, I decided to take a second look at the book.

Round Two with Fantastic Four #574

OK, things start out with Franklin and Valeria making some plans of their own on the day of Franklin’s birthday. Valeria has made something special for Franklin and he is worried it might not work. Valeria assures him he will be happy with the results. The birthday party gets underway with the whole Fantastic Four family present, along with Alex, Jack and Katie from Power Pack. Leech, Artie and that ugly gargoyle dude (who’s name escapes me right now) are also attending [Editor‘s Note: That “ugly gargoyle dude“ is none other than the android Dragon Man-Jolly J.]. The child clone of The Wizard is present here also, tying up a loose plot-line from an earlier issue. Franklin had questioned his father on what would happen to the child clone of Bentley Wittman, the clone kid that was the sole survivor of an earlier battle with the Fantastic Four. It looks like Franklin was able to convince his father to take care of the child for the time being. Sue Richards has a rather nice moment with Bentley(or number 32 as he likes to call himself) involving a piece of birthday cake. Reed offers Alex from Power Pack a job working with him on a special project, although no mention of what that special project might be.

After a bit, Spider-Man shows up to entertain the kids, much to the disappointment of Johnny Storm who has some nice dialog with Sue about Spider-Man’s needing to make a dramatic entrance to the party. As the party winds down, Franklin in a bit of twist gives presents out to everyone who came to the party. The presents range from gift certificates, to a key for a room at the FF headquarters for Leech to live in, and a helmet built by Val that allows Artie to once again project his thoughts to communicate. Spider-Man also gets a joke gift from Johnny that I won’t reveal, you will have to pick up the issue to find out what it is.

Later that night after the party is over, FF Headquarters get a visit from a time traveler, who quickly erects a force field to prevent the Fantastic Four from interfering with him. The traveler appears to stun Franklin as he walks out into the hall to see what is going on. The stranger seems to be interested in speaking to Valeria and gives her a rather cryptic message about “The future must be avoided at all costs.” This actually leads to the best part of the book, as future guy gives his message to Val, there is a series of child like drawings in the background that seem to give clues to what the traveler is taking about. I think there are some spoilers there if you can figure them out. By the time Reed gets the force field down the mystery man(who really isn’t a mystery anymore at this point, its pretty easy to figure out who he is) has finished his mission and taken off back to wherever he came from. The book ends with Valeria not revealing her conversation with the traveler to her parents and Franklin apparently regaining something that he had lost. I guess the traveler did more than just stun him in the hall.

Overall my second look at this book revealed a lot of good stuff I had overlooked because I hated some aspects of Neil Edwards art. There is a lot of setting up for future story lines here and some very nice character moments for just about everyone in the story. Hickman is doing a fine job of writing the Fantastic Four as not just a superhero team but as a caring family as well. He is really taking his time to flesh out Franklin and Valeria as major players in this book and not just background material. I should talk about the art for a moment. I had major problems with Neil Edwards art, but in truth, beside his apparent inability to draw children and not have them look like Rugrats, he does a pretty good job penciling everything else and I was surprised to notice he did the pencils on the last issue. I remember liking the art in that issue.

In the end this was another very solid issue of the Fantastic Four and planted the seeds for at least a few future story-lines here. I was very quick to label this book a turd, when I think I was the one being the turd for dismissing it so quickly. The forest through the trees indeed. I hate to say it, but Tim was right about me. I let art get in the way of a good story. I still believe comics are a visual medium, but in the future maybe I need be a little more forgiving.

IM