Review: Essential Fantastic Four Vol. 5; by Stan & Jack (& the Johns)

Essential Fantastic Four, Vol. 5Essential Fantastic Four, Vol. 5 by Stan Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FACK!!!! I just deleted a whole DAY of review/summary on this. GODDAMNIT!!!!

SHIT FUCK HELL BALLS!

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Anyhow…we see all the villains, from Doom to Annihilus.
We see Inhumans.
Space, Negative Zone, finally naming the baby.
Thing gets turned back into Ben Grimm, but quits the team and breaks up with Alicia Masters!!!!
Johnny loses Crystal, who has to return to the Inhumans or die from Earth pollution.
There’s a Magneto/Namor team up against the FF!
100th issue extravaganza!
Kirby leaves after nearly 10 YEARS!!!!and over 100 issues.
Romita Sr. and John Buscema take over, and I love what they do. Buscema’s facial work is great! almost as good as Lono’s at the Strip Club! BOOM!
Lots of cliffhangers, the womenfolk gain a whole lot more respect, and the characters all grow.

Most importantly, Reed transforms from a misogynyst bully dictator into a quasi-pacificst scientific genius family man. This means, I hope, that Stan Lee either grew up, or wrote Reed’s character to change with the times, as the later we get in the FF, the more that Stan’s writing reflects real life worries (space, Cold War, treatment of people who are different, Nuclear Apocalypse, Family life and concerns). Stan grew a lot between the 4 years covered here from Vol 4-5.

This is truly essential. Worth it. Even if you only skim it Mike.

Oh well, my other review was too long anyhow.

Adding cool pics from the book to Shallow Reader’s Group!

I had a bigger review but oh well…concise is better I think.


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Review: Essential FF Vol. 4 by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Essential Fantastic Four, Vol. 4Essential Fantastic Four, Vol. 4 by Stan Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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OK so that was a gigantic collection, spanning about 2 years of FF (67-68 I think). There’s good, there’s bad, there’s ugly.

Good: It’s fun to see Lee/Kirby original work.
Bad: Stan Lee has a great imagination, but his writing of characters was pretty stale and repetitive.
Ugly: The sexism runs rampant too often in this book, and Reed’s middle name should be changed to misogynist probable wife-beater.

I’m the first person who knows you can look at history with today’s standards, but in this case, it’s the late 60s, not 1953 or anything. Women’s rights were happening, music, love, revolution, counter-culture, and Reed Richards seems to be written as the old fuddy duddy who knows best for everyone, including keeping his wife in check. There’s insults, threats of violence, and condescending remarks all the time. I’m going to hope that it’s just the character of Reed Richards who’s supposed to be a Hank Pym-level asshole here…otherwise I think it makes you wonder about ole’ Stan the Man…

Fun things: Black Panther’s first meeting of Black Bolt (all 3 Illuminati together for the first time) and the rest of the Inhumans.
Spider-Man, Daredevil and Thor throwdown against the Y-chromosome FFers.
We see classic villains, like Galactus, the Mad Thinker, Wizard, Annihilus, and for the first time, Psycho-Man.
We get to visit the microverse for the first time.
We see Silver Surfer save Earth, after warnings from Uatu the Watcher.
We see the original Punisher (a robotic herald of Galactus, after Surfer was freed).
We see Maximus the Mad take over Black Bolt’s Inhuman kingdom.
We also see, Sue gets preggo! And the birth of the as-yet-unnamed boy.
We see Reed finally cure Ben, only for Grimmy to have to chose between life forever without powers or forever as the Thing…

Thing is bi-polar; he either talks about Clobberin’ Time or he’s mopey about how Alicia Masters won’t love him if she could see who he is…like Umm…dude? She’s blind, she’s felt the face…she knows.

Johnny likes cars, and making out with Crystal of the Inhumans.
Sue spends the majority of the book on bed rest, and Crystal sits with her and holds her hand…
Only near the end does the sensible thing happen, Crystal joins the FF in Sue’s place after the baby is born.

So that’s it in a nutshell…the stories themselves can be fun, but the dialogue is terrible. Concepts on a cosmic scale, no problem, but basic human interactions? Don’t think Stan figured out those yet…
However, we get Jack Kirby’s fantastic (pun intended!) artwork. Seeing the classics all by his hand is kinda very fun.

Sadly, it’s in black and white and on newsprint, so you lose out on a lot of the real fun.

I’d give this 4 stars for retro fun, icons of the business, and big events in FF history…I’d take away at least 1 star for the borderline misogynistic abuse that Reed throws at Sue (funny part being, Johnny isn’t that way towards Crystal, and Ben sure isn’t that way towards Alicia, so I suppose that would give more credibility to the theory that Stan wrote Reed as a gigantic douche-hole on purpose, and that he himself isn’t a terrible woman-hater).

It did drag a bit at times, and I did skim some stuff, like dialogue heavy parts, to get to the action, or the big moments, or the characters visiting…
But if you’re inclined, it’s definitely classic. (However, I think you have to be in the right mood for it…I almost put it down a few times…but it got better after the first 25% was done…)


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Review: Ultimate FF Vol. 4 – Inhuman; by Mark Millar (and Mike Carey)

Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 4: InhumanUltimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 4: Inhuman by Mike Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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OK so we’ve got 2 stories here: Think Tank, by Mike Carey (which is the weaker of the 2) and Inhumans (The Annual, by Mark Millar).

I guess the Mad Thinker Ultimate form is this girl in the story Rhona, who was rejected from the Baxter Building, and found out Reed got her spot instead (because her Psych consult was off the charts and she was a nutter). She is nuts because she lobotomizes her brother and then turns him into a robot or some shit? So she sets some trap in the BB…Reed figures it out, it’s kinda boring, and compared to the high quality the series was on so far, this was kind of a let down…the only interesting thing is the cliffhanger reveal where Reed is contacted by an alternate dimension…Reed!

I also didn’t love the art by Jae Lee.

The Mark Millar piece, about the Inhumans, was a bit better, introducing them to the Ultimate Universe. Johnny falls for Crystal, who’s being pursued by guards from Attilan. He tries to save her, gets his ass kicked, but she fixes him…because apparently the Inhumans are 10K yrs ahead of us, and avoid us because we’re like howler monkeys to them.
There’s a funny bit where Crystal gets taken back, and Johnny’s like “Oh no, how will we find her?” and Ben’s like “boy you’re really dumb aren’t you?” and then points to Lockjaw (the gigantic telepathic transporting Dog…) So they crash Attilan, we meet the Ultimate versions of Medusa, Black Bolt, Gorgon, and the others (including Maximus, who seems exactly the same).

A stupid fight ensues, and as such, Attlian must be abandoned, as the FF have ruined it. So Black Bolt levels it and they leave…the end.

Really, this was a big let down after Warren Ellis’ last 2 volumes…I just feel like it jumped all over the place, and the story really didn’t interest me much at all, nor did it explain anything, and the stereotypical caricatures of each member returned…

Rather disappointing, but not quite low enough for 2 stars…a generous 2.5+ rounded up?

Skippable.


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Review: New Avengers Vol. 3 – Other Worlds; by Jonathan Hickman

New Avengers, Vol. 3: Other WorldsNew Avengers, Vol. 3: Other Worlds by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, so this is about 3.5 stars for me…it’s kind of repetitive for the first half, because apparently the audience cannot grasp that the variables might change, but the outcome is the same, unless we see different Earth lineups of various Illuminati doing it. The art is OK, it works better in the Dr. Strange stuff than the rest…the Rags Morales stuff in the second half I prefer, it’s got fewer loose lines and more realism to it.

What I loved, is that the gang is getting info from Black Swan and pretty much having to guess what she means, everyone eventually figured out what she means…except for Tony Stark…he gets quite pissy about it, and I love that Reed, T’Challa, Beast all get it before he does like it is super obvious. It was a needed touch of humour, or we risk running into DC grit no joke territory…

Dr. Strange embarks to another plane of existence or something…to literally sell his soul…

Black Bolt kinda just stands there…as we know, but his brother Maximus seems like a sharp dude…however…didn’t he release the Terragen Mists into Earth? Shouldn’t he be like a super villain or something?? Or am I totally wrong….even he gets to talk down to Iron Stark.

We see that through observing, there is the same outcome, except one world, which is run by some heroes who are a cross between the Authority and the Justice Society/League. There’s a Sun God (Superman/Apollo), the dark knight (guy actually wears a helmet a la jousty days of ole) as the Midnighter/other Dark Knight fellow…Batsomethingerother? A speedster, who is Flash/Atomica from Crime Syndicate, a Green Alien who is Martian Manhunter, and a dude who’s a sorcerer and has Dr. Fate’s helmet…

I’m entirely unsure if this is intentionally a nod to these various characters, a knock, or Hickman just actually came up with them…

Anyhow, these guys seem to have done the impossible and fought off/survived the Incursion…may be the key for our Earth…

Oh, and Namor finally shows up, having pretty much said just gimme a shout when it’s time to smash shit up, I’m sick of the brainy think-a-thon. Which I also love. He’s nonchalant about it, figuring que sera sera….he and Panther then have an enlightening discussion which reveals Namor the philosopher…

All in all I enjoyed it a lot, but feel like we didn’t move very far forward with the narrative. Sure there’s some more revealed about Black Swan, so we know she’s something to be unsure of, but still…the last page left a great image for us, and Morales’ art is superb. Makes me jazzed to read it.


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Review: Indestructible Hulk Vol. 4 – Humanity Bomb; by Mark Waid

Indestructible Hulk, Vol. 4: Humanity BombIndestructible Hulk, Vol. 4: Humanity Bomb by Mark Waid
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

***Green Theme Buddy Reads, with my Shallow homies. If I have to explain how this fits, you are what Professor HULK (ie. Jeff) would call an ‘asshat’***


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I took this out of the library months ago, but Vol. 3 had yet to be ordered…luckily, the Digital Copy in every Marvel Hardcover allows you to get a copy online thru Marvel.com…and then read in Comixology. So this was my first full volume on Comixology, and my first read on my iPad! YAY! No paper cuts! And when I dropped it in the tub, I only got electrocuted a wee bit, but there was no ruined pages!

So at the end of our last adventure, HULK had repaired time like 99% accurately…by smashing the shit out of it. This time, we’re in the Inhumanity Event, where Black Bolt had his hand forced, to release Terragen Mists on Earth, in order to repopulate the latent Inhuman population after Thanos destroyed the Inhumans? I think? So the mists target people who’s DNA has any tiny marker gene for Inhumans…so if your great great granny whored it up with one…you’re fucked.

Cue Banner, working on his Bruce saves the Earth stuff, only to see Tony ‘Asshat’ Stark (copyright Jeff) beat him to it, then Reed Richards, then the Hanks (Pym and McCoy). Shockingly, he’s ANGRY as fuck about it.
Cue up Doc Randall Jessup, one of Banner’s super-scientist lab assistants. He’s apparently a Zen master, who just tells Bruce to chew some gum and count to 120 and gives him some mumbo jumbo…turns out, he talks Bruce down from HULK-ing out!

We get a short flashback to Jessup’s sad backstory, then forward to Jessup and Banner stealing invisibility cloaks to go join a SHIELD mission that Maria Hill told him to stay out of…but of course, no such luck. Jessup again keeps Hulk at bay long enough to save everyone, and manages to impress Banner tremendously.

Next up, Banner returns to the lab to see Asshat Pym and Asshat Stark trying to figure out the Terragen Mists…Banner tells them to fuck off out of his lab, they act super condescending, before he points out that he just happens to be the expert on radiation and its effects on people (Gamma Rays…Hulk…ringing any bells there Stark?) Then Tony gives Bruce 24 hrs to finish his solution.

They show up early, and bring Hank #2 with them (McCoy, Beast). Hank 2 isn’t an asshat, he’s just cautious, and I like that Waid didn’t give him the same personality of a phallus that he did to Pym and Stark. Beast would relate more to Banner on the effects of changes to the self than the other 2.

Of course, the name of this volume is Humanity BOMB…so yes, Bruce has built a BOMB to save HUMANITY from INHUMANITY! See how easily that works? If Waid comes up with his own titles, he deserves a raise. Of course the asshats overreact and that leads to HULK freaking out and running off with the BOMB.
Way to go Iron McAsshat!

So the Hanks and Asshat chase him, and Pym breaks his arm trying to wrestle the bomb from Hulk, and Hulk gets it back…amidst all the chaos, Hank #2 asks the simplest question: Tony, what if the bomb works?
Then goes on to cry Mea Culpa, that he and the Asshats were arrogant not to trust Bruce, and leaves it up to Iron McAsshy to decide what to do…or not do…

So…ya. Long story short, Bomb goes off, freezes time to see if the Terragen Mists will dissipate or lose their effects…turns out…it doesn’t work…but only because it was made by Black Bolt and not on Earth, so different physics and such. In the aftermath, there’s some explosions, and Hulk and the 3 musketeers save as many as they can, and then they all pseudo apologize for being dicks, but I think only McCoy can be pardoned for this one.

Remember Jessup? ya…things don’t go so well for him…Terragen Mists and whatnot…turns out his Zen powers end up counteracting the Hulk’s Anger…which is difficult for Banner when shit goes south…he has to resort to more basic methods…

Then there’s a run in with some super evil scientists experimenting on Terragnen Mist victims…including trying Jessup, but Hulk and the team won’t stand for it…SMASH, team up with Jessup’s Inhuman Monster form, yadda yadda yadda…people die, no more team for Banner at SHIELD, Hill says she might have to “Terminate” Him…he smirks.

Cue Cliffhanger Ending involving Bruce Banner!!!!

Then there’s the Annual, which has Tony and Bruce going after a mad scientist on an island in the middle of nowhere that’s been totally weaponized…this guy was big on influencing both of them to go into weapons work with the military (the way for smart dudes to get $$) even though he wasn’t a nice dude. It’s a decent enough team up, even though Tony is an asshat to Bruce most of the time, they’re actually closer than many think…

This takes place BEFORE the events in Vol. 4 I believe…

So all in all, a solid volume, but it focuses more on the lab people and Jessup, but I think that’s to show how Bruce holds himself responsible for everything bad that happens, even though he can’t be. The stuff with the Hanks and Asshat is the stronger stuff in the volume, and the art is a step in the right direction after volume 3, but it still doesn’t compare to Yu’s volume 1 work.

Sadly, this is also the end of the series…WAHHHH!!! HULK SAD! I’m guessing there’s another one to pick up, but…Waid had a great handle on Banner and Hulk, and I hope that’s not it for him writing it. I also love the interactions with others, epsecially Daredevil and Iron Man and the Hanks.


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