T-shirt #344 - Fantastic Four Logo - printed - blue-long-sleeve
I have been awaiting the launch of the new Marvel NOW! Fantastic Four with a mix of dread and anticipation of dread. There was just a lot of dread, actually. Terrible fear and dread and anxiety that there would be misery and suffering that could not be salved with any healing balm.
Really. It's like those plastic troll dolls with the blue hair, you know those? For three months, now, I have felt like hundreds of those little dolls with their fake beady eyes were drilling into my brain and planting dread spores, sitting on the back of my skull with their cantilevered drill works and scaffolds and the terrible and sickening malaise of what could be A VERY AWFUL COMIC BOOK.
Thankfully this was not the case.
IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THIS COMIC SKIP AHEAD TO THE SAFE TO READ NOW SECTION.
There's been a great deal of discussion about James Robinson (new writer on the Fantastic Four comic for MARVEL NOW) in the comic book store. My good friend and fellow writer Jeffery Johnson has been hyper-critical of James Robinson because of his recent, dreadful work on DC's Earth Two and especially prior to the new 52 the abysmal JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR THE JUSTICE series, which I did not read.
Prior to these "terrible" comics (for the record, I did not have as much of a problem with Earth Two as Jeffery did, though I will admit that some of the plot elements were handled in a sloppy fashion), James Robinson was held in very high esteem, so much so that an announcement that he would take on one of my favourite comic books would not strike terror in my entire dermal layer. In the past, especially the 1990s, James Robinson had created great comics such as LEAVE IT TO CHANCE (with the amazing Paul Smith), Golden Age and The Justice Society in the 1990s for DC, and of course, he wrote the amazing STARMAN (with Tony Harris) that I have discussed at length in T-shirt #138 and T-shirt #276. Given the dread I felt that a writer with a good track record but recently uninspired work would ruin my favourite comic book family, I am pleased with the first issue of the new Fantastic Four for MARVEL NOW.
In dramatic fashion, the splash page features a determined Susan Storm Richards, the Invisible Woman, sitting at a desk writing in a journal. For effect, the page is mostly shrouded in shadow with the one lamp providing the light around her seated figure.
Immediately fans will note the red uniform rather than the traditional blue (as in my photos of the t-shirt), which James Robinson has claimed there's a purpose for the red uniforms, though this purpose is not revealed in the first issue.
Sue is recounting a tale, in a diary entry to her children, at some point in the future, of the tragic events about to unfold in the lives of the Fantastic Four. By the point of her journaling, Reed Richards, Mister Fantastic, is a "broken man, a shell" ; Ben Grimm, the Thing, is imprisoned on murder charges sealed by Reed's testimony; her brother Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, is "a lost soul" and is shown drinking in a bar surrounded by women; and she confesses to being heart broken and alone.
This opening sequence introduces the characters after a fashion as any good first issue should do, which then opens on a double page splash in true epic comic book tradition, tying the team to its roots of monster fighting, which distinguished the very first issue in November of 1961.
The titles follow on another double-page spread heralding this tale as the "FALL OF THE FANTASTIC FOUR."
The battle ensues in which the characters are further defined for those who are picking up the comic for the first time. Reed, the genius, must calibrate his neutralizer gun while the rest of the team distracts the creature and protects the innocent. When it looks as if the Thing is injured or killed from a blow by F-F-FOOM, Johnny Storm shows his concern for his best friend and then his natural tendency toward mocking and heckling when he sees that his friend, Uncle Ben, is all right.
The team works together to defeat the monster as each has a role to play in ensuring that Reed's neutralizer does the job. With the major battle out of the way establishing the heroes as courageous, efficient, and powerful, Robinson plugs in the heart and soul of all the Fantastic Four comics: the personal relationships. Aided by some gorgeous art by Leonard Kirk (pencils), Karl Kesel (inker), and Jesus Aburtov (colors), the personal stories unfold, connecting to the recent continuity (Valeria is in Latveria with "Uncle" Doom) and establishing conflicts: Sue is hurting and lashes out at Reed, Ben wants to get back together with Alicia, and Johnny signs away his space-faring freedoms to a new tour contract. Meanwhile, as Reed and Sue bond over the grieving the absence of their daughter, the Future Foundation children run amok in need of supervision an discipline, reminding us all that this book is first and foremost about a family.
Much like an episode of The Waltons, the comic ends with the characters shown one at a time, happy, for now. Reed and Sue are nestled in each others arms, Ben and Alicia have reunited, Johnny flies happily through the night eager for his new career to begin, the Future Foundation children are covered in chocolate and dreaming blissfully. Sue's diary narration returns here to remind us that this is all the beginning of the end as she wrote at the beginning of the comic. The story ends as an ominous hatch marked only as "GATEWAY F" has its status light change from SEALED to UNSEALED and frightening insectoid creatures spill forth, bursting out of the Baxter Building and into the Manhattan night.
I am pleased with the start of the new Fantastic Four comic. James Robinson seems to have shaken off whatever rust or ill-conceived writing ideas were plaguing him at DC lately and delivers a strong first installment to a story that promises to shake the foundation of Marvel Comics' first family. The art is superb and the production values are of high quality. The comic ends with an editorial from new editor Mark Paniccia, sharing of his love for the team and his deep history with it (which shows me that he's about ten years or a little more younger than me).
Hold on tight. I am ready for more. Are you in?
Here's some text I have been saving and was going to present prior to the debut of this issue but decided to wait for the debut instead.
WORD OF THE NERD NEWS ITEM
All-New Marvel NOW! marks a brand new start for Marvel’s First Family – from the award winning creative team of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk! And they’ll take them to places you’ve never seen before in the all-new FANTASTIC FOUR #1 – on sale this February!
The Fantastic Four’s lives are full of deadly twists and turns. They’ve explored other dimensions, fought terrifying monsters, and stood together against some of the Marvel Universe’s deadliest villains! But they’ve always done so together. So what happens when the Fantastic Four go their separate ways?
The brilliant Mr. Fantastic, the compassionate Invisible Woman, the hot headed Human Torch, and the ever lovin’ Thing are about to embark on a new mission full of danger and excitement – and one that will see the Fantastic Four meet their untimely end!
“New readers and long-time FANTASTIC FOUR fans are in for an emotional and action-packed roller coaster ride that will tear the team apart at the seams,” says Senior Editor Mark Paniccia. “Broken hearts, betrayal, conspiracies and even murder will test this family of super heroes beyond anything they’ve ever experienced.”
FANTASTIC FOUR #1 also features a special 75th Anniversary Cover by legendary artist Alex Ross! This stunning cover celebrates 75 years of Marvel with a gorgeous rendering of the Fantastic Four in Ross’ rich, highly detailed style. Don’t miss your chance to own this piece of Marvel history!
All-New Marvel NOW! brings you the biggest creators and the biggest characters in the biggest stories! Don’t miss the beginning of the end for Marvel’s First Family when FANTASTIC FOUR #1 hits print and digital this February!
FANTASTIC FOUR #1
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art & Cover by LEONARD KIRK
Variant Covers by ALEX ROSS, JEROME OPENA,
SKOTTIE YOUNG, and KATIE COOK Also Available!
ON SALE FEBRUARY 2014!
GENERAL ARTICLE ON THE NEW FANTASTIC FOUR
Robinson mixes past and present for new 'Fantastic Four'
REVIEWS of THE NEW FANTASTIC FOUR
FROM WORD OF THE NERD
FROM COMIC VINE
FROM COMIC BOOK RESOURCES
+++++++++++++++++ SAFE TO READ NOW +++++++++++
Okay, safe to read here. If it's not entirely clear, I am a huge fan of The Fantastic Four. The transformations of these characters after their trip into space was both exciting and horrifying. Though the dreams of every child comic book reader were filled with the ways in which a serendipitous accident would confer super powers to the dreamer, the story of these four also warned of the dangers. Though Sue, Reed, and Johnny could pass form "normal" when not using their powers, Ben Grimm was forever changed, trapped in that hideous orange rock body. He did not even have the luxury of hiding his monstrosity like the Angel in the X-Men who bound his wings in a special harness worn under regular street clothes or Bruce Banner, who managed times of respite and normalcy, as long as he remained calm, between bouts of being the Hulk. The Thing also established the greatest theme of Marvel Comics' early years, the tragedy and angst of the New Wave of super heroes, more complicated versions of their counterparts from the 1940s and 1950s. Reed Richards carried the guilt of causing his best friend's seemingly irreversible transformation, though they would both seek transformation all the time, a "cure," which may not be the best thing after all (and never was each time they found a way) as Ben Grimm always returned to being the Thing without the chance to pass for normal. Though Reed was tormented by guilt, Ben Grimm's anger and pain were much more of a driving force for the stories of The Fantastic Four for most of the 1960s and 1970s.
My first Fantastic Four comic book made this motif abundantly clear. I started my reading of Fantastic Four in December of 1967 with issue #69. Looking over the next twenty issues or so, I would estimate that The Fantastic Four was definitely my favorite comic book as I have more of those early issues from 1967-1970 than any other comic book.
If you want to tour my blog a bit, check out the "My Oldest" category on the right side of the main page of the blog. There I have collected blog entries where I have posted some of the oldest comic book issues in my collection.
COMIC VINE LINK TO THIS ISSUE: BY BEN BETRAYED
The Fantastic Four try to fight Ben and subdue him, for his own safety, as the New York police call in the Air Force to take him out.
In a cover that harks back to King Kong, Kirby does some of his best and most dynamic art work and story telling as Jack Kirby was the driving force behind the excellence of The Fantastic Four comic.
Not only did this comic inspire me for its story and compelling art, but it cemented my FF fandom already fueled by the 1967 cartoon (see ad farther below) from Hanna Barbera.
Also, this issue is my first Marvel Comic -- as my first ever comic book was a DC publication -- opened up a whole new world to me of Mighty Marveldom as I began to enjoy the writing of Stan's Soapbox and began drooling over ads for Mighty Marvel T-shirts (see image below). I was entranced by Marveldom and wanted my own No Prize in the Mighty Marvel Manner. I was a REAL FRANTIC ONE from then on.
Examining the run of issues in that time period, this may be one of the few cases, especially at such a young age that I bought the next issue (#70) of a comic (as I rarely bought consecutive issues back then) as well as seven of the next ten issues (72, 74, 76, 77, 78,79, and 80).
To the left is Ben's final vow to "get" Richards for his betrayals as this story was continued in the next issue.
Check out this art in the page below (page 12) from issue #69. This is some of Kirby's best work. In fact, I would argue that Kirby's work from issue one of Fantastic Four through when he left the book in issue 102 is the best and most fertile period of the Fantastic Four and some of Kirby's best work in comics. Kirby really begins to hit his stride with issues around #s 20-30, and he begins the most classic period of FF history with issue 48, "The Coming of Galactus," truly establishing the comic by it's subtitle: "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!" But then, the long story arc starting with issue #68 and moving through the second coming of Galactus, Doctor Doom stories, Ben in space as a prisoner of a War Games despot, culminating in issues with the Frightful Four, the Inhumans, and the mega-battle issue 100 are some of the most amazing work in all of Marvel Comics history!!
SPECIAL KIRBY TECH STUFF
This nifty blogger, BULLY of Bully Says Comics Oughtta Be Fun is doing 365 days of tech created by the master Jack Kirby. Here's two of my recent faves.
Tonight at 13th Dimension you can find a guide, with specially-written mini-biographies, of each of the contributors to 13D: The 13thD Super Team: Who We Are and How We Came to Be! I would like to point out that it include my person pal John DiBello. Aside from that claim that "he writes most of the stuff" here at Comics Oughta Be Fun! (heresy!) it's a pretty accurate depiction. He does want to shake Ben Grimm's hand and thank him for the events of Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7, one of the greatest superhero comic books of all time. How great is it? So great that the Thing is acclaimed as the ultimate fighter in the universe, the warrior who will not give up.
Also, because of Reed Richards' Thing-Finderer...I mean, his Portable Energy-Detector.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2014
Reed may call it the Compu-Beam, but I like to say it's the Fantastic Four's Bathroom Alarm.
Read more at Bully Says Comics Oughtta Be Fun.
MY FANTASTIC FOUR CONTENT SO FAR (on this blog)
I am charting my Fantastic Four content by adding a Fantastic Four category. To sets of links here. First, links in which the Fantastic Four is featured on the shirt. Next, blog posts that featured "significant" Fantastic Four content, by which I mean more than a quick mention or the monthly item in the Weekly Comics List.
FANTASTIC FOUR SHIRT SPECIFIC
T-shirt #207 - Fantastic Four - Grey
T-shirt #235 - Fantastic Four Blue Long Sleeve (DIY) and Comic Book News
SIGNIFICANT FANTASTIC FOUR CONTENT (not shirt)
T-SHIRT #104 - SILVER SURFER, DAREDEVIL BLACK PANTHER
T-SHIRT #185 - BLACK PANTHER-1978
T-shirt #168 KUDL White (Fantastic Four cover featured)
T-shirt #305 - Michigan sectionals (Fantastic Four cover featured)
And over on my SENSE OF DOUBT blog:
THE “New and Improved” INVISIBLE WOMAN: Does she look like she needs protecting?
FANTASTIC FOUR WIKIPEDIA
The Wiki entry contains a great examination of who created the Fantastic Four Stan then Jack, Jack then Stan, or both Stan and Jack concurrently. It's worth a look if you're interested. I have too much content on this page to explore it at this time. :-)
...and just because.... (actually I might add my own review of this one later).
It should be no surprised given the love fest going on for this page that FANTASTIC FOUR - #001 took first position this week. If you're surprised that Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #005 took second place, don't be. I needed to know what happened and this is the final issue of the mini-series. So, Aquaman drops to third but look for this one to be back on top next month, unless it comes out the same week as FF. The Walking Dead has once again dropped from the top slot, but I would not be surprised to see it top a future week as the current story line is improving. The Avengers books are startling and riveting, especially Uncanny Avengers, which must be taking place in an alternate timeline given that it SPOILER SPOILER....Okay, I am not going to tell you. You're gonna have to read it.
Guardians is improving but I still like the original team better.
COMICS FOR 1402.26
FANTASTIC FOUR - #001
Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #005
The Walking Dead #122
Mighty Avengers #007
Uncanny Avengers #017
Guardians of the Galaxy #012
-+-+-+--+-+-+--+-+-+--+-+-+- current bookmark -+-+-+ - on 1403.02 - +--+-+-+--+-+-+--+-+-+--The Superior Spider-Man #028
Secret Avengers #016
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze #3
Avengers Assemble #024 (DeConnick & Ellis)
The Flash #28
World's Finest: Huntress and Power Girl #20
Black Science #4
Deadly Class #2
Teen Titans #28
Catwoman #28Miracleman #3
Satellite Sam #6
COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 21 shirts remaining
- chris tower - first published - 1402.28 - 20:10
updated - 1403.01 and 1403.02 - multiple times
final publication - 1403.02 - 16:52