Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fantastic Four #258

Fantastic Four #258- "Interlude"
Cover Date- Sept 1983 Price $ .60
Writer: John Byrne Aritst: John Byrne

(Editor's Note- The word "Doom" appears a lot in this post. I apologize for the redundancies)

Story: This issues opens with the evil dictator ,Dr. Doom, looking out over Latveria's Capitol City of Doomstadt. There is much hustle and bustle, and it's revealed by Doom's thoughts that the subjects are rebuilding the city after a would-be upstart named Sorba recently tried to take over. Doom ponders for abit, and then a local gypsy comes by and tells him that Dr. Strange is looking for a new apprentice. Doom is intrigued, but he doesn't want to be the learner, only the master.

Doom then goes into his castle and visits with his young ward Kristoff. Kristoff's mother died while under Doom's protection, so now he showers the lad with love and attention. It's quite touching and really messed up to see Doom act like a loving father. The two spend the day doing dictatorial things: checking on the Doombots, deciding between the matters of subjects a la King Solomon, etc. etc.

The next day, old Vic gets a bite to eat (somehow while still wearing his armored mask) from his personal chef, and is interrupted via communicator by his lackey Hauptmann. Hauptmann calls DD down to his lab and shows him an invention that will infuse anyone who steps into with a power that's not unlike the Silver Surfer's Power Cosmic. Hauptmann tells the good Doc that the machines all warmed up and ready to go, so Doom does just what you'd expect- he throws Hauptmann inside. The massive amount of power turns Hauptmann into chalk dust in a matter of seconds, and Doom's theory that a normal human body being too frail for the machine is proven correct.

DD then searches through his files for a suitable body to put into the machine. Young Kristoff returns and suggests that Doom ask Magneto, because Mags' powers almost rival Doom's. Doom lifts the child in the air and yells at him that "No one rivals Doom! NO ONE!"

Yes, threatening kids- the hallmark of a true supervillain. Kristoff scampers back to his room and Doom goes back to his task. He finds a suitable name, of a yet-to-be revealed character...

Later, in Manhattan, a pair of Doombots skulk through a hospital hallway. Looking for Doom's query, they find a room with a patient whose bones have all been broken from a great fall. The patients in total traction, and his eyes burn with rage as he gazes upon the D-Bots. They grab the patient, and cart him back to Latveria.

Over the course of 6 weeks, Doom nurses the mystery patient back to health. When finally rested, we find out the injured patient is none other than Tyros. Tyros used to be the intergalactic scourge known as Terrax the Destroyer, but lost his powers and fell off the top of the World Trade Center after a fight with the Fantastic Four. Doom uses this fact to entice Terrax into getting into the machine that the dear departed Hauptmann had created. Since Terrax is an alien, his physiology can handle the massive powers bestowed by the machine. Terrax gets in, powers up, and flies away on a Green Goblin like glider, intent on exacting his revenge on the Fantastic Four. Doom is happy, mostly because he knows that Terrax's body can only handle the power for about 5 hours before he becomes the next Hauptmann. Doom is going to let Terrax soften the FF a bit before he finishes the job. I guess that's why they call the issue "interlude"!

What I Thought: If you like Dr. Doom even a little bit, you need to read this comic. It's an entertaining spotlight on a much used villain whose characterizations have become rather stilted over the years. Sometimes the good doctor is a dictator who cares about maintaining his power over his nation and people, sometimes he's a cliched mindless supervillain type, sometimes he's just a bit player who really appears for no reason other than the fact that Dr. Doom is cool(see Mighty Avengers). I think this comic did a good job of portraying Doom as an evil, maniacal, egotist in any and all situations. And if you can't trust a megalomaniac to remain consistent, do you really want to read about him?

Until next time, vive la DOOM?

Fantastic Four #236

Fantastic Four #236- "Terror in a Tiny Town"
Cover Date: Nov 1981 Price $1.00
Writer: Johny Byrne Artist: John Byrne

(Editor's note- I realized that the only way I can deal with these older issues is with an intense amount of commentary and sarcasm. I really do apologize if I approach "1980's stand up comedian" levels of annoyingness. We have a "Chandler-level" event here, people)

Story: This is triple sized 2oth anniversary edition of the "World's Greatest Comics Magazine." The story starts with a familiar sight: Reed, Ben, Johnny, and Sue stealing a rocketship and flying off into space. As Reed flies into the cosmic storm on purpose, Ben Grimm warns him to turn back. Reed, ever the man of science, continues on his course and the crew is bombarded with space radiation. Reed calls out to Ben to steady the ship, but Grimm feels tired from the radiation and passes out. The spaceship hurtles towards the Earth and explodes. The end.

Okay, that wasn't the end, it was actually the point where Johnny Storm wakes up from his nightmare. It seems the young man has been having quite a bit of these types of scares lately, but he is reluctant to tell his family. After all, who would believe a mechanic from the town of Liddleville that keeps seeing visions of his family and friends as space faring rocket snatchers? Yep, it's one of those issues!

To get to the point, Reed and Susan Richards are married with a young son named Franklin. Reed is an absent minded professor at Liddleville College, and he is constantly derided by his colleagues and boss, Mr. Vincent Vaughn. Reed's close and handsome (read: not rocky) friend Ben Grimm often comes to visit the Richards, along with his not-blind wife Alicia. Mr. Grimm owns a bar where the family likes to get together and celebrate their lives in Liddleville, much like the characters on the TV show Cheers like to convene at the communal watering hole of the same name. Even Ben's father in law, Mr. Phillip Masters, sometimes comes to join them all, because he just loves Mr. Grimm and his daughter being together.
Well, it turns out that Ben, Johnny, Reed, and Sue all keep having similar nightmares in which they are on a stolen rocketship which travels through cosmic radiation. As Reed ponders this odd coincidence, he falls asleep and dreams about a group of adventurers named the Fantastic Four. Awaking with a thud as his chair tips over, Reed realizes that Liddleville is a sham, and he and his family actaually are the Fantastic Four. Woah....spoiler alert, anyone?
Reed tests his theory that things are not what they seem by cutting himself with a scalpel. apparently, "pinch me, I must be dreaming!" wasn't scientific enough for him. He goes to his home to find his worried family. He tells them the good news that they are all living in a dream world, and that Phillip Masters is in fact the villain Puppet Master, and a very likely candidate for the perpetrator of this dream state. Alicia has a hard time thinking of her step father that way, and Ben gets pretty upset because he knows that means he is really a rocky monster, and not a doting husband and bar owner (What's he complaining about? At this point in my life, I'd rather be a rocky monster than either of those). Phillip Masters tells them that since Reed figured it out, they are actually tiny puppets whose real bodies are elsewhere. The minds of the FF are being projected into the bodies, and Masters is okay with this because he only wanted to see Alicia happy.

Reed then deduces that Phillip Masters isn't smart enough or connected enough to put the team into this dreamworld. The real villain behind the plot reveals himself to be none other than... Dr. Doom! No way! Doom? In an anniversary issue? Another spoiler alert, please? Doom has got the team trapped in the world of Liddleville (huh, I just got that! Cause they're so little!), and has been watching them by manipulating a puppet version of himself, Vincent Vaughn, who was Reed's fake boss at his pretend college.

Now the FF must figure a way out. The only catch is that Ben doesn't want to leave, because he knows in all reality he and Alicia are not married and that he is a total uggo. He takes off for a while and Reed bids him farewell. Reed then goes to the college and figures out that if he uses the machine there to replicate the cosmic radiation that once gave him and his team powers, they may be able to use their puppet bodies to get their real bodies turned back on (they'll get their powers back from the machine because their puppet bodies are based on DNA copies of their real bodies). But the power levels need to be 20 times the normal amount for the team to stand a chance. The first test of the machine could be fatal, and Reed, Sue, and Johnny all argue who wants to put themselves in harm's way first. Ben then interrupts and tells Reed to use the machine on him.Reed asks if he's sure, and in the funniest scene of the comic Ben says "NO! So do it!" Alicia then tells Ben that she loves him no matter how orange and rocky he is.

What follows is that the FF all get their powers, the Puppet Master flees, and the puppet FF take the fight to Doom. They rig up his machine to throw them back into their real bodies, but they have to trick him into shooting energy at it. They appeal to his egotistical side, and he ends up shooting energy into the machine. The FF get their bodies back, and Doom appears to be catatonic. The FF grab his body, which is frozen in suspended animation, and decide to go back to the real world.

Meanwhile, we find out Doom's mind has been transported into the body of the puppet Vincent Vaughn, and that he planned for this all along. He's happy because he will be able to transport his consciousness into the suspended Doom body and surprise the FF at a later date. Doom has a signal watch that will allow him to transport his consciousness, and as he stands and gives exposition about it, a rock flies and breaks it (This is why you shouldn't talk so much, old comics!). Apparently the Puppet Master has taken control of the citizens of Liddleville (since they were also puppets), and is going to have them revolt against Doom.

What I Thought: First of all, it's cool to see what the 20th anniversary of the FF looked like. Reading comics nowadays, we're seeing how things like the 70th anniversary of Marvel are celebrated, and I never give much thought to the fact that they celebrated these older milestones as well. I thought the "anniversary issue" was an invention of a more consumer driven era, but I need to think about how comics on a whole were created solely to make money.

This story was one part cliche, one part fun, and one part surprise. Obviously, the dream world thing is used in storytelling all the time, and the real question becomes the "who's behind it, and why?" Byrne doesn't waste too much time getting there, and I appreciate that. I did think the amount of time the team took luring Doom to the machine was a bit much, but this issue was 3 times the normal size. (On that note,this comic featured a tale by Stan and Jack as well, but I didn't read it because it was an absolutely shameless advertisement for the old FF cartoon that featured H.E.R.B.I.E.)
This comic had a lot of great character moments, especially between Alicia and Ben. I loved the inclusion of Puppet Master, who looks like a deranged "Dopey" from Snow White. Puppet Master is quickly becoming my favorite stock FF villain, next to Doom, of course. Byrne's run on this book is stuff of legend, or so I've been told all my life, and I'm interested in seeing his era in action. Actually having a physical copy of his work is helping the experience I believe.

As far as the end, I was genuinely surprised to see Doom get stuck in his puppet body. I never knew that had happened to him, and I'm curious as to how he'll escape. Good one, Byrne!

Well, I think that's it for now. I'm looking forward to a regular sized issue next time around. Until then, vive la Fantastique!

Monday, November 23, 2009

4th Posting Celebration!

Can you believe its been 4 posts already? It seems like it was just last Saturday that I started this blog.... Anyway, in honor of all things "4", I would like to deviate from my usual long-winded and pointless reviews to present a short list of Fantastic Four comics that stick out in my mind. For one reason or another, these are the FF comics that serve as mile markers in my decade + love/hate relationship with Marvel's first family. Maybe by examining these issues we can find why I so often return to a book that I so often swear off of forever....

1.) Fantastic Four #413 (1996)- I have no clue what possessed me to buy this book back in the day. It was probably the end of 6th grade (Jun. '96), and the whole Onslaught epic had been announced. Marvel was going to take some of its most famous characters- the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and Captain America (and Thor too!), and totally redo them with a more modern flair. There was a huge sense of anticipation from the comics world, or at least from my 12 year old perspective, that this would be a make-or-break type of experiment.

But before this great experiment could take place, Marvel had to wrap up the current runs on all the books. The whole reason for the reinvention of these characters is that their continuity was out of control, and everything had either been written into a corner, or out into left field. Let's put it like this: At this point Iron Man had been de-aged to a teenager, Franklin Richards had been aged to a teenager, Wolverine had no nose and bone claws, and Susan Storm was well on her way to become grandmotherly. If ever someone needed to hit the reset button, the mid-nineties was the time.

Which brings us to issue #413 (1996). The Fantastic Four series was "ending" with #416, so longtime series writer Tom DeFalco had to quickly tie up the loose ends. I don't remember much about this issue, other than thinking the fact that Reed Richards' dad being a time traveler made total sense, and was incredibly lame. Also, and I think this is most why this issue will forever be stuck in my head, is that the most blatant, nonsensical retcons ever happens at the end of this comic. On the second to last page, Franklin Richards, who had been aged from a child to a teenager, is hit with a "time window" out of nowhere and suddenly becomes a kid again. The last page shows a child size Franklin in an adult space suit crying tears of joy for his mommy. As a 12 year old fanyboy, it was one of my first "what the heck?" retcon moments. It was like the first time I had the sense to pull back the curtain on the creative process of a comic and think, "there's no reason for this except to move the story into place for someone else." I kind of want to find that last page image again to prove to the world why this book needed to be rejuvenated. (Editor's note: X-Man graciously posted these 2 weird pages on his pics blog- Thanks, friend!)

2.) Fantastic Four #554 (2008)- This was one of my more recent attempts to enjoy the FF. I don't like Mark Millar's writing (or personality, not that I know the guy), and Bryan Hitch is a truly great penciller, but he's not enough to make me to buy something. Those are probably the reasons that I waited for about 3 months after this issue to come out to buy it. I remember the day, because my brother (who didn't like comics, but was just tagging along) had come with me to the comic store, and I really didn't have anything in mind to buy, so I felt like I was really wasting his time. I kind of just grabbed it on a whim (and because I had some idea that it was supposed to be a cool new direction), and was astonished to find I enjoyed the story enough to pick up the next issue. But then money woes came and I didn't buy any more issues.

I really thought Millar and Hitch were going to do something special with the book. After reading one of those Marvel promotional interviews in the back of one of my other comics, I kind of bought into the hype. All writers say they want to go back to the "Stan and Jack" mentality for these characters, and I thought maybe Millar could do it within the parameters of the actual Marvel Universe. But I didn't stick with book, and then all those delays happened, and I didn't care anymore. I finally got the trade of these stories, and I'm kind of glad I waited. The book was just sort of a letdown after awhile, and delays never help that.

3.) Fantastic Four #1 (1997)- As stated above, the FF comic was rebooted in 1996, as part of a great experiment to update the Marvel characters. Titled "Heroes Reborn", 4 Marvel titles were restarted in a universe that was separate from the regular marvel universe. Well, the experiment failed. The books were horrendous, fans were rightfully upset, and the heroes who were reborn quickly returned to the regular Marvel Universe. Fanboys put down their torches and shotguns, and peace returned to the land.

To further smooth relations with their fans, Marvel smartly put actual honest-to-goodness creators back on the big Marvel books. Kurt Busiek wrote the Avengers and Iron Man, Mark Waid went back to Captain America, and Scott Lobdell and artist Alan Davis came aboard for the Fantastic Four series (Thor even came back too!).

Although Scott and Alan only stayed on the book for 3 issues (ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? 3? Chalk it up to creative differences) , the excitement I had for this issue still remains today. I first read this comic on the campus of Michigan State University while waiting for my mom to get out of one of her Masters courses. I was in the lobby of one of the Halls feeling really out of place (since I was about 13 at the time), so I just buried my face in comics for like 2 hours.

There was just this feeling that with these creators aboard, the FF was going to be a real family oriented action-adventure book again, and not just some creative revamp for Jim Lee to play with (which is what Heroes Reborn was). The issue's opening scene has Ben test piloting a new invention for Reed, and then driving it into a snow bank and the Torch making fun of him. At the time, I loved it so much, and it was the best rendition of the Thing I had ever seen. I think Alan Davis is my favorite FF artist ever. Maybe even moreso than Kirby, which may be comic book "blasphemy."

However, years later, I bought the comic again for a dollar and I thought the story was kind of weak. But at the end of the issue, the FF saves France and the people yell "Vive La Fantastique!", which is the battlecry of this particular blog...a little bit of trivia for you, there.

4.) Essential Fantastic Four Volume 4 (published in 2005, purchased in 2006)- I had not bought a comic in about 7 years, due to the fact that I gave up on them during high school and a better part of college. I had moved to the campus of a university after attending a community college for a while, and I was looking for a hobby. I had been wondering whatever happened to all those old characters I used to read about, so I looked them up on google. After looking some stuff over on the ComicBookResources site, I brushed off the notion of reading comics again.

But as time went by, I started to look up more and more comics stuff online. I was intrigued, but disgusted by the price of comics. $3? Really? I told myself that they weren't worth it. And then one Friday night, I rode the bus to downtown Grand Rapids, and went to a quaint little bookstore (that was about 2 weeks from going under). It was there that I discovered the idea of a Marvel "Essential" volume- a collected edition with a lot of comics for a relatively small amount of money. The volume was $17 for about 20 issues, so I bought it, hoping that the Galactus story might be included somewhere. Well, I never did finish that volume (because old comics are really boring- I don't care what anyone says), but it did snowball me into buying NEW comics. So in a way, the FF brought me back to comics. I don't know if I should thank them or not, but that volume of comics has significantly directed my life for the past 4 years....

Wow, I'd never connected my purchase of that volume to my current state of existence, but it's true. Well, that's it for the personal stuff. I hope you have a clearer picture of why I would buy a box of 163 non sequential comic books featuring characters that I sometimes despise. Until next time, Vive la Fantastique!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fantastic Four #225

Fantastic Four #225- The Blind God's Tears
Cover Date: Dec 1980 Price:$ .50
Writer: Doug Monech Artists: Bill Sienkiewicz and Pablo Marcos

Story: I'm guessing that last issue something must have happened with mysterious red mist, because the FF are in an ice cave in the North Pole investigating the occurrence. The mists were throwing off the FF's powers, so they went investigating and found the cave and an accompanying city. They are talking with the god Korgon, who is about fifteen feet tall. Korgon is lying down on a giant bed because he is dying...and naturally, that's where the FF come in to help.

Korgon gives a ridiculously lengthy backstory about his existence. It seems he was once just a man, who loved the daughter of the king. Their love was forbidden, so they took off one night as star crossed lovers so often do. As they fled, a meteor crashed and irradiated the spot it crashed into. The radiation ended up killing Korgon's forbidden love and blinding him. Korgon called the whole incident with the meteor the Darkfield Illumination, because it blinded him in a normal sense but gave him strange glowing red eyes that showed him visions of evil things. Well, people around Korgon took to thinking he was a god and started worshipping him. You would think he would have denied it, but oh well...

Anyway, it turns out Korgon keeps his Arctic kingdom alive by using his "tears", or the energy that comes out of his glowing eyes, to power a machine that heat the caves and create a water cycle of heating, precipitation, and freezing. His mutated rains give the plants life and make for a sort of tropical oasis in the middle of the arctic. But now Korgon's powers are all out of whack, and if he can't "weep" into his machine, he and his city won't survive.

Meanwhile, in the mythical land of Asgard, the main Asgardian deity Odin watches the situation and mumbles the word "Loki." Odin tells his golden haired son Thor, the god of thunder in the Marvel Universe, that he has a job for him. Thor's a giant "daddy's boy", so he prepares to check out the scene.

At the arctic oasis, Reed gives Korgon his powers back by pulling energy from the "rain machine" and shooting it into Korgon. The FF then celebrate Korgon's renewed health with Korgon's followers in a scene of revelry that's not unlike a modern day rave. Sue Storm appears to be dancing on tables...she is quite spastic in these old comics. One moment' she's overwhelmed by the fact that her missions always turn violent, the next she's shaking it for some vikings in a cave.

Korgon refills his machine so that his followers can live, and then tells Reed he wants to become a man again. Reed says okay, and the two plan to reverse the process by sucking the energy out of Korgon. One of Korgon's followers hears of this plan, however, and formulates a plot to sabotage the whole affair.

Reed shoots Korgon with the machine that is supposed to take his powers, but it has been tampered with and gives Korgon more powers. Korgon goes a little crazy and tries to kill the heroes. Reed tries to reason with the god, but nothing short of the intervention of the mighty Thor saves the day. Thor tells Korgon to chill, and Odin appears in an apparition to tell Korgon that he was sabotaged, and that Korgon needs to accept that he is a god. Odin tells Korgon that being a god is about having followers, and finding a balance (kind of like writing a comics blog!). Odin then says that he is often sabotaged by his own son Loki, and that he wouldn't have it any other way. Well, he puts it differently, but you get the idea.

After the gods have their heart-to-heart, Korgon accepts that he needs to remain what he is, and that his followers need him. Korgon sends the FF and Thor on their merry ways, and the issue ends by promising a "Samurai Destroyer" would be coming next month!

What I thought: The more I think about it, the more ridiculous this issue's resolution is. The FF would have been dead without Thor. But there wasn't really a good reason for Odin to be monitoring the team's affairs. Korgon is not an Asgardian god, and the only thing Monech uses to explain Odin's watchful eyes is that Odin has "been there." It's kind of funny, really. When the two gods kind of talk things out, it reminds me of the end of an episode of Full House or something. Uncle Odin has to take little Korgon aside and the sappy piano music starts up to indicate the "moral commentary" portion of the show. As the two gods realize that it was miscommunication all along, the whole audience learns a lesson, and then Family Matters comes on...

I think the whole "Korgon's Alive!" party was really out of place, and the scenes where Korgon's followers keep threatening the FF in case anything goes wrong were unnecessary. But hey, this comic is not bad for being from 1980. It could have been a lot worse. And I like Thor, so it's cool to see him come in and beat people up. After all, he is a "warrior born."
Thanks for reading, and until next time, Vive la Fantastique!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fantastic Four #222

Fantastic Four#222- The Possession of Franklin Richards!
Cover Date: Sept. 1980 Price $.50
Writer: Doug Monech Artists: Bill Sienkiewicz and Joe Sinnott

Story: This issue opens with Reed inviting his young son Franklin to go to the library. Franklin says no thanks, and that he'd rather stay at the Baxter Building and play games with his mom, the Invisible Woman. The Thing enters and tells the gang that since Johnny is gone for the day, he is going to catch a movie. The stage is set, and everybody's got something to do, and it's all so productive.
Meanwhile, in quite a change of scenery, a demon named Nicholas Scratch is trapped in a dark dimension. Banished there by his mother Agatha Harkness, Scratch is pulled to a place where he feels energy escaping the dark place. He finds a small rift in the dark place that is connected to the Earth. The only catch? The rift is connected to the Earth through the Negative Zone, which is another dimension that the Fantastic Four discovered. They have the doorway to the Negative Zone in their house, can you all see where this is going?

Sue and Franklin are playing hide and seek in the Baxter Building, and Sue is actually setting a really bad example by cheating. She turns herself invisible and follows her son around, just to watch him and think.Sue reflects on the fact that because of her and Reed's irradiated blood, their son manifests powers in times of stress. That's why his babysitter, Agatha Harkness, has been taking care of him away from the Baxter building. As Franklin is looking for his cheater of a mother (I should get over that, but it's an official abuse of her fantastic powers....but I guess if I could turn invisible I would do a lot worse), he looks in the room with the Negative Zone portal, and is possessed by Scratch's mental powers, which are coming through the above mentioned rift.
Sue flips out and shoots the Fantastic Four flare (the FF's answer to a bat signal) out the window, and Reed, Ben, and Johnny all rush back to the scene. This was before cell phones and teleporters, so Ben takes a cab, Johnny flies away from his race car (subsequently forfeiting his race), and Reed creatively catches a ride with a news helicopter.
The team assembles and finds Frankie there possessed and destroying stuff. Reed sends Johnny to get Dr. Strange, and so he flies to the Doc's house. The Doc is out, but his assistant Wong is home and asks if he can help. Johnny brushes off Wong and readers everywhere are forced to have pity on the assistant for a number of reasons. Johnny comes back and tells Reed the Doctor's out, and they realize they can just take Frankie to see Agatha, because she's a witch and she can deal with crazy situations like this.

They take Frankie to see Agatha, and they all decide to have a seance (!!!????) to figure out the problem. A dude named Gabriel intervenes, having found out about the situation from an informant that was watching Dr. Strange's house. Gabriel recognizes the Demon, and Scratch identifies himself in a moment straight out of the Exorcist. The issue ends with Scratch telling the FF they can only get their son back if they take the body to the town of New Salem, so Scratch can escape. He has the team right where he wants them, because only he can re open the portal to the Negative Zone and free Frankie.

Thoughts: This story had everything going for it, until the seance part. Stuff like that creeps me out in comics. It's just not a very heroic course of action, in my opinion. I'd like to think the FF could do better than that. But overall, this story is tightly paced, and although many of the things that happen to move the story forward (such as Ben walking out on the movie early cause it was so bad just as the Fantastic Flare was in the air) were convenient, they were at least logical. The art in this book was really well done. Sienkiewicz and Sinnott are modern day legends of the comic book industry, so no surprise there.

Fantastic First!

I promise I'll keep the alliteration to a minimum...Anyway, welcome to Four Freedoms Plaza! This site has been established with one intended purpose, which is to entertain readers with reviews of various issues of the comic book Fantastic Four, which has been faithfully published by Marvel Comics since 1961.
For those of you who don't know, the Fantastic Four comic follows a group of four people who decided to steal a rocket, got bathed with cosmic space radiation, and gained special powers. The group decided to use their powers to fight crime and make the world a better place.

Reed Richards, a.k.a Mr. Fantastic, can stretch his body in an infinite number of ways. His hottie wife Susan Storm Richards gained the power to turn invisible and make invisible force fields, which led her to take on the name Invisible Woman (ok, originally she was the Invisible Girl, but this is the condensed version!). Sue's "hot headed" brother Johnny Storm gained the ability to turn his body into a type of living flame, and he was dubbed the Human Torch. Finally, rounding out the four is Jewish jokester Benjamin Grimm. Ben's transformation due to the cosmic radiation turned his skin rocky and orange all over, while at the same time making it nigh invulnerable. As his physical appearance being changed into what some would describe as "monstrous", Benjamin J. Grimm became known as "The Thing." The 4 members balance each other in power and personality, and act together first as a family, and secondly as a group of heroes. And a collective "awwwwww" comes over the crowd because of the power of family unity.

Thankfully the 4 decided to use their powers for good, resulting in a ton of hit-or-miss superhero comics, a plethora of toys, a bevy of ridiculous video games, some cliched but faithfully translated cartoons, and at least 2 awfully disappointing feature films.

A Personal Aside
I feel as if I should mention that the true impetus for me starting this blog is not my enjoyment of the Fantastic Four, but the fact that I just came into possession of 163 issues of the series in one lump sum. I figured as I've made this type of commitment to the series, it might be interesting to chronicle how the storylines and characters change over the course of time. Given that the issues are not in perfect sequential order, and they stretch from 1980 to the present, a unique opportunity for me as a comic book blogger has presented itself.

That's not to say I don't like the Fantastic Four. Throughout my life as a comic collector (on and off for about 15 years), the Fantastic Four has been a book I've both cherished and reviled. It is one of the few titles that I will come back for time and time again, with periods of intense interest soon to be followed periods of "drought" where I'll deny any connection the book. As for now, I'm deeply interested in the book. Hopefully it will be that way for a while.

I also think I should mention that my favorite member of the FF is Reed Richards, but The Thing is close to taking over this spot.
Finally, I think I should mention that Four Freedoms Plaza was once the team's base of operations. So consider yourself informed. Thanks for reading!