Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It's been over two years since the last issue of Fantastic Four, which I have and totally should get around to for "The End" week. And even though I got that Walgreens exclusive Invisible Woman figure last month, it feels like I'll have the rest of the team before a new FF comic hits the racks. (I wrote this before the reveal of...whatever Marvel's Legacy thing is; which I think has a new Two-In-One? A step in the right direction, but not the same.) So luckily, I picked up about a year's worth of their last run the other day; let's check out 2014's Fantastic Four #11, "East of Eden, part three" Written by James Robinson, pencils by Leonard Kirk, inks by Karl Kesel.

As was often the case for the FF...and most Marvel characters, honestly...the writer has to spend a lot of time tearing them down, to make their later victory more dramatic. That's great, but wading through the ten issues prior it felt like Robinson was really hammering on them! An attack on New York by monsters from the "Heroes Reborn" universe is blamed on the team, even though Johnny sacrificed his powers to stop it. The court ruled against the FF, taking the Baxter Building and Sue and Reed's Future Foundation kids away; Val was already staying with Dr. Doom! During the Original Sin crossover, Ben finds out how Johnny accidentally wrecked one of Reed's attempts to cure him of being the Thing; and that Reed didn't tell him. Worse, Ben is then framed for the murder of the Puppet Master, and thrown in super-villain jail! Meanwhile, Johnny's becoming a wastrel, Sue might be reverting to Malice as she fights for her kids, and Reed's working for a science guru that you know is going to end up being a villain. (Close! That latter part is probably the most thankless job in comics: create a new villain for the Fantastic Four. Remember Hyperstorm or Crucible or the Marquis of Death?)

This particular issue opens with the aftermath of a fight with the Wizard's latest Frightful Four--this time, the girls from Salem's Seven--versus Mr. Fantastic and his magical lifeline Dr. Strange the Scarlet Witch. Reed is feeling like he can't do anything right; but Wanda tells him she's been there, and it gets better. Longtime FF associates (and occasional couple) Wyatt Wingfoot and She-Hulk meet up, and agree to investigate who was coming after the team; maybe see if they could get Johnny into rehab while they're at it. (He wasn't quite that far gone, but close.) And the prison shower scene doesn't quite go into Oz territory for Ben, but he nearly catches a beating, saved only by the subtle intervention of the Sandman, who doesn't want to be seen helping him. She's on the cover but not inside: the top dog in the prison food chain, was none other than former FF member and Ben's ex, Sharon "She-Thing" Ventura!

As Wyatt calls Johnny, his cab driver catches an arrow in the head, and Wyatt is nearly killed by...the "Heroes Reborn" Hawkeye? Luckily, She-Hulk had asked Spider-Man to keep an eye on Wyatt, but they're both confused by this turn of events. Robinson had actually written "Heroes Reborn" before: he did the 13th issues for those, the Wildstorm/Marvel crossover World War III, which I loved to death. This FF issue isn't bad, but it only moves the plot forward incrementally: much more seems to happen in the recap, than anywhere else.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Yeah I'm glad I skipped out on this run from the looks of things. E for effort for Robinson I guess, for a few ideas here and there, but really, the whole breaking them down to build them back up thing is old hat with a team like the FF. A lot of past writers like Byrne, Englehart, Millar, DeFalco, and the like all did the same thing to varying degrees.

Plus those red FF outfits were fucking hideous. I'd gladly skip any FF figures based of that design.

By the way, I do have that Heroes Reborn issue you mentioned. I'm missing maybe a part or two, but I ave most of them, and for what it was, I enjoyed seeing the MU and Wildstorm U characters interact the way they did. A lot better than what happened to the Wildstorm guys a couple years later when Lee sold 'em to DC.