All New X-Men #1
Writer: Brain Bendis
Artists: Stuart Immonen,
Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Corey Petit
20 pages, $3.99
Last week I wrote quite a lot about what I thought was wrong with the MarvelNOW! initiative. After reading two more NEW MarvelNOW! #1s this week (All New X-Men & Thor God of Thunder), I feel the need to make an addition to my previous complaints: These “new” comics fail to do what #1 issues are intended to do.
All New X-Men #1 features a recap page that briefly catches readers up on the goings-on with the X-Men as of late, and explains what mutants are. But why bother with a recap page? Isn’t the entire point of a #1 issue to set the status quo for the title… To give NEW readers a chance to get to know who and what all of these characters are about? If it is, almost none of that happens in this issue. What’s even worse, the recap page leaves out VITAL information…
… Like Cyclops being in prison and why he isn’t anymore. (I don’t know why he’s not.) He’s also running around with Magneto and Emma Frost. (I don’t know how or why this is happening either.) I’m guessing his freedom has something to do with the recently finished AVX: Consequences mini. But this lack of information problem is more deeply rooted than this recent mini-series: The only reason I KNEW Cyclops was imprisoned was because I read the last issue of the Avengers Vs X-Men limited series– which was published back on October 3rd.
New readers are not told any of these previous plot developments in this issue. At best, this recent history is only alluded to. All New X-Men #1 reads like the continuation of a story (which it is)– so if you have no idea who any of these characters are or what their motivations are or why there seems to be TWO different X-Men teams in this issue– you’re kinda shit out of luck. And people wonder why it’s becoming increasingly difficult to draw new readers to this industry.
So how about the actual contents of this issue? Well, I do have some problems with it. I just described one of them above… But my biggest problem with this comic is a particular type of storytelling technique that seems to have become quite popular at Marvel lately. It’s the hacktastic “This is how shit is and we are not going to explain to you why!” storytelling shortcut. Examples of this are: Hank McCoy going through yet another mutation that will cause him to die. Oh, and he also has access to a time machine.
The “hows” and “whys” are never explained… But they are very convenient plot points for the story being told. Bendis has pulled this stunt before and I used to give him the benefit of the doubt. I used to think the “conveniences” in his stories would be explained somewhere along the way– that there would be some kind of payoff… But most of the time they never were. Editors have let Bendis Logic™ run rampant all over Marvel’s titles for YEARS. There’s no way they’re going to stop him now.
Putting aside all the Bendis Logic™, the writing wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. Dialogue and character interactions were decent. There really wasn’t any of the quippy/cool line BS that populated all of Brain’s Avengers comics. For the most part, the writing was pretty solid… Except for some really, really, really clumsy and forced foreshadowing. To have a character say a line once in a conversation to possibly foreshadow something? Fine. But to have the SAME character say the exact SAME thing again 6 pages later? That’s lazy. It also makes me think the writer believes his readers are idiots and couldn’t possibly have picked up the not-so-subtle reference the first time.
However, I do think I know WHY this foreshadowing dialogue needed to be spoken again. It’s because Hank McCoy (the character who needed to hear this line) wasn’t around the first time it was spoken. So instead of Bendis rewriting the script to fix this mistake, he just writes essentially the same dialogue again in the next scene. Not to be repetitive myself, but this seems like some truly lazy writing. Good job fixing that Marvel Editors.
And now that mutants are back, Bendis feels the need to regurgitate the whole “Mutants are freaks and humans hate them” angle and why the X-Men need to recruit these new mutants and teach them how to control their powers. How ALL NEW and ORIGINAL. Christ…
Just because I said there isn’t any quippy/cool dialogue in the comic, doesn’t mean there isn’t some classic Bendis stupidity in the form of “stage direction”. You can tell he thought this would be really awesome– and some may have thought it so… But god damn, it just made me roll my eyes, laugh (in a non-complimentary way) and say, “Fucking Bendis” under my breath. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Cyclops was kinda bad ass in this issue. The character came off as thoroughly in control, like a X-Man with a Plan. But after he gives that sorta cool revolutionary speech, ol’ Slim throws up the CM Punk straight edge sign. Yes, Marvel Fanboyz, I am aware what the sign is supposed to signify in this case– but that doesn’t mean it looks any less idiotic. Repurposing something that is sorta currently big in pop culture to suit your own needs– mainly because you haven’t had an original idea in years (but want to come off as hip)– is just fucking sad.
The Stuart Immonen art is nice… But, then again, it always is. If only Immonen would draw a comic not written by a hack that I actually gave a shit about. Pipe bomb… – Jose Melendez
Where is Jake Ellis? #1 (of 5)
Writer: Nathan Edmonson
Artist: Tonci Zonjic
26 pages, $3.50
This has never happened to me before.
I purchased this comic for the express reason that it looked interesting. I liked the 3-page Comixology story preview and thought the art and story looked like my kinda thing.
Then I actually tried to read it.
There was two pages of re-cap at the beginning, essentially there (I’m guessing) to bring readers up to speed on what occurred in the first Who is Jake Ellis? mini-series. Except I couldn’t read the preview. I literally mean I couldn’t read it. The pictures and lettering were so small, I had no idea what was happening. Now I know 99.9% of comics aren’t made to be read primarily on an iPad or a computer… But come on, if these devices aren’t in the back of creator minds when they make their comics– they should be.
For those unfamiliar with the experience of reading comics on an iPad, there’s a cool feature with Comixology downloads that allows you to go panel-to-panel. I don’t use it very often but I was forced to here… Just to be able to read the words written on these two recap pages. So I did– I went panel-by-panel and I read the recap– and I still didn’t understand a damn thing. So I read the recap again. And then I read it a third time. Still didn’t understand it or what it was attempting to explain to me.
So I plowed on. The next page has the number 6 taking up the whole page. Readers of the original series may know what this means. I’m assuming since the first series was five issues, this number was there to remind people this #1 comic was really issue #6 of a continuing story. (I wouldn’t know. I haven’t read the first Trade yet– although it is in my queue to read.)
Then the actual story starts. The art looks nice. The coloring is great… But other than the word “Bangkok” and the comic’s title and credits appearing on the first page– there’s no other words on the pages until a caption box at the end of Page 2. It states, “He wants to be free.” That’s all I got out of the first 5 pages of this book.
Then I realized something: I didn’t want to read this comic anymore. The nonsensical 2-page recap was so confusing and cheesed me off so much, I wasn’t in the mood for anymore pretentiousness. So I quit reading it. Maybe I’ll pick it up again after I read the first Trade– but until then, I’ve got better things to do with my time.
After I made my decision, I went on the Net to try to figure out what this comic was about… And I did understand it better from reading a sales description– but I shouldn’t have to do that. Plus, I still didn’t understand the recap in the new comic after reading the description of the first series. I then realized this entire book would’ve been better off with no recap at all. I may not have understood what I was reading any better without it, but at least I wouldn’t have started off the comic feeling like somebody was trying to punk me.
Yes, I understand this really isn’t a review… Or at least an easily understood review. Fitting, if you think about it. – Ian MacMillan
The Walking Dead #104
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones, Cover Colors: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer: Rus Wooton
22 pages, $2.99
I got into The Walking Dead by reading the first Compendium. I bought a used copy from Amazon for $30 and read it in about 4 days. That’s 48 comics total or about 12 issues a day. I sincerely suggest you don’t do this… As I believe the book is a better read in monthly or individual trade format.
But after reading the Compendium, I was thoroughly hooked and emotionally attached to all the characters. I should also note this big book ends very abruptly. This had to be by design, because after reading this much story straight through– I had to keep going.
That’s how this comic has been for me ever since. It always gives me the feeling that I have to know what happens next. (It’s the same effect the television show LOST had on me in its prime.) Series creator Robert Kirkman has mastered this technique and it’s also probably why– according to Robot 6— that The Walking Dead #103 sold 74,372 copies, making it the 9th best-selling comic for October 2012. That’s an incredible sales result for an Image comic.
The WD TV show has really engendered buzz for the comic, as I’ve loaned that same compendium out at least 10 times– mostly to people who have never read comics before… And they all loved it! A couple of people have bought some of the trades and one person has already caught all the way up with the monthly comic. I haven’t seen an addiction like this since drug dealers introduced CRACK in the Eighties.
The real reason everybody likes The Walking Dead? It’s a damn good book… And it’s much more about the human characters than the Zombies. All 74,000+ of the current readers care about what happens to Rick, Carl, Andrea, Michonne and the rest of the crew. When someone dies, the book’s letter pages fill up with people telling Kirkman they are so pissed at him for killing a character. But it’s that same emotional pull that makes the book so good.
This issue is no different– as Carl really shows how much of a bad ass he is. The crew runs into problems with a group of mercenaries who are protecting different communities from walkers– then demand half of the community’s food as payment for their services. Rick is going along with the arrangement for now, but a lot of people are not happy (Carl included). In this issue, Carl sneaks into the back of the mercenaries’ truck with a gun twice his size.
Kirkman gives us the first glimpse of the mercenaries’ compound, as the truck drives through their gates. This double-page splash is perfectly timed. Long time artist Charlie Adlard nails the image, showing hundreds of zombies trapped or mutilated along the border of the compound– still animate but unable to truly move. As soon as the truck gets inside the gates, Carl jumps out and kills a bunch of mercenaries in the camp.
I can’t wait to see what happens next. As soon as you think you know where the book is headed, Kirkman pulls the rug out from under you– always keeping readers on their toes. I liked finally seeing what these mercenaries are all about.
But the leader of the mercenaries– a man named Nagan— is currently what really makes The Walking Dead so good.
Nagan is over the top– a real loud-mouth. He’s so sick and twisted, he makes The Governor look like Santa Claus. The group of guys he’s running with are very dangerous and have no problem killing. Nagan also seems to really like Carl and that truly scares me. It almost seems like Carl is going to go the way of Anakin and head to the dark side– with Nagan as his Darth Sidious. I doubt Kirkman will go there, but that’s the feeling I’m getting now.
This is another outstanding issue, in a long line of outstanding issues. The Walking Dead has become the Best Zombie Comic Ever and one of Top Five Zombie Stories in any medium. Do yourself a huge solid and start reading The Walking Dead. – Tom Devine
Marvel Universe Vs The Avengers #2
Writer: Jonathan Maberry
Artist: Leandro Fernandez
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
20 pages, $3.99
When I reviewed the first issue of Marvel Universe vs The Avengers, best-selling author (and IMJ Contributor) Jonathan Maberry politely took time to correct me on something– primarily that his different limited series (Marvel Universe vs Punisher, Marvel Universe vs Wolverine and this comic) are each 4-issue miniseries looking at a virus catastrophe from a different point of view…. With each series telling a different part of a much larger story. I immediately adjusted my review to note his correction… But I can go even further with my own corrections now.
I gave the first issue of this comic 3.5 stars. That’s a great rating (for me) and had nothing to do with Jonathan’s writing… I just wasn’t that impressed with Leandro Fernandez’ art or Lee Loughridge’s colors. Regular readers know what IMJ is about. We don’t pull our punches– ever. I feel this is the primary reason this new review column has become so insanely popular in only a few months. (As I write this review, last week’s Capsule Reviews column has received thousands of hits in the five digits.) But just to be clear: We’re not intentionally praising– or screwing– any creator here. There are no grudges being fulfilled and no favors paid for. We just call the comics like we see them.
And while some of my concerns with these two artists still remain with Issue #2— I freely admit Fernandez has stepped up the art in a major way for this second outing. Since many pencilers can lose interest as a comic progresses– the fact that Leandro’s line work shows stark improvement can mean two things: 1) Issue #1 was simply Fernandez warming up– familiarizing himself with Jonathan’s world and 2) I have gotten more used to seeing Fernandez’ reality-based work in a superhero setting. (My main exposure to Leandro Fernandez came from his excellent work with Garth Ennis on Marvel’s PunisherMax series.) In truth, I’ll just say Loughridge’s bland colors still aren’t helping and Fernandez’ realism would benefit substantially from the talent of a consummate colorist like Dave Stewart.
Enough of that… Let me tell you how amazing Marvel Universe vs The Avengers #2 is.
We all talk about how decompression has ruined most mainstream comics. You could even say we harp on the subject. This comic starts immediately where Marvel Universe vs The Avengers #1 left off– as Doctor Doom arrives in the middle of a bare-knuckle fight between the remaining Avengers and the virus infected denizens of Manhattan. And it never really leaves that spot… From the beginning to the end. Issue #1 ends with Doom stating he has found a cure for the virus turning humans into flesh-eating cannibals. Issue #2 shows Doom offering the cure with one major caveat: The heroes must kneel before him and accept the truth of his supremacy.
That’s it. That’s what this entire issue is about… And somehow, Maberry makes it as engaging as any comic book I have read recently. Of course, there’s lots of disbelief, resistance and fighting from the heroes– but the comic never really changes locale.
In the hands of a lesser writer, this book would stand as massive monument to wasting good trees and a poor use of four dollars. But this comic is something else entirely. And it all has to do with Maberry’s writing– his understanding of tension and the underpinnings of what makes the Marvel Universe so popular… And his mastery of meaningful dialogue. I learned more about Maberry’s Victor von Doom in a few panels than I have from years of reading Fantastic Four comics… And more about human nature and the face of true heroism too.
I really don’t want to describe the experience any further– other than to say Marvel Universe vs The Avengers #2 is a great comic… And one you should buy today without question. – Ian MacMillan
Great Pacific #1
Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Martin Morazzo
Letterer: Doug E. Sherwood
31 pages, $2.99
Think young Oliver Queen without the green tights or the bows and arrows. In fact, don’t think superhero at all. Instead think young Billionaire Chas Worthington, heir to a huge gas and oil conglomerate (parents “conveniently” dead) who masquerades as a ne’er-do-well silver spoon-type kid– while really being a huge environmental activist… One so committed to “fixing” the horrors our human society continually inflicts on our planet’s delicate ecosystem– that he’s willing to embezzle a couple of billion dollars from his company to fund a project that will hopefully reverse our world’s slide into inevitable ecological armageddon.
With the recent US Presidential election mercifully over, the environment is an important issue that sits firmly at the forefront of many American minds. Dwindling natural resources, mounting pollution and devastation… Focusing on renewable sources of energy to fuel our economies and our machines. And a variation of that idea is what stops Great Pacific #1 from becoming overly preachy or too GreenPeace-y for lots of potential readers. Chas Worthington doesn’t just want to rid our planet of the 4 million TONS of plastic bags and 2.5 million TONS of plastic bottles we discard every year– he wants to use his embezzled funds to refine and test a process that will make his family’s company even more cash, while cleaning up the world too.
His focus? A massive accumulation of trash that has merged into one huge floating muck in the middle of the ocean.
Great Pacific #1 combines grand ideas, recognizable characters and contemporary issues into a heady mix of corporate intrigue and youthful grandstanding. This first issue features a great set-up and interesting story– one well-worth exploring further. Joe Harris’ dialogue is illuminating without sounding like a textbook. Martin Morazzo’s line work is elegantly simple, yet expressive and engaging. He also uses the computer color palette extremely well. The book looks rich and realistic.
If you can pull yourself away from tired superhero stories featuring idiots that seem like they’d rather beat on each other than right some wrong, I strongly suggest you give Great Pacific a try. I promise it is neither preachy or didactic. It’s interesting. – Ian MacMillan
Thor God of Thunder #1
The God Butcher Part 1 of 5:
A World Without Gods
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic
Colorist: Dean White
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
20 pages, $3.99
I mentioned above that Thor God of Thunder #1 completely fails as a decent first issue to a new comic book series. But where the All New X-Men #1 was kind enough to give readers some type of recap page, this “new” Thor comic didn’t– at least not in my copy. There’s nothing at all letting readers (including hopefully some new ones) know just who the fuck this Thor cat is. You know, like where he’s from or some of his background. You, the reader, are supposed to come into this #1 issue knowing all that. Otherwise, why would you even care about the exploits of this character?
Sure, Thor BRIEFLY drops some info about his Pops, Asgard and its inhabitants– but that’s just about it. If you’re a NEW reader hoping to get some sort of introduction to the world essayed in Thor The God of Thunder, I’m guessing Marvel’s hoping you’ve seen the movie and/or read Thor’s Wiki Page… Because precious little of that info is here.
In other words, Marvel couldn’t give a shit about you, the NEW reader.
Another thing that’s not at all explained: When the NOW! portion of the story takes place. It seems like this story could easily come from an out of continuity mini-series. This does not feel like a meaningful Thor comic– which it’s supposed to be.
Other than the above, I really don’t have much more to say about this book. There are THREE different storylines running through it. One following Young Thor, one with NOW! Thor and one with Future Thor… With the so-far-unseen villain being the common thread. Luckily, already knowing a lot about Thor and his background– I did somewhat enjoy the story presented here… Even if the different Thors portrayed at various ages all seemed a bit too stereotypical. Young Thor just wants to drink mead and bed wenches. NOW! Thor is a fucking asshole. Future Thor is the last of the gods, so he’s all grumpy.
The art was serviceable but really needed to be inked. Sorry, I’m not a fan of colored pencils. Never have been, never will be. If you don’t care enough to put some extra time or money into making the art look good, then why should I care about it either? The coloring was a bit muddy and drab overall. Putting that on top of pencils is not doing the book any favors.
This was the 1st part to a 5-part story arc, so I guess the big question is “Did I enjoy the issue enough to warrant reading the rest– while also paying $16 for the pleasure of doing so?”
My answer is, “No”. It’s an interesting comic but, again– not #1 material. If this was a mini-series, I might give it a read as a Trade. But as a supposedly NEW Thor monthly title, no dice. I also think it would be oh-so-fucking sweet if I never had to read another preachy Jason Aaron comic about God, Faith and Praying. One trick pony much? I guess that’s what it takes to Write Comics The Marvel Way nowadays. – Jose Melendez
Avengers Assemble #9
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
20 pages, $3.99
It’s fitting that Avengers Assemble #9 comes with a Retailer Incentive Variant featuring a picture from The Avengers movie… As writer Kelly Sue DeConnick attempts to capture (a more descriptive word might be “ape”) Joss Whedon’s witty banter from the film.
She fails miserably… For the entire comic.
When I eviscerate someone’s work as badly as I did while reviewing DeConnick’s Captain Marvel #4, I don’t keep returning to their work just to further pound on them. I had never read any of DeConnick’s comics until that book, so I wanted to look at others to see if I was wrong. Or unfair. Or if the creator was just having a bad day when they wrote the comic I disemboweled. But everything I’ve read so far– including this very comic– just makes me think DeConnick is a bad writer. She has no idea what made the Marvel characters she’s writing so special and no grasp of how to tell anything but empty, inconsequential stories of no import. (At least from what I’ve read so far.)
This comic is so bad and insulting, I’m done. I don’t plan on reading anymore of DeConnick’s books until somebody convinces me things have changed for the better. (Highly doubt that’ll ever happen… But hope burns eternal.) You might be wondering what occurred in this issue that caused me to have such a vile reaction. That’s fair. The bile began to build during a six-page sequence at the beginning of the comic– a horrifically extended scene taking place in the breakfast area of Avengers Tower. It’s inane to the max– from start to finish. It’s everything that’s wrong with most current Marvel Comics in just one scene– featuring a smug Tony Stark betting the other Avengers that whatever team he assembles can complete a task faster and better than their team can.
God, it’s so awful… It’s godawful.
Rain Beredo’s color work is very nice– bringing much-needed depth to Stefano Caselli’s pencils. So if you like purty pictures coupled with a poorly conceived, badly written story filled with insipid dialogue– delivering an experience of zero consequence that accomplishes nothing but wasting your time and your money… Avengers Assemble #9 is the comic for you. – Ian MacMillan
Plot: Rob Liefeld
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artists: Marat Mychaels, Dave Beaty
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Wes Abbott
20 Pages, $2.99
DC has canceled this comic, deciding to feature Grifter in a “new” book called Team 7. Despite the cancellation being widely publicized, DC is still publishing the last gasps of this comic and still using long-departed writer Rob Liefeld’s plot too. It’s all sort of sad– almost like everyone has already given up and are ready to move on. Sometimes you just have to take one for the IMJ Capsule Reviews™ Team (I mean, Ian does it every week)… So I bought this issue knowing the comic was going to be shit– something I suggest you never do. If you know something is bad, don’t continue to buy it out of loyalty to publisher or character. By doing so, you’re only encouraging these people to print more of the same. But ever since I started writing IMJ reviews, I’ve felt the need to let people know when they’re buying a book that sucks… So that’s why I bought this comic.
This is something Jose’s been doing since the old CCW days. I used to watch that show on YouTube and think, “If these books suck so bad, why the hell is Jose wasting his time reading them?” One day he told us why: People should know there are a ton of fans picking up comics blindly based on the characters– and they need to know about the mistakes they’re making. People need to know they are spending their hard-earned money on something they should skip. This is a very big problem and one of the main reasons the industry is in the current state it’s in. I like to think I’m helping to carry on that tradition– so think of this as less a review and more like a public service notice.
The book opens with a horrible shot of Grifter in the desert questioning why he’s there. Then Midnighter comes out of some wormhole and tries to kick him. Grifter dodges the kick and attacks Midnighter as fast as he can– beating the shit out of the guy. As Midnighter gets up, they both teleport to a random location in the middle of the ocean. Suddenly the entire comic goes all SyFy TV Movie– as the two men team up to take on a shark. Right before they get eaten, they’re teleported to Tokyo. And then more of the same kind of crap, over and over. All this has something to do with a virus at Stormwatch— causing people to randomly teleport around the world.
After it was over, I was left thinking, “How the fuck could Grifter go toe-to-toe with Midnighter and win?” The answer is– he couldn’t… Unless you use Liefeld Logic™. (Ed. note: I can attest Jose & Tom wrote their reviews independently of each other– I added the trademark symbols. There’s apparently a lot of bullshit “logic” floating around in corporate comics these days.) Midnighter has superpowers, Grifter doesn’t. One of Midnighter’s main powers is he can tell what move his enemy is going use next. He must’ve just forgotten to use this power for the entire comic. It’s almost like Frank Tieri has no working knowledge of Midnighter, which is probably true.
The book was terribly drawn, with standard/generic DC colors. The entire issue is just absurd. The worst part of the comic: You could replace both these characters with ANY DC heroes and the book wouldn’t change at all. The dialogue is also generic, so it wouldn’t matter which superhero in the book was speaking it… The story would still read the same.
Come on DC. At least try to look like you’re making an effort. You’ve probably lost everybody with the shark fighting scene alone… But if there is anyone still buying the book, I doubt they’re reading it. They’re probably just “completing the run” for their collection. DC, put your fans out of their misery already!
This book is really bad– but not bad enough to be “sooo bad it’s good”. Grifter #14 is just terrible enough to bore every person who reads it. – Tom Devine
Fantastic Four #1
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artists: Mark Bagley, Mark Farmer
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
20 pages, $2.99
I know Tom Devine absolutely loved Jonathan Hickman’s recently completed run on the Fantastic Four. I’ve read a couple of Hardcover collections so far and I’m unimpressed– but like I said to Tom in the comments section for that particular week’s IMJ Capsule Reviews™ column, that doesn’t mean I wont be impressed as I read more. And even if I’m not, diversity and divergent opinions are what makes the world go around.
What I do know from reading Hickman’s Fantastic Four– he went to great pains to make them full-bodied, well-rounded characters… People who were still people– despite having fantastic powers. With Hickman’s run lauded by so many (unlike many other favorable reviewers across the Net, Mr. Devine was not paid or cajoled with free comics or other perks to give his genuine opinion), you’d think new writer Matt Fraction would continue at least some of Hickman’s established character traits… Especially since we’ve been mentioning for weeks that these “new” MarvelNOW! comics aren’t really “new” books– just continuations of other comics with different creative teams, some slightly tweaked series’ titles and new issue numbering.
Nope. Matt Fraction took that #1 on the cover of his Fantastic Four seriously. No continuation of Hickman-penned characters or themes here. In fact, Fraction took his duties so assiduously– he went so far as to turn the Fantastic Four into such IDIOTS that Marvel could have easily renamed the comic Fantastic Dumb-Asses. And yes, I apply both IDIOT and DUMB ASS to Marvel’s previous smarty-pants– Reed Richards. (Super-intelligent daughter Valeria only shows up in, like, half of one panel– so I have no idea what horrible plans Fraction has for her.)
Fraction’s dumbing-down of the series is so jarring, I actually whipped my iPad violently back and forth in hopes of making the digital contents of this comic rearrange themselves into something more believable, palatable and entertaining. Reading Fantastic Four #1 was like walking into a time warp– with all the characters Hickman had carefully developed going back to their monotone, basic stereotypes. Which leads to this burning question, “Does this sound like Marvel Re-Evolution to you?”
Things get so bad, when Mr. Fantastic realizes his powers are decaying and killing him– he all but demands the ENTIRE family go on a year-long trip through uncharted time and space in a remodeled spaceship/time machine. Yes, he also wants to take the kids… Including a distraught Franklin– who experiences a nightmarish vision of their future early on in the book, crying to his Mom, “I just don’t wanna go into space, okay?” pages before Reed offers up the idea.
Overlooking that this “space family” concept is lifted directly from Lost in Space (you know they’re going to get lost) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (albeit on a much smaller scale), it’s just plain dumb. Reed assures the concerned, tentative Sue that everything will be just fine and safe… Because the time machine aspects of the ship will make certain their year-long trip will only keep them away from home for a few seconds of Earth time. And Sue– now a card-carrying member of Fraction’s Dumb Ass Club– accepts Reed’s patronizing platitudes… And never bothers to bring up Franklin’s vision– even though, you know, her son is a beyond Omega-Level Mutant and sensing stuff is kinda one of his things.
It also pays to remember this promise of safety is coming from a previously intelligent guy who lives in a universe where two people can’t get married or even go to dinner without something woefully cataclysmic happening.
Speaking of going to dinner– a date between Johnny Storm and a fetching young woman goes exactly according to his old stereotype… As do the other vignettes Fraction uses to construct his version of the Fantastic Four. The art sure is nice– as you would expect anything from Mark Bagley to be. Excellently colored by Paul Mounts too. (Just wish these guys would work on better comic books with better writers.)
Too bad the narrative and characters portrayed within are such travesties. Makes you want to launch a Class Action Lawsuit against Marvel for mislabling the comic “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” Yeah, I know I’ve used a variation of that snipe before– but given Fraction’s horrifying retread of a bullshit comic here, I couldn’t help myself.
The following rating is a token for the art, only. – Ian MacMillan