It’s One-Shot Showdown! In which I compare the merits of two Fantastic Four related one-shots and render a verdict as to which one’s better. All decisions are final, written in stone, and utterly absolute…something around here has to be, right?
Today’s Theme: Humor
1982’s Fantastic Four Roast
2009’s Marvel TV: Galactus: The Real Story
Did you know there are some FF specials specifically written as satire?... neither did I. Not until searching some back listings of my favorite eBay store did I discover that these two issues even existed. And perhaps after we place them head-to-head, we’ll find some explanation for such graphic novel anonymity. Without further ado…Fight!
Fantastic Four Roast:
The plot: Fred Hembeck (apparently he’s a writer/artist) emcees a roast to celebrate 20 years of Marvel’s First Family. The entire population of crappy early 1980’s Marvel Universe make appearances, each with his/her individual take on the FF. Overall wackiness ensues as we discover that someone is out to get the FF.
+ This is honestly one of the strangest FF-inspired comic books I’ve ever seen. Its very existence makes it a must-read for a collector such as this reviewer.
+ This comic book is for anyone who has a working knowledge of the Marvel Universe, and doesn’t take it too seriously. Jokes about “peeping Uatu”, Dr. strange being so boring that his speech puts everyone to sleep, and Moon Knight being a Batman rip-off give this book the perfect amount of tongue-in-cheek.
+ Despite the humorous nature of the book, there was a huge cast of artists who do some pretty impressive interiors, as well as a cool two-page pin up of all the Marvel heroes.
- Well, obviously the fact that this based in a time period when “roasts” were actually pretty common place totally dates this book.
- Like many older comics, the writing can be a bit verbose. With my modern attention span and comedic tastes, I’m used to a little more brevity.
- Fred Hembeck’s not as compelling as he believes.
And since you’re probably in the throes of curiosity, here are some scans:
Marvel TV: Galactus: The Real Story
The Plot: Think “TMZ meets the Marvel Universe” and you have the main contents of this comic. The idea is that much like the moon landing, there is a large section of the population of the Marvel Universe that believes that the giant purple planet-devouring villain known Galactus is actually a hoax. Interviews with the Wingless Wizard, a certain blurred out Avenger with a purple costume and bow and arrows, and a man claiming to be Galactus himself all help to posit various theories about the true nature of the purple destroyer.
+ This comic has a quick comedic pace and some good visual gags. The blurred out Avenger is obviously Hawkeye, and as he is interviewed you can clearly see another picture of him on his wall behind his blurred visage.
+ This comic does a good job of incorporating the Marvel Universe as a whole into the whole Galactus conversation. There is even talk of a secret Illuminati that has orchestrated all the events in the Marvel Universe that consists of Beta Ray Bill, Dazzler, Puck, Deadpool, and Lockjaw.
+ The mock ads, skewed re-enactments of the FF’s history featuring rather ugly actors, and various conspiracy theories provided about Galactus aid this book in a consistent tabloid television-like feel.
- The cover is taken exactly from the splash page. That just screams “rush job from editorial” to me.
- Not really the story’s fault, but there is also a reprint of Fantastic Four #50 in the back of the book. It’s nice to see Kirby work in colored form, but it just seems like filler in this instance.
Upon second look, these books both proved to really have some laugh out loud (or at the least chuckle out loud) moments, but I’m going to go with the Fantastic Four Roast comic. While both of these one-shots are products of their respective times, and “tabloid exposes” such as the Marvel TV issue will probably seem dated down the road, the name of the game ultimately is "funny." The Fantastic Four Roast is joke-after-joke, done in such a flamboyantly farcical manner that no part of the story that takes itself seriously. While you may be hard pressed to remember the gags of the Roast issue specifically, it serves to make you take a second look. So if you’re ever faced with the dilemma of only being able to choose one these books, you can now make an informed decision. Until I find a Disco themed Fantastic Four one-shot from the 1970’s, Vive le Fantastique!