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: Marvel Knights 4 – Vol. 1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Marvel Knights 4, Volume 1: Wolf at the DoorMarvel Knights 4, Volume 1: Wolf at the Door by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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OK so issues 1-4 = 5 Stars. 5-7 = 3 stars…ergo, 4 stars. (3.5 really, but I enjoyed the first half a fair bit)

This premise could have fallen on it’s face and been played for laughs, but instead it focuses on the family, the bonds, the connection, and the reality of what can happen to anyone.

The FF goes broke, in the wake of the US gov’t stopping all science funding to the Baxter Building, and on top of that, one of their accountants stole their savings (also Tony Stark, Hammerhead, and some others). So they’re literally destitute.

They move into a dive hotel in Manhattan, and they realize they need to get jobs. Sue, the rational one, is first to get one, as an English teacher at a High School (thanks to Alicia Masters, Thing’s on again off again GF). Thing gets a construction job after saving some workers from a falling slab of concrete. Johnny and Reed are a little slower on the uptake…

Johnny realizes he can’t act, his agent doesn’t want him, and his airhead supermodel girlfriend is now seeing Keanu Reeves instead…(there’s a few Keanu jokes). It takes him a while, but he has an epiphany, and ends up seriously training and studying to join the FDNY…which is a cool idea.

Reed is so lost he doesn’t know what to do, and tries to think himself out of the problem…only issue is, he forgets to pick Franklin up from school and Sue chews him out for it, telling him he needs to accept the situation, and do something about it.

He finally does, and goes to the Unemployment office and has some eye opening chats with other recent people to lose jobs, and has the clerk about to close the office when he’s next in line…but of course, she was saved by the FF in the past, and so she gets him a job…

As an IT Temp for a Law Firm. Yup. You think your IT is slumming it, when they show up in their Assassin’s Creed Hoodie and Big Gulp and fix everything in 10 minutes? Yup.
So they’re all settling into lives as they are now, and after initial reservations and worries, they of course realize that it’s making them closer as a family and that’s all that matters.

I have to admit, I am turning into a sucker for the emotional stuff in comics, when it’s done well. Case in point: Reed walking to work one day, and there’s a crowd because some jumper is about to do it…so Reed stretches himself up and just talks to him (actually lets him talk mostly). Finds out that the man’s teenage son died in a car crash, his wife divorced him 6 months later, and he recently began coughing up blood, only to discover that he had advanced throat cancer and was going to die.
Reed asked if he was afraid of dying, and he said no, just dying alone, because he had no one…
Of course, Reed puts himself in the man’s shoes, thinks about Franklin dying, Sue leaving him, and being alone…then tells him he won’t be alone, and pulls out a scrap of paper and writes his number on it for the man. Tells him to call when he thinks he’s near the end, and Reed will be there to hold his hand. (Even if he’s in the middle of fighting Doom he tells the man).
OK I blubbered, it’s very dusty in here…allergens and such…(Anne, you really shouldn’t have fapped all the Kleenex away).

The second half of the book is about aliens in the backwoods of New Jersey…kinda lame, but there’s decent stuff about Reed trusting in Ben and Sue and so he doesn’t have to worry. Other than that, not much.


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Review: Ultimate FF Vol. 5 – Crossover; by Mark Millar

Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 5: CrossoverUltimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 5: Crossover by Mark Millar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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This is a solid 3.5 Star book that introduced a bunch of new possibilities, but docked back to 3 because it just abandoned a lot of what I loved about the series under Ellis’ watch.

Mark Millar is back in control here, and that’s a good thing, because Mike Carey was by far the weakest link in the chain (well, when you have Bendis, Millar, Ellis, Carey; one of these things is NOT like the other…).

I found the last volume quite a disappointment, but this one is an improvement, though I still find that Warren Ellis’ run was the peak of things for me so far.
Art Duties fall to Greg Land, and while he does some good work, I believe I enjoyed the Kubert brothers stuff the best so far…for this series at least.

So the FF is back in time chasing Chrono-Bandits…yup, looks like they did have a precedent before Mark Waid threw them into Indestructible HULK’s way during his run. (I KNEW I’d seen them before today!) Not the same people but the same idea. They threatened to kill the first creature that crawled out of the oceans as a precursor to Humanity….Millar wisely had Reed explain that would probably mean none of them ever exist, so we didn’t completely need to savage it.

We see here that the FF now has a name, they’re out and about, and working alongside the Ultimates (who don’t seem to give a shit about them, ahh I miss grumpy dick Cap!)
We pick up the story after that with Reed talking to the hologram Reed that contacted him at the end of last Volume’s Think Tank storyline…well Reed has a portal he’s constructed here, with the help of Holo-Reed, who even lets him meet Franklin (as a hologram).

There’s some problems for me by this point though…they’ve oversexed Sue at this point (no doubt a Mark Millar action) and Reed is slowly reverting to his driven scientist who ignores everyone persona from the regular Marvel U…
So Reed uses his machine to go thru dimensions to the other world…and finds out that he was duped…by ZOMBIE REED! and the ZOMBIE FF! On this world, the Heroes are all zombies who feast on human flesh…luckily, one “hero” still lives, who saves Reed, and then manages to explain what happened…Reed is more like our Ultimate version we love, and the rest of the story proceeds in a way that makes a lot more sense to me, just as a parallel universe activity, with a cool ending.

(Here’s a hint; Jeff will NOT like what goes down between Ben and a certain someone Green).

By this time we’ve done nearly half the book…and jump right into the next story…the return of Mary Storm! Mother of Sue and Johnny! (who was long thought dead but was only just working on a very important research project.)

We get some stuff about her being a bit of a bitch, careerist (she’s kind of a female Reed Richards from Marvel 616 but sexy, in a hot librarian way) terrible mother. I don’t love the art here, as they’ve totally changed everyone’s appearance, and not for the better.

So turns out, that Momma Storm was busy discovering Atlantis! (Ultimate U doesn’t have it) and she needs the FF help to go deep in the ocean and check shit out…Sue sees right through her and I loved that Sue’s not a moron, and calls her on her using them, and agrees only to be done with the woman ASAP.

Well it’s Atlantis, and we can’t have that without everyone’s favourite Mer-Mutant-Mariner! In this version, he’s still a gigantic dickhead, and still has a boner for Sue (good taste for sure, Ultimate Sue is hot hot hot!). Fighting ensues…not a surprise…But we see that Reed has built another machine (shocking how just a few issues ago he was all about the rules and teamwork, and now he’s built a dimensional portal, communicated with parallel Reed, and made a gigantic robot combining all the FF powers! (called Fantastic-05 of course, because apparently Millar didn’t get the memo that Ultimate FF mock the shit out of stupid names for things, and we the readers LOVE them for it!).

So Namor is subdued, but turns out, not for long, and long story short, he agrees to leave things in one piece if he gets a piece…of Sue! Dude, I kinda like your borderline rape-y creep blackmail style (this is Mark Millar, so don’t be at all surprised kiddies, at least this isn’t as sick as that) This just happens to be for a kiss, not a Lono special with Cheese.

So all’s well again…except we’ve totally abandoned most of the characteristics of the personalities, they don’t look the same, they are becoming more Ultimates(y) ie. dickish…reverting to stupid things, and we don’t get the same science or explanations, and the relationships are put to the backburner by Millar, who is more in his Michael Bay form here than I’d like…however, he does do that stuff well, and the Zombies & Namor stuff is fun, so it’s not a total mess.

All in all, I’m worried that the series peaked with Ellis’ ending, I just hope they can level things off and not regress much more…if they turn to in-fighting and acting like assholes, I’ll just stop reading…plus, we need more DOOM!


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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: Ultimate FF Vol. 3 – N-Zone; by Warren Ellis

Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 3: N-ZoneUltimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 3: N-Zone by Warren Ellis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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OK, so Volume 3 again is helmed by Warren Ellis, who for me, has done nearly the best sustained job of writing Reed Richards that I can recall. He gets just how smart this guy is, but also in the Ultimate version, makes him have a slightly more in-tune with other humans vibe. (If I can put it this way, most people write Reed like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory in the first season, whereas Ellis writes him more like Leonard, who’s still super smart, but gets the social contract a bit more…) After our adventures with Victor Van Damme last volume, here we focus on the N-Zone (negative zone).

The science in this book is fascinating, but done on a level where anyone who reads it slow-ly can un-der-stand. I love that Reed takes the time to try and metaphorically explain things to Ben, who fully admits that he’s clueless, but I love that this Reed cares enough to try.

Adam (& Andy) Kubert is back on art duties in this volume, and one thing that jumped out at me, is that he totally captures just how sad Ben Grimm’s eyes are. There might be 5 panels in the book where he doesn’t have that sad distant look in them, and it’s brilliant…Ben is completely cut off from his humanity, unlike the others who still maintain human forms. However, a small conversation with the usually shallow Johnny kinda hits home for him: Ben wanted to play football, and Johnny says OK so you wanted to be broke and washed up at 30 with bum knees to score a few goals? Dude, you punched out a Sea Monster the other day. You get to be a Superhero! Are you really going to be that sad about not playing ball?

It’s things like that, this Fantastic Foursome are not just cardboard cutouts or generic FF settings, these are actual young people, who’ve undergone a huge change in their lives, and are mostly excited about what that change presents them with…Sue is strong, fiercely intelligent biologist in her own right, not just ‘Reed’s Girlfriend and Johnny’s Sister’ or the kids’ mom. Johnny is the young one of the group, not tremendously different from the regular version, but he’s still excited and eager, and not as jaded or douche-y as he can be. Ben as I’ve mentioned before, is an actual person, not just a dumbass with catchphrases (though we do see the etymology of his famous rallying cry, which is neat), he’s self-aware, mournful for his lost humanity, but also a strong and loyal protector to these people.

We also see humour that’s not just canned stale jokes, these guys rip into Reed for his naming of things Fantasti-anything, and as a result, Johnny gets to name the Shuttle, which of course, he decides on ‘Awesome’ which he and Ben love, and the other 2 are mortified about.

The science of the N-Zone is handled in a intelligent way, so that we get what is being talked about; I feel like in the regular FF we sometimes are forced to take things for granted and just accept them, whereas here, there’s an effort to understand, like how it’s impossible for Sue to be invisible, yet she is…and how Johnny suffers some adverse side-effects from using his powers, but we see a sort of evolution/change in them as things go on.
We see just how FANTASTIC they really are, and can be, when put into the hands of a smart writer who’s engaged with them. If I knew this title was so good, I’d have told everyone who didn’t like FF to read this. It really makes them fresh and interesting and people I care about.

Of course, what would a trip be into the N-Zone without contact with another life form in a new universe…this one is called Nihil, or as Ben calls him E-Vill. (Annihilus of our universe) the first contact is done very well, I wish I had faith our own first contact would ever be so intelligent…
math forming the basis of communication, the extreme excitement from Reed that nearly blinds him to the dangers that Sue and Ben seem to sense a bit more…it’s just so easy to read this without ever thinking the’re stupid, or the writing is off, or you’re being forced to accept too much weird stuff.

The of course, there’s the final action sequence, straight out of Con-Air, and I loved it for that. General Ross as mad as hell, until Reed tosses him a piece of space tech from N-Zone, and then his proclamation of love for young Richards.

We also see Ben missing his family, the public reveal of the team, a bit more of Reed’s non-contact with his family, and the bonds of this group getting stronger…

I really was so impressed and enjoyed this, it all came together for me, even if it’s not a 5 star book, I enjoyed the hell out of it like one. So what more do you really want in a book but to enjoy it and not have any problems?
(OK, one prob…that was the last of Ellis on this book…SAD FACE!)


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Review: Ultimate FF Vol. 2 – Doom; by Warren Ellis

Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 2: DoomUltimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 2: Doom by Warren Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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More tardy Foursome Shallow Buddyreads!

Volume 2 picks up on the hunt for Victor Van Damme, and we discover that he’s had to construct himself a suit of armour to cover his decaying body. He’s based in a squatters area in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Before we get the first showdown before him and the Four, there’s some other stuff to take care of…first off: Warren Ellis is writing!
He’s got a different style than Bendis and Millar, less for the masses, a little more intelligent, but still highly enjoyable. (That isn’t a knock on Bendis or Millar either, I very much enjoy both men’s work).

But here we get explanations of scientific questions about the four that many of us would ask if we ever had the chance: Does Ben still use the potty? (Yes, but it’s not pretty) How strong is he? (7 Tons of psi per hand!) What happens to Reed’s organs when he shifts shapes? (Turns out he doesn’t HAVE any anymore, just some lung-like remnants that oxygenates the blood!)

Very cool stuff. I really liked it.
Victor builds a bunch of robot insects to attack the Baxter Building, which lets Reed know he’s still alive, and he’s got the codes that he changed before the test that changed them all. Reed wants it at all costs, but first, they need to survive the attack. We get to see Reed as the helpless one here, with Johnny and Ben fighting and strong, Sue strong in the use of her powers (and mind, she’s an internal biologist!) and pushes herself to the edge many times.

We also see some jokes about names, like the Human Matchbox, and the Asbestos Thing (Ben isn’t affected by heat in this version, and is also bulletproof (last volume)). We also get introduced to the Fantasti-car, which Reed built at 13, using info Tony Stark put on the internet and his own brain.
Ben and Johnny mock the everloving shit out of Reed, calling everything Fantasti-something. It’s a nice way to develop characters, and also keep Reed from being too high and mighty above everyone else, which was something I always found off-putting about Marvel U Reed a lot of the time.

Sue’s also no slouch intellectually, which I greatly enjoy!

This all leads to a breakout where the Four go after Victor, and we see a showdown, only broken up by the arrival of the Army, and then the realization that he’s got diplomatic immunity…as a Danish citizen…
However, we see a bit more anger and action from Reed here, so it’s a different direction, but I will for sure be following along with this one.


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Review: Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 1 – The Fantastic; by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Millar

Ultimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 1: The FantasticUltimate Fantastic Four, Vol. 1: The Fantastic by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Better late than never…my library was just a little slow on the delivery, but I now have a stack of 9 FF volumes to get through for our Foursome Shallow Buddy Read…from LAST week…my bad…

Anyhow, here we go! Welcome to the Ultimate Marvel Universe, a place which varies slightly from the normal Marvel U, and which allows us to tell familiar stories with slight twists…

Here, Reed Richards is still a super smart kid, Ben Grimm is a big jock who defends Reed from bullies in exchange for help with Trigonometry homework, and Sue and Johnny Storm are kids of Dr. Storm, the head of the Baxter Building.
Reed’s father (Gary, not Nathaniel) here is a bit of a dick, mad that Reed breaks the blender and other devices…eventually, the Baxter Building program for super genius scientists recruits him at the Science Fair, and off he goes, but even there, there’s not much love from the family still (mom is OK, but dad isn’t).

Sue is a smart one here, Reed is in love from day one, and Victor (Van Damme, not Von Doom – though I hope it means he’s great at Kung Fu and does Volvo commercials!) is his main rival. Mole Man is a professor at the BB who’s fired for doing human DNA work and General Ross (Thunderbolt?) and Dr. Storm fire him for immoral work.

Johnny’s his usual self, a bit younger, and Ben just happens to come visit one day when they’re doing a big experiment…it goes wrong, and they all wake up in different places with variations of their powers (Earth – Ben, Air – Sue, Fire – Johnny, and Water – Reed (makes more sense than Elastic)) However, Victor is still missing…

There’s a Mole Man creature who shows up to attack the city, and Ben and Johnny dive right into ass-kickery, Reed a little less so…they then discover that Sue was found by Mole Man, and there’s some awkward shit there…

We’re left with the whereabouts of Victor still unknown and the army concerned about what the four have become, especially Ben…

So this is a great variation on the origin story, and a fun place to jump into a series that can alienate by being too high concept and science-y for some of us troglodytes, but it also corrects the blatant sexism of the early 60s FF when they weren’t quite sure how to deal with Sue…

I’m looking forward to continuing the series, and cannot wait to see how Victor will manifest himself. I’m also happy to see the comedy and action mix, courtesy of Bendis and Millar, who wrote this together! Now, onto Vol. 2!

This should have been the required read for Foursome Week…great fun read that’s not too fluffy or too heavy.


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Review: Fantastic Four Vol. 6 (Foundation) by Jonathan Hickman

Fantastic Four, Volume 6Fantastic Four, Volume 6 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think the best way to describe the final volume of this collection would be disjointed. It’s all over the place, trying to do way too many things at once, and none of the stories flow. It really is a bunch of individual issues tied together because they were all published in the same 6 months.

There’s good stories, boring ones, some interesting ideas, and some very touching ones.

Feels like this just got thrown together, or Hickman just had a bunch of ideas he wasn’t done with.

1)Reed and Nathaniel go forward in time to see what becomes of the FF, and it actually leads to a rather touching moment.

2)Parallel Universe Reed works for Hitler, who won WWII, ends up becoming all-powerful a-la Doom, and leads into the Council of Reeds…

3)Parallel Doom creates his own universe, and it isn’t quite what he bargained for; is saved by unlikely child.

4)FF performs brain surgery on Willy Lumpkin. (Marvel has now had 3 different instances of shrinking to do brain surgery in less than 2yrs: Hank Pym on Daredevil; Hank McCoy on Broo; Reed and FF on Willy…are they trying to suggest something?)

5) Tie-up of the parallel universe Reed saved being moved to the future or something so they never have to worry about not having somewhere to be…

All in all some interesting ideas but just so much going on…

I do like Hickman’s attempts to make things cosmic large, and I do like that each member becomes stronger as individual characters.

Not the place to start with FF though, and I do feel like Fraction’s Marvel Now stuff isn’t quite as good.

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Review: Fantastic Four Volume 5- Forever; by Jonathan Hickman, art by Steve Epting

Fantastic Four, Volume 5Fantastic Four, Volume 5 by Jonathan Hickman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK Hickman, your convoluted and cosmos-spanning storylines finally come to a head here. It was just about worth all the headaches so that I knew what the F*** was going on.

There were quite a few HOLY S*** moments, when I was actually like:

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I feel like a lot of people don’t like Hickman because he operates on a cosmic scale, multiverses, layered stories that take a while for the payoff, and I’m usually not interested in a story taking THAT much effort (but I’m not going to say if there’s more than a couple words with 3+ syllables that I’ll stop reading…I mean I am somewhat edu-mah-kay-ted), but this was actually worth the effort.

(Shallow Reading friends, I can’t help but notice not many people have read this one/arc. If you could get all 5 volumes together at once, I think it might be worth, but I think I’ve read this over 2 years or so…)

Long story short: The Earth is being attacked on multiple fronts: The Kree, Annihilus, Multiverse Reed Richards(es?). The FF is without Johnny, who died stopping the Negative Zone forces of Annihilus from attacking Earth; and he’s been replaced by Spider-Man. (I like this because Hickman reminds people that Spidey isn’t just a punchline machine; he’s actually a brain to rival the likes of Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner, et al.)

If you look at the cover, you’ll note…Johnny is on the cover.
So….HE’S SOMEHOW NOT GOING TO BE DEAD LONG!!!

Which is a shame, as his death/sacrifice was done very well. This would fully support Sam’s belief that character deaths in comics now are pointless. I’d have to agree, but this explanation didn’t take a year-18 months to get to…we pretty much had it less than a few months later.

So here’s the deal: Galactus tells Reed that there’s an evil coming that’s so powerful it’s bigger than him. Sue suggests this might just be Galactus tricking them…Big G-Unit says nope, if this evil arrives, the universe dies…just a lot faster than if he’s in-charge. I like the little detail like that, which acknowledges that Galactus still does what he does. Big G-Unit gives RR a device sorta like a pager for when shit hits the fan.

Meanwhile, the FF-Kids transport the Baxter Building out of NYC, where the attack is coming (one of these days, I swear, it’s going to be in Toledo, Ohio or Bumfk, Iowa. – It almost makes me go back and give the Siege Event more stars because things happened in small town Oklahoma and not NYC.)

Reed sends Spidey to go check on the wee ones…he runs into Annihilus fanatics trying to open the gate the the Negative Zone…and…it opens…UHOH!!!

But then, who should be standing on the other side of the gate?

Johnny freakin’ Storm.

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We then get a whole issue+ setting up what happened to Johnny, and how we ended up where we are. (I appreciate the explanation, which actually helps to prevent it from feeling cheap with his ‘death’). Suffice it to say, Johnny is in pretty decent shape…(view spoiler)

The fight between the Kree and Johnny’s Storm-mada (You like that one? I just invented it) isn’t going well, and there’s all kinds of space wreckage going to hit Earth, so not looking good…Reed and Sue go summon Galactus, as they think this was the Evil/death he spoke of…turns out, it wasn’t…

Someone summons the Celestials (Gigantic Super-Gods), and just as Big G-Unit is telling everyone that shit hasn’t hit the fan yet, he’s like, oh nevermind, my bad…

Galactus defeats one of the Celestials, but they they go all Voltron/Super-Power-Ranger/Ultimate Optimus Prime Transformer, and merge into a gigantic one. Even Big G-Unit can’t handle that…

There’s no chance to defeat Super-Mega-Power Celestial, except that…oh wait…there is. Remember that Council of Reeds? The Reed Richardses from all the multiverses, they got together and figured out this would happen, and prepared mega-weapon on every Earth. It’s time for this one’s turn…good thing Reed’s Dad Nathaniel is there to tell him to let loose…They get a great hit in…but, that ain’t gonna cut it.

The only thing keeping the destruction at bay is Sue…who shields Reed and everyone (oh the whole EARTH I mean…she’s a badass lady…no wonder Namor loves her (see corny line on page 2 or 3)) just in time for the cavalry to arrive…and the cavalry isn’t who you’d expect…unless you paid attention to everything in the previous volumes.

The payoff is stellar. The revelations are astounding. There’s a sweet life lesson (family is more important than anything…awww Mr. Hickman). This finale is so good, it really is.

I won’t ruin it for those of you who will actually go and read it (You should. All in one shot. 5 Volumes. It will make you appreciate Hickman’s scale and scope of his projects.)

But for those of you who want to know: (view spoiler)

But is it just Franklin? No…turns out, the pocket universe is used to summon Franklin’s herald…a fellow you may know, by the name of Galactus.

WHAT!!!?!?!?!?! Yes. In this version, Galactus is the one and only herald of Franklin Richards. Together, Franklin, and Galactus infused with the consumed life of an entire pocket UNIVERSE (not just a planet) has the power to defeat the Celestials. Then we have some nice father/son moments. (hide spoiler)]

Yup. A stellar ending. I am a sucker for Father-Son relationships, they always get me emotional. Hickman, who’s all about cosmic level universe expanding, crazy convoluted stories, boils it down to the love of a father for his son, and visa versa, as the saving grace of the world.

Well done. (There seems to be something in my eye…)

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