Call your Aunt Petunia and let her know it’s clobberin’ time because the Fantastic Four are about to join the Secret Invasion.
A few issues back we saw a quick scene at the Baxter Building where Sue Storm, or a Skrull appearing to be Sue Storm, goes into Reed Richard’s lab, destroys the control that keep a gate on the Negative Zone, and sits back as the Baxter Building is sucked into the Negative Zone. This issue goes into a little more detail as to what was going on. Think of it like what Robert Rodriguez did with Machete. They had the initial small trailer to that movie filmed and ended up making the movie around the trailer. Same concept here. The same scene from the earlier comic is still there but we get a little more understand of what brought them to that point and what happens afterwards.
We get a good sense of the family dynamic in this issue. We get The Thing and Johnny Storm doing the nagging friends bit toward each other which is great to see, which was sort of replicated in the Fantastic Four movie with Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis. (That movie was far from a cinema classic but I think it hit the points it needed to make and was a pretty decent film.) The characters seemed familiar with each other and their interactions with each other were natural. I appreciated how Johnny suspected Sue was not who she was from pretty much the start.
I really dug The Thing. While he didn’t say my favorite catch phrase this issue (I’m sure it’s coming!) the love he felt for Reed and Sue’s kids was felt by his actions. He did everything he could to keep the kids from having to face the fact that they were in real mortal danger. For a character that looks like The Thing to show the kind of tenderness is actually nice to see.
I liked the character designs in this issue. Very clean, you could get a real sense of their emotions as they dealt with some really messed up scenarios. The look on The Thing’s face alone when he discovers they’re in the Negative Zone is worth the comic alone.
They did a really bad job in trying to fool people into thinking that Sue had somehow escaped from the Skrull that had impersonated Reed Richards. To go from being held captive, to suddenly appearing on the other side of the country at the Baxter Building where she proceeds to bring them into the Negative Zone to giving that ridiculous like that Reed Richards, who had put numerous super villains into the Negative Zone as a prison of sorts would want his wife and children to be housed with them for their safety was ridiculous. Why it ended up taking Johnny Storm as long as it did for him to guess that the woman impersonating his sister was in fact not his sister made you simply want to toss a bucket of water on him and kick him in the nuts for his abject stupidity.
They were trying to go for something big with that reveal but it fell flatter than my pickup lines with women when I was single. Nowhere was there any sort of hint to the reader that Sue had somehow escaped her captivity. Nowhere. And if she were looking to protect her family, why would she walk by them without even acknowledging them? A mother that is certain of imminent danger to her kids will not casually stroll by them without even looking in their faces.
It’s the little things that kill me in comics sometimes. I get that twenty pages can be filled quite fast. They don’t have the luxury to tell a story in a traditional way like I did with my novel (Time to Play the Game, available here. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/48189) in the sense that each issue has to have it’s own story. It has to feel like a stand alone story that entices people to want to know more about the world they dived into. Yet you still have to follow some of the basic tenants of storytelling. You can’t speed through an idea simply because you don’t have the space for it. If they wanted to create doubt in the reader’s mind that Sue Storm was in fact NOT kidnapped by the Skrulls they should have done more to hint that she may have escaped her ordeal. They did not do that so when the eventual reveal came that she was in fact a Skrull, you wanted to slap the writer in the face for taking as long as he did for stating the obvious.
While the character art was well done, once again I find myself looking at drawings of locations I don’t believe are real. “Hey dumbass,” you might be saying. “It’s a comic. Of course it’s not real!”
I’m not implying that I feel the locations need to feel like I can actually step onto the scene. In Star Wars, Mos Eisley is not real but the way it’s presented on the screen it felt real. You felt life in each nook and cranny of Mos Eisley. I should feel that in this issue as well especially when it comes to such a fantastical place like the Negative Zone. If the artist cannot make the locations appear real, it takes you out of the suspension of disbelief. You think “It’s a shitty set!” and zone out. Any threat or menace that they’re trying to create for these characters is immediately tossed out the window.
While I did not appreciate being treated like a moron when it came to the reveal that Sue Storm was a Skrull, this was not a horrible issue. The Thing really saved it with how he dealt with being Uncle Ben. It was a work of pure genius to take a tough guy who looks like a monster and make him into a lovable but gruff family man (Thanks Stan and Jack!) but the Fantastic Four are a great group of characters. I would love to see these characters given the love they deserve on television. I think a two hour film doesn’t give their dynamic justice. Some characters like Iron Man or Spider-Man you can breeze through the set up and get straight to the ass kicking. The Fantastic Four to me have always been about the dynamic between the characters and that is something I think the movies missed. (I refuse to watch the Josh Trank version. I’d rather watch the Roger Corman version.) Television would give writers more time to explore the dynamic between the characters and allow us to become more emotionally invested in them when they actually do face off against the bad guys. This story, despite its flaws, does a pretty good job in showing off what makes the Fantastic Four such an historic comic. I give the story a 5.
The art was not as horrible as I may have made it out to be. While the locations killed me for appearing to be so fake, I loved how real and emotional the characters were drawn, especially The Thing. I give the art a 6.
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