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: 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: Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force/The Deep by Rob Williams

Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force/The DeepFear Itself: Uncanny X-Force/The Deep by Rob Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Not sure why the X-Force story was put together with The Deep story in this.
Maybe they both needed a few more issues to be sold as a volume?
Yeah, they both have to do with the Fear Itself storyline, but they don’t intersect with each other.

Anyway.
It shouldn’t surprise you that I loved the issues of X-Force.
Dark, irreverent, funny, and I still love the hyper-slick look of the artwork!
So win-win all around for me!

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The X-Force is going after a religious zealot who is using the Fear thing as an excuse to kill. Only this guy is planning on killing not just mutants or superheroes, he wants to kind of kill off…everyone
You know, to save their immortal souls from the fires of Hell, or some such nonsense.

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I loved it!
And the moral of the story is this: If you try to nuke Manhattan, Wolverine and Deapool will stab you.

The Deep was a bit of a disappointment.
It’s not that it flat-out sucked, it’s just that it could have been so much better.

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This one had a great cast of interesting characters, but it barely held my interest.
Namor, Dr. Strange, Loa, Silver Surfer, and Savage She-Hulk!
Hello? This should have been an easy win! Instead, it was sort of boring.

The Fear (toxin? spirit? what is it?) gets Namor, and he has to *cough* learn to Fight His Fear to save the day…
Imperious Rex, bitches!
Only it wasn’t that cool.
Seriously, couldn’t the freakin’ Silver Surfer have taken out CanofTunna?
Sorry. I mean, Attuma.

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With all the heavy-hitters on the team, I never felt like only Namor can save us!, you know?
However, it wasn’t an awful story, just a lot of wasted potential.

5 stars for the X-Force, 3 stars for The Deep.

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Review: Superior Spider-Man Team Up Vol. 2 – Superior Six; by Chris Yost and Kevin Shinick

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Volume 2: Superior Six (Marvel Now)Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Volume 2: Superior Six by Christopher Yost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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Continuing EVIL week buddy reads with the Shallow Readers, here we’ve got Superior Spider-Man (Evil Otto in Good Peter’s body) alongside the Sinister Superior Six (Vulture, Electro, Sandman, Mysterio, Chameleon (and usually Doc Ock!).

Here’s an interesting twist on things: Otto has the other members of the Six under control via his Spider-bots, so he has control of all their actions, and is using them for various evil shenanigans good!

Of course, since this is Spider-Man, everything goes tits up…Otto is finding out the hard way, he’s got his AND Peter’s bad luck multiplied! The Wrecking Crew shows up to steal some Quantum Physics thing, and he gets help from some Sun Girl character.

Also, the Six talk about how something is off, because Spider-Man was never this mean and also not this long without a joke…talking about how it’s juxtaposed between their evil torture and his, and his taking control of them and imprisoning them to do his bidding is far worse than anything they ever did to him…and they’re kinda right.

Spidey Otto learns from Sun Girl, the minor nobody who wanted to be just like Spidey, what it really means to be a hero, and Otto chastises himself for being too cocky and losing sight of the real reason…there’s also some sad stuff about Sandman, and how he used to think Spider-Man wasn’t all bad, but now, it’s different, and Otto realizes that he’s done far worse than keep them prisoner, he’s united them in the bond of hatred they feel for Spider-Man. Irony of ironies, Otto as Doc Ock could NEVER get them all that together.

The next story Anne will love! It’s all about Otto Spidey being all woebegone after his failures with the Six, and deciding to turn himself into the Avengers and admit everything…but he runs into NAMOR!

Namor is being pursued by Wakandan assassins, and Spidey helps him out even though the Sub-Mariner wants nothing to do with him. Then Spidey tells his tale and Namor laughs in his face and tells him thanks, that’s the best laugh he’s had in years. Then Namor sees Spidey disarm the robot assassins (because they’re not actually Wakandan) and he says, forget this shit Insect Man, you’re superior, you’re better than the sheep you protect, never forget that. Namor is about to tell him he’s earned his respect when Otto straight up BITCH-SLAPS Namor.

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Yeah BOI!

Then he tells him that his bullshit better not endanger the people of his city anymore…and this convinces Otto not to be so emo, that in fact, he’s the greatest super hero EVER! So score one for Namor’s attitude making Otto Spidey stronger…and he gets bitchslapped. Awesome.

Next story is a switch from Chris Yost to Kevin Shinick, and while I enjoyed both, I think Shinick did a good job inserting a bit more humour into the rest of the volume.

This one features our favourite NYC Street Trifecta: Spidey, Daredevil, and Big Pun!
Spidey is internal monologuing about how the city sits on the brink of tension, like before WWI, the American Revolution, and:

“Or the bullet that killed someone named “TWO PACKS” that apparently kicked off some Bi-Coastal WRAPPING War…”

BWAHAHAHA! I laughed so hard at that one I woke my wife up. Two Packs…hahaha. OTTO I love you so hard.

He’s interrupted by Frank and Matt, Frank shoots him to get his attention, and Frank asks when the webbing became bulletproof…then Otto asks how he knew that, only for it to click that he didn’t know and he just shot at him! LOLZ! Oh you guys!
Anyhow, Daredevil says relax, the Devil made him do it…HAHA! (See? a Pun? Weak but funny. Even little ones like this would help DC) it was rubber bullets…at least Frank said they would be…and we need to talk.
Otto freaks out, to which Matt replies “We’re going on five seconds and you’ve already said “Egads” and “Confound it”. You’re NOT yourself…and I’m a tad concerned…”

When Spidey checks to see if Punisher followed DD’s instructions to use rubber bullets, his reply?
“Let’s just say I hear as well as he sees”

This is comedy gold. I mean a Punisher who cracks jokes? OK sure. This I love, and Spider-Man is the ruthless angry one…bingo. LOVE IT.

Down to business, someone stole some of Frank’s weaponry, and he and DD want Spidey’s help, plus they’re not sure if maybe he didn’t take it…so we go back to his secret lair Spider Island. There we discover that someone has stolen all of Otto-Man’s stuff, and that his whole team of minions has been infiltrated…a large battle ensues, and we see the trifecta working together, but Otto refuses to trust the other 2…Daredevil is all “bitch please, Punisher is blind from a flash bang, I’m blind, and we are running around, and Spider-Man doesn’t make ONE ‘blind leading the blind’ joke? who is the sketchy one here?’ (I paraphrase)

Then we have a revelation as to who could have engineered such a job, and gotten into everyone’s heads, once the 3 are on the trust game again (Punisher even makes a trust exercise joke, about falling backwards onto his knife. – I LOVE the Punisher being a smartass….here’s a free idea for Marvel…Peter Parker’s mind in Frank Castle’s body!) Otto Spidey gets SUPER MAD when he discovers that everything is Green Goblin!

The last 2 issues are a very cool retro-drawn look back at how Gobby and Doc Ock started to work together, and how Gobby fucked Otto over super hardcore. Otto’s realization that Goblin did the same thing to him a second time while he’s been Spider-Man is very cleverly illustrated over a 2 page spread, where we see the parallel situations…except this time, Otto thinks with his heart instead of his brain, and that’s what allows Peter’s soul to re-emerge in Spider-Man, and defeat Osborn where Otto never could.

Otto even refers to Peter as the better man, and says he saved both Otto and Anna Maria (Otto’s love while living as Peter). The last page belongs to Pete, telling us in a recap what happened, and how he’s learned about Otto by reliving all his memories and entire life…he won’t condone his actions, but he can empathize with him and relate far better. He also says that Otto deserves the credit for the goblin serum that removes it from those who were infected, so his brain actually was scientifically superior to any other. Then Pete’s final observation is the irony behind Otto’s victory over Norman is that he didn’t think with his mind for once…

I gave this book 4 stars but I think I enjoyed it more than that. I will say so because I just finished Superior Spider-Man’s whole run, and Otto went out in such a way…This feels like returning to a long lost friend…which means that Otto’s Superior Spider-Man was a success, because reading him again made me smile. I have to think that the Superior Spider-Man may be one of the best story arcs of the last decade plus. It took away someone we took for granted (Peter Parker) and it turned our perceptions of his longest running enemy (Otto) and flipped them. Otto as Spider-Man was a great idea, and executed so very well too, which is half the battle with good ideas, letting them come to fruition properly.

I will be seeking out the first volume of this Team-Up series (I did read another one, but it was actually Avenging Spider-Man issues with this title on them instead…).

Strongly recommended for anyone who liked Superior S-M. Very enjoyable, and I do hope Otto rises again somewhere, and is forever changed by his experiences.


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Review: Fantastic Four: 1234 (Marvel Knights 4 #1234) by Grant Morrison, Jae Lee (Illustrator)

Fantastic Four: 1234

Fantastic Four: 1234 by Grant Morrison

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars

Beware: LOADS OF SPOILERS IN THIS ONE!
In fact, I’m probably going to end up spoiling the entire story. So.

Our FOURTH week of Shallow Buddy reads is a nod to Marvel’s oldest family, The Fantastic Four!

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OH! So close!
This one almost made me get excited for this team. Almost.
At first it seemed like this was a grand What If story, told in Morrison’s schizophrenic style and brought to life by Jae Lee’s art.
Very cool, no?

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No.
Midway through, I was convinced that this was going to be THE ULTIMATE Fantastic Four story for me.
Ben goes to see Doom, because he promised to tell him The Truth about something. Whatever he says rocks Grimm’s world, and in exchange for listening…Victor cures Ben.
Meanwhile, Reed has hooked himself up to some machine, and become totally unresponsive to the outside world.

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Sue goes to Alicia’s house to escape her brother’s childish behavior, and get some advice on what do do about Reed.
He ignores her for his work, she cna’t take it anymore, blah, blah, blah.

Ding Dong!

Guess who shows up at the door?

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Also, it looks like Doom is actually Reed!
OMG! Mr. Fantastic, what have you done?!

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I’m literally bouncing around by the time I read that part!
*insert squealing*
Shit is getting REAL!

Oh. Wait. No, it isn’t.

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I was drooling all over the place, thinking YES! I’ve found MY Fantastic Four Book!, and that’s when the cop-out happens.
Wah, wah, wah…
Nothing is really real. Reed is still a good guy. Sue still loves him, Ben was tricked (but it can be fixed!), and Johnny…well,the rain shorts out his power, but it’s cool.
Turns out Doom has a giant reality bending Game of Life machine.
Not kidding. I wish I was, but I’m not…

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So. Reed somehow figured out that Victor was going to use his Game machine on them, went onto his lab, built a replica of the machine, hooked himself up to it, grew more brains, and outplayed Dr. Doom.
But somehow…there was no time to explain to the rest of the team.

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I loved the idea of mixing it all up, going crazy with the personalities, and turning these guys loose. It could have been interesting, but it ended up turning into a boring scoop of vanilla. And since it was Morrison, I not only felt unsatisfied by the conclusion…I was also slightly disoriented and confused.
Thanks, Grant.

First part of the story is great, so I’m grudgingly giving it 2.5 stars.

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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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