Tag Archives: Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four #1

There may have been no release in Marvel’s Fresh Start initiative more anticipated than the return of Reed, Sue, Ben, & Johnny. After three years without a title, the book that started a superhero revolution and kicked off Marvel’s ascendancy way back in 1961, is back on the stands. Fantastic Four #1, by Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli, is decades removed from the book that was proudly emblazoned with the headline “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” but the publisher, by all accounts, is finally ready to give the title a fair shot at reclaiming some its former glory.

The truth behind the FF’s lengthy hiatus may never fully be revealed. Declining sales probably factored in, and the culmination of Hickman’s Secret Wars event provided an opportunity to shelve half of the core group at the onset of the All-New All-Different era. It’s also been rumored that the terrible failure of the three 20th Century Fox feature films, one more terrible than the next, contributed to Marvel’s decision to distance itself from a series bearing that title. Considering the degree to which Marvel Studios dictates editorial decisions for the comic book lines, this wouldn’t at all be surprising. The comics play nice when the non-Disney licensees do well (Deadpool, for example), but with no opportunity at the time to correct the FF’s big-screen portrayals, Marvel may have felt like keeping this book off the stands would devalue the license for Fox, preventing them from attempting yet another brand-defaming motion picture.

All that could change, of course, if the proposed Disney-Fox merger goes through. With a few more assets to untangle, and sports-related networks to extricate, the path seems clear for Marvel’s parent company to reclaim the movie rights for what is, after Spider-Man, arguably the comic book publisher’s most important property.

The seeds were sown during last fall’s Legacy initiative. The one-shot special hinted at the group’s return, and the new Marvel Two-in-One series, by Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung, rehabilitated Human Torch and The Thing after lost years with various Inhuman teams or Guardians of the Galaxy respectively, and helped to remind us how much Marvel’s First Family means to all of us superhero devotees.

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The Best of Marvel Legacy #2 – Marvel Two-in-One

Beginning with #1

As many people know, the Fantastic Four, despite being the quintessential Marvel team, has always been a tough gig to nail down. Beside the initial Stan and Jack run, the only two people have made their marks on the team for me: Jonathan Hickman and Mark Waid. Both runs took me a minute before falling fully behind them. This was not the case with Chip Zdarksy and Jim Cheung’s Marvel Two-in-One. I was fully invested within the first five pages.

While not being labeled a Fantastic Four book, it clearly is nothing else but that. In the post-Secret Wars world, Reed, Sue, and the kids have been out exploring the multiverse while leaving Johnny and Ben on Earth. Not knowing whether the rest of their family is actually alive has left them both in a rut. Johnny’s powers are fading and he has become a sort of adrenaline junkie trying to stimulate himself to the point of his old adventures. Ben has become a sort poster child for all charity efforts of the Fantastic Four. They are both aimless in different ways with neither of them particularly thinking that they need each other. Heartbroken over the loss of their family, they feel that the isolation from each other is the only way to heal. Zdarsky shows how wrong they both are.

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Valentines 4 Ever

I’m not the wisest in the ways of love, but I know one cornerstone of a good relationship is stability. Relationships require people to rely upon each other, a healthy level of dependence that not only nurtures and sustains feelings, but ultimately transforms two lives into some sort of super-functioning unit.

Unfortunately, the super-hero world isn’t known for stability.

Characters are killed off and resurrected annually. Enemies become comrades and good guys go bad. Heroes change their costumes and monikers faster than a speeding bullet, with some going as far as taking on the roles of other heroes entirely. One day you’re Dr. Doom, the next you’re Iron Man, amirite?

Yet throughout Marvel history, one thing has remained (for the most part, 98%) unchanged: Reed Richards loves Sue Storm, and vice-versa.

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Top 5 Superhero Resurrections

It’s on everyone’s mind this time of year. Back from the grave, back to save humanity. In a long-overdue return of Four Color Top 5’s, here’s a TPB reading list of my favorite Superhero Resurrection stories.

A tale as old as time. Superhero dies valiantly; a world mourns. And, after the requisite grieving process has run its course, superhero comes back, typically in dramatic fashion. Sometimes the death story is more interesting than the actual return (sorry, Flash). Sometimes neither the death nor the resurrection seems particularly profound (looking at you, Psylocke), and the time spent on the Other Side amounts to little more than an extended sabbatical. But in certain special cases, we get epic yarns like the following.

IMG_0602Jonathan Hickman loves The End of Times. His parting shot to Marvel was to culminate a three-year “Everything Dies” Avengers storyline with the Secret Wars event, opening the doors for the All New All Different universe. Before he destroyed realities and made Dr. Doom a god, however, he was wrapping up a memorable run on Marvel’s First Family, The Fantastic Four.

In the “Three” storyline, Johnny Storm, who has long had a reputation as a self-centered, narcissistic attention whore, sacrifices himself to fend off a Negative Zone invasion from Annihilus and his scary-ass Annihilation Wave. Spider-Man joins the team, and they operate as “FF” for several months until The Human Torch makes his dramatic return.

All of Hickman’s Fantastic Four stories are worth checking out. His science-forward plots always seemed more appropriate to this title than The Avengers but, hell, he did some good stuff there too. But what really makes this particular pair of trades stand out is the way Hickman brings Johnny back to life. And this isn’t a thought-he-was-dead-but-he-really wasn’t scenario (we’ll see some of those below). The Torch was dead. Really dead. And not to spoil anything, but his resurrection tale involves bugs, Galactus, and Annihilus on a leash. It’s legitimately fantastic and might just wash away the bad taste left by yet another failed movie attempt.

5. The Human Torch

Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 4 (2013)

For weeks leading up to his demise, we knew someone on the FF was going to bite it. The arc was called “Three,” after all. And the Internet was wild with speculation as to which one it was going to be (my money had been on Reed). Props to Hickman for making one-in-four odds so engaging and surprising.

Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 5 (2013)

Just because this is “Volume 5” doesn’t mean Johnny was dead for only a few months. There’s a gap in between the two books, but the volumes read fluidly regardless. It’s the best run on Fantastic Four in – no kidding – about thirty years.

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How Marvel Studios Can Save The Fantastic Four

While I have no doubt that the rumored Bryan Singer involvement with Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot would do wonders for the franchise, and help save what was an atrocious first attempt, I think the problem is severe enough that the crisis council needs to start researching some other options.

RF and I have simmered on this for two weeks and we wanted desperately to say, of the recent Fantastic Four film, “It wasn’t that bad. It has potential.”

It’s not the worst movie to be stamped with the Marvel logo, but it’s in the conversation. Maybe Top 5. Having said that, however, we both agreed that the “potential” remains. And we hashed out one sure-fire way to make the most of said potential and rescue Marvel’s First Family from cinematic purgatory. Our patience is wearing thin; this is the fourth attempt at doing these characters justice. We need Marvel Studios to step in. Continue reading How Marvel Studios Can Save The Fantastic Four