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Paul Cornell

You could say the Doctor is the FF all rolled up together: Reed's brain and academic distance; Johnny's impulsiveness; Ben's down to earth care for the ordinary people and Sue's invisible force field--no, come on, that metaphor was working so well! What's the Doctor got that Sue's got? Warmth, I suppose. And a nice bottom. So I'm told. I don't objectify comic book characters like that.


I seem to be reading lots of Fantastic Four at the moment; True Story, the Simonson run, getting up to date on the Millar run. Strangely it's the last of these that's prompted me to start up this thread, as I find I quite like it and need to work out how I feel about that.

Millar's not a writer I admire. Someone else here said it well the other day...
Shadow Odinson

Has he written anything that isn't a violent frat boy philosophy, often a commentary on how much it would suck if anyone ever tried to stand out? Because that's the impression that I've gotten from just about everything I've ever seen him write.


But he's one I often find very entertaining just because his work annoys me so much. You know the feeling of delicious outrage you get from reading a newspaper columist you hate? That weird suspended pleasure when you're caught in the push/pull of something utterly repellant and wrong, but demonstrably witty and clever? That's the sort of fun I've always derived from Millar.

And I didn't think it would be a sort of fun that'd transfer over onto the Fantastic Four, because you can't really feel 'delicious outrage' if they're written repellant and wrong, can you? All you can feel is terribly sad.

Thing is though, he does seem to have done rather a good job of sublimating himself and what's come out is something I find myself enjoying as an FF comic rather than as a red rag to my fanbull. It's got copious faults - the current arc managed to telegraph both its twist and its resolution so blatantly that the first issue might as well have printed a text piece summarising the fourth - but there's a great sense of scale, integrity and a nicely Byrne-ish approach to the characterisation.

I'd like to talk about it a bit, so here's the thread on which I'll be so doing. As well as looking back on True Story and letting you know if I'm as wowed by the Simonson issues as the rest of the world.

You're all free to chirp in with what you like...

Why do the Fantastic Four work for you?
Why don't they?
Which is your favourite run? Story? Character? Reed invention?
How do you see their place in the MU? They're the foundation of the whole thing, but they always seem kind of marginal. How does that work?
How would you have done the films?
Which was the first FF story you ever read?
Who'd you most like to see write and draw them?

That sort of thing. Make up more of your own.
Oh, thank you so much for making this. I read the last two issues of "True Story" in one fell swoop and it's the happiest I've been at the conclusion of a comic arc in the longest time. If I can't support Captain Britain, can I at least get brownie points for devouring this comic?

It really *did* feel like an FF story that COULD have been rewritten into a Doctor Who story, though I can't imagine who would have filled in for Johnny's pivotal role.

I haven't read FF since Waid left. The entire Civil War thing left me cold and even before then it seemed like the goal was to completely ignore the point of Waid's run (which answered the question of "Why is a superpowered family NOT lame" ) to make things more 'edgy.'

The first Fantastic Four comic I read was during the Byrne run in around 1985 or 86. I was reading 'Power Pack' and one of the FF issues featured Franklin Richards dreaming about the Pack. My mother collected FF and after that I just read all of her issues.

My favorite run is Waid and 'Ringo's, though a runner-up was the years that Ben led the team with Johnny, Crystal and Sharon Ventura. I'm sure other people hate that time because it wasn't the "Core Four," but I started reading FF when She-Hulk was a member, so whatever.

I'd like to see Dan Slott write the FF. I hear he's tapped to do Mighty Avengers and that's a shame because his short-lived "Thing" series was sure a lot of fun.

Does anyone read the Marvel Adventures FF? I've heard good things about MA Spidey and MA Avengers, but nothing about the MA FF.
biggrin heart heart heart i heart she-hulk......much. heart heart heart mrgreen drools.....the human torch should have an on again,off again romance with she-hulk.or juggernaut should actually nail the 616 universe she-hulk. i don't think reed and sue should see each other anymore....too messy after civil war.
The very first comic book I ever received as from my grandparents when I was all of three years old, and it was indeed a Fantastic Four comic. I couldn't begin to tell you the issue number. I do remember that there was something wrong with Sue, so Reed, Ben and Johnny had to go into the Negative Zone to, if I remember correctly, get an antidote or something. Anyways, the mission was to save Sue, but they got attacked by Anniallus(sp?), and in the end Ben and Johnny escaped, but Reed was trapped. I never found the next issue, and don't have a clue how the story turned out. For all I know, he's still stuck in there and the current Reed is a Skrull.

I loved the movies because it captured for me what is crucial in the FF, and that's the chemistry between the characters. I wouldn't change the movies at all.

I don't read marvel and haven't for 12 years. If I were to go back to Marvel for any characters at all it would be the FF. Written at it's best, the book is wild sci-fi and utterly character driven. That's my cup of tea.

The first creator I really remember has having an impact on me was John Byrne's run on the title. I still remember the arc where they actually met Ben's Aunt. She was much hotter than I think anyone figured. I also remember the crossover with the Shogun Warriors.

My favorite issue though was when Reed, Sue and Johnny went to find Ben who retreated to Monster Island to live with the Mole Man and get away from society. This was the end of She-Hulk's time with the team and it was great to see the original four back in action together again.
I don't read the book, but I do like the characters, so I decided to take the plunge and participate anyway.

Richard_Swift
Why do the Fantastic Four work for you?
They're an actual family as opposed to a team of friends.

Richard_Swift
Why don't they?
I dunno, I just never felt the desire to grab their book. I'd probably chalk it up to being more of a DC fan than Marvel. Since I'm not over on "that side of the rack", I don't think about it.

Richard_Swift
Which is your favourite run? Story? Character? Reed invention?
Don't really have one, oops. I do like the Ultimate Nullifier, though.

Richard_Swift
How do you see their place in the MU? They're the foundation of the whole thing, but they always seem kind of marginal. How does that work?
I see them as Marvel's First Family. However, I don't see them specifically as a "superhero" book, which might be why they get pushed to the back.

Richard_Swift
How would you have done the films?
Probably similar to how they were actually done. The only things I'd probably change would be the actress for Sue (not that Jessica was bad, though) and the idea that a cloud system was threatening. Maybe a Spider-cameo to rag on Johnny.

Richard_Swift
Which was the first FF story you ever read?
Some FCBD issue where Reed hires a PR firm. I think that was the first one anyway.

Richard_Swift
Who'd you most like to see write and draw them?
No idea, though no one that makes Sue look like a stripper.
Last Renshi
The very first comic book I ever received as from my grandparents when I was all of three years old, and it was indeed a Fantastic Four comic. I couldn't begin to tell you the issue number. I do remember that there was something wrong with Sue, so Reed, Ben and Johnny had to go into the Negative Zone to, if I remember correctly, get an antidote or something. Anyways, the mission was to save Sue, but they got attacked by Anniallus(sp?), and in the end Ben and Johnny escaped, but Reed was trapped. I never found the next issue, and don't have a clue how the story turned out. For all I know, he's still stuck in there and the current Reed is a Skrull.


Wow, that's an early one! That was when Sue was pregnant with Franklin and the cosmic ray energy in her body was dangerous for both her and the baby. The guys were going into the Negative Zone to retrieve the Cosmic Control Rod from Annhilus to control the energies.

Quote:
I loved the movies because it captured for me what is crucial in the FF, and that's the chemistry between the characters. I wouldn't change the movies at all.


I really liked the movies too. If I could change them, I'd give them a bigger budget so that the first one doesn't end with Doom being defeated by a fire hydrant.

Quote:
I don't read marvel and haven't for 12 years. If I were to go back to Marvel for any characters at all it would be the FF. Written at it's best, the book is wild sci-fi and utterly character driven. That's my cup of tea.


Total agreement here. When someone writes them who understands that they're a sci-fi story and not a superhero team, it's tops.

Quote:
The first creator I really remember has having an impact on me was John Byrne's run on the title. I still remember the arc where they actually met Ben's Aunt. She was much hotter than I think anyone figured. I also remember the crossover with the Shogun Warriors.


Ben's sweet Aunt Petunia! I remember that story. She had married into the family, so she was actually younger then Ben.

Quote:
My favorite issue though was when Reed, Sue and Johnny went to find Ben who retreated to Monster Island to live with the Mole Man and get away from society. This was the end of She-Hulk's time with the team and it was great to see the original four back in action together again.


That was a classic issue. It was an anniversary issue of some sort and the first issue after Byrne left the title. It showed how easy it was for Ben to backslide into depression, but that deep down inside, he'll always be a hero.
Querl Dox
Oh, thank you so much for making this. I read the last two issues of "True Story" in one fell swoop and it's the happiest I've been at the conclusion of a comic arc in the longest time. If I can't support Captain Britain, can I at least get brownie points for devouring this comic?

It really *did* feel like an FF story that COULD have been rewritten into a Doctor Who story, though I can't imagine who would have filled in for Johnny's pivotal role.


Funny you should say that
... the phrase 'Land of Fiction', which Paul used increasingly for the MU's Bookworld, might just have turned up in Doctor Who once or twice. smile

That last issue was just a explosion of joy though. Every line seemed calculated to remind us of why these characters are awesome. Every time Reed said anything then he became officially my favourite comic character ever. Until Sue would say something, at which point she would because officially my favourite comic character ever. Up to the point where Johnny would open his mouth and...so on.

And as for the content itself, I can't stop smiling at the pretty, witty and clever arguement it makes for doing away with the division been 'high' and 'low' art. That's something quite important to me on an intellectual level, but it was cool to see it done in such a touching way.

And of course, the whole thing is Waid's 'Imaginauts' take pushed as far as 'Hereafter'.

Callahan did a nice review of it...
http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=user_review&id=489

Querl Dox

I haven't read FF since Waid left. The entire Civil War thing left me cold and even before then it seemed like the goal was to completely ignore the point of Waid's run (which answered the question of "Why is a superpowered family NOT lame" ) to make things more 'edgy.'


Oddly, Millar's not really doing anything like that. In his eight issues so far, I think there've been two direct references to Sue's "I must leave the continent as we disagree about politcs" moment, and everything else is sidestepped as if Millar feels that if he's personally responsible for an earlier character-derailment that means he's personally allowed to ignore it. Which I'm glad he has.

If there's any 'edginess' then it's around Johnny, who's a bit off in a "hasn't learned anything from previous stories in which he learned things" way, but mostly it's wide-eyed SF adventure.

Querl Dox

I'd like to see Dan Slott write the FF. I hear he's tapped to do Mighty Avengers and that's a shame because his short-lived "Thing" series was sure a lot of fun.


That'd be nice on a couple of levels, as I'd quite like to get back to enjoying Dan Slott.

Querl Dox

Does anyone read the Marvel Adventures FF? I've heard good things about MA Spidey and MA Avengers, but nothing about the MA FF.


On a similar note...does anyone know how Carey's Ultimate Fantastic Four worked out?
I enjoyed his 'Godwar' arc so much I decided to tradewait, then I never got round to buying the trades. This happens to me a lot when I try and tradewait. And especially when I tradewait on Carey, for some unfair reason. redface

Oh, and does anymore know anything about the Englehart run?
I'm a huge Englehart fan, but what I've heard about it makes it sound like a mass of intercreator-politics score settling that's impenetrable to anyone who wasn't working in the Marvel bullpen at the time. Although, I suppose, that could be an amusingly random read.
Last Renshi
The very first comic book I ever received as from my grandparents when I was all of three years old, and it was indeed a Fantastic Four comic. I couldn't begin to tell you the issue number.


This is exactly how childhood memories of the FF should be!
I often talk about the odd, fractured experience of American comics which British kids of my generation got from Marvel UK and from reprints is hardbacked Christmas 'annuals', but two stories which made a huge impression on me were the first Madrox story and 'Infant Terrible!'. Both of which were in a 'Marks and Spencers' collection (anyone British reading this will get how weird that is, and will probably now be visualising Twiggy, Myleene Klass and Lily Cole sat reading these tales of spectacular suspense in the mighty marvel manner).

I'd like to say it was my first exposure to Kirby that detonated loudest in my brain, but in fact it was the Madrox one I kept re-reading over and over. I especially liked the Deus X-Men Machina ending. Kids love deus ex machinas! Nobody's told them yet that they're not allowed to.

After that came what might still be the best comic reading experience of my life - Secret Wars II.

But wait! Wasn't Secret Wars II crap?

Yes of course it was, but that was the US Secret Wars II. Marvel UK's was something weirder.

What they did was basically take everything published in the MU that year, cut it up into little bits, stick it together again and publish it weekly. So if the X-Men met the Beyonder then the comic would publish reprints of all recent X-Men stories which preceeded it, print the Beyonder appearance and carry on printing X-Men stories until it reached a nice stopping point. And all the while it'd be cutting away for a couple of pages to give us fragments from Iron Man or whatever.

Anyway, what was going on in the Fantastic Four, all mixed in with random bits from other comics about Daredevil or the New Mutants, was Byrne at his most histrionic. Sue was turning into Malice! Johnny was making kids set themselves on fire! Everything was just seething with this sort of raw, tender potency and complexity that I hadn't really seen in comics until then. Unsuprising really, as you only get that sort of feeling within families.

Last Renshi
I don't read marvel and haven't for 12 years.

Wow. I'd no idea!
Is this a principled position or has nothing from them interested you in that long? eek
pinderpanda

Last Renshi
I don't read Marvel and haven't for 12 years.

Wow. I'd no idea!
Is this a principled position or has nothing from them interested you in that long? eek
Principle position. It was twelve years ago that they first went exclusive with Diamond distribution. They were the first of the big companies to do so. This was a brutal blow to a lot of independent companies as well as other comic distributors. As someone wanting to go into the field and knowing full well that I was going to have to slug it out in the indies for a while or go the self publishing route (this was before web-publishing was much of an option) this was nasty shot to me. So my reaction was me voting with my wallet. I read probably close to 30 Marvel titles per month at the time. That dropped to zero.

Since then it's not a matter of principle so much as I don't support idiots. I thought about giving them a shot again recently but we currently have Skrull-o-rama and Quesada shtting on 20 years of Spidey continuity. Not the place for the new reader.

So I'll stick with what's left of DC that's worth my money and whatever else catches my eye.
Last Renshi
Principle position. It was twelve years ago that they first went exclusive with Diamond distribution.

That's certainly a stance I can respect. Though the distribution choices the big companies have made by putting all thier eggs in the Diamond&Direct Market basket do a good job of limiting thier sales without us having to take a stand!

This really brings it home...

LitG

So what was the best selling American comic book single issue of the year? “Final Crisis?” “Secret Invasion?” Something manga? No. Nowhere near.

"Gears Of War" #1 from DC/WildStorm. Over 450,000 I'm told. Only 10% of which went through the direct market.


I can't think of any other industry that'd go out of its way to make it as difficult as possible for 90% of thier potential audience to buy their product.
Kay_Challis
Last Renshi
Principle position. It was twelve years ago that they first went exclusive with Diamond distribution.

That's certainly a stance I can respect. Though the distribution choices the big companies have made by putting all thier eggs in the Diamond&Direct Market basket do a good job of limiting thier sales without us having to take a stand!

This really brings it home...

LitG

So what was the best selling American comic book single issue of the year? “Final Crisis?” “Secret Invasion?” Something manga? No. Nowhere near.

"Gears Of War" #1 from DC/WildStorm. Over 450,000 I'm told. Only 10% of which went through the direct market.


I can't think of any other industry that'd go out of its way to make it as difficult as possible for 90% of thier potential audience to buy their product.
Exactly. This move was made to make comics an 'exclusive' market, meaning you had to know the proper channels for getting the items you want. That's completely idiotic. Frankly, it backs the notion that the big companies on a level greater than anyone but them would like, are not longer interested in making comics but just marketing the intellectual properties.

So yeah, if they're going to screw themselves, I'm going to participate in the figurative gangbang by simply giving them the finger and telling them to handle their own business and I'll have no part of it.
I thought the most fun, and least time/thought-consuming, way of sharing my Simonson readthrough would be to just pick out four notable or interesting things from each issue as I go along. That way I don't have to do any reviewing, contexualising, argument-constructing or anything else resembling work.

Four interesting things about Fantastic Four #334


1) The biography of Sharon Ventura does not make for happy reading, and I suspect every complaint a feminist fan has ever had about anything could be horrifiyingly exemplified with reference to it. But...just take Where She Is Here in isolation, and there's actually something very transgressive and positive about it. We've got a woman whose physical appearance is in no way coded as feminine asserting her right to feminine social behaviour, participating in a tender relationship with a very masculine man, and then playfully throwing him over her shoulder to carry him off to bed. That's way ahead of what Typical Fanboy would be comfortable with now.

2) The plot's all about d-list villains trying to evade the security systems and sneak into the Plaza (with editorial notes confessing that they can't remember these guys details), and down-on-thier-luck Avengers doing the same while looking for a place to crash.

People talk a lot about the FF as a 'soap opera', but in many ways they're much more like a sitcom, aren't they? The set-up's much more stable than in soap, and we know in any situation which character will get which lines.

3) Adorable Reed Moment: Contorting himself into a dinosaur-shape for Franklin to ride him.
"You got it, Cowboy! Hold on tight, then it's bedtime for Bonzo!"

4)
Does any of this seem familiar?
User Image
Sorce
I don't read the book, but I do like the characters, so I decided to take the plunge and participate anyway.
I too will plunge and participate, briefly. I don't have much positive to say about them, and the bulk of that is mostly indifferent.

Richard_Swift
Why don't they?

They're an actual family as opposed to a team of friends.

This might be a turn on for some people (like Sorce), but for me it's not. I can't really stand my own family for long periods of time, I don't need to read a comic book family bicker their way through the destruction of the planet.

Richard_Swift
How would you have done the films?

I'd have hired much better writers and a completely different actress to play Sue. One who can, I don't know, act. I'd have liked a slightly older Reed as well. I cannot put enough emphasis on the hiring of better writers though.

Annnnnd the end.
I'm not going to be able to put much of a finger on why they annoy me so much. Individually, I like Johnny and Ben (or together), and I even sort of like Reed, but Sue pushes at least six or seven of my "Uhg" buttons. And Sue and Reed together push at least two more of my "Uhg" buttons. And then you throw the kids in there...
I would like to say I'd be more inclined to pick up the book if it was distinctly science fiction without too much bother of the superhero element. Those stories that I did enjoy (mostly in the cartoon), either involved the inhumans or the Negative Zone or traveling out into space to do something for some reason or another.
Of course for all I know that's exactly where the book was headed recently and it was just so off my radar that I hadn't noticed.
The only comic book story of theirs I remember reading and enjoying was "Unstable Molecules," which wasn't even about the Fantastic Four that most people are talking about. Though the further back you go in time, the more inclined I am to like the stories. It's just that, again, I've experienced the vast bulk of them in Cartoon Form.
Querl Dox
which answered the question of "Why is a superpowered family NOT lame"
If you've got that in a trade I can borrow, I'm willing to give it a shot. No one has yet answered that question for me and I like Waid.
Richard_Swift


1) The biography of Sharon Ventura does not make for happy reading...


Oh my gosh, you just uncovered exactly why I quit reading FF comics in the 90's. I was just wild about Ben and Sharon's relationship, from her "DON'T TOUCH ME" stage being changed gradually into acceptance of herself, and Ben's change from brooding about his appearance to having someone who understood him and becoming a strong leader of the team.

And it was exceptionally cute (and, I suppose looking back as an older-then-13-year-old, progressive) relationship that Ben did not mind or feel stymied at all at dating a woman who looked like her and could break him into bits if she wanted. And it was awesome that she, in turn, still loved him despite him losing the look that attracted her to him in the first place.

Then Simonson was tossed off the title, the reset button was hit, and Tom DeFalco turned Sharon into a crazy traitor who cut a deal with DOCTOR DOOM to be turned normal.

Then he turned her into a giant mutating monster, put her in deep freeze for about 18 issues, had her join the Frightful Four and run off into the woods never to be seen again.

And that's why I stopped reading FF comics until Waid's trades were collected.

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