Monday, July 5, 2010

Staying Current- Fantastic Four #580

Fantastic Four #580-"The Frank-Tastic Four"
Cover Date: 2010 Price $3.99 (because I had to buy the newsstand edition!)
Cover Tagline :"I promise...I've Given Up On Games Of Murder
Writer/Artist: Jonathan Hickman/ Neil Edwards

What Happened: We open the issue with the image of someone holding an invitation to the debut of a new toy line at a local toy store. The toy line features products with the likeness of the Impossible Man, the green skinned Fantastic Four ally with the same shapeshifting powers and annoying demeanor of the DC Comics hero Plastic Man.

We find that the person holding the invite is none other than young Franklin Richards, the son of Reed and Susan Richards. Frankie is sitting with his mutant friend named Leech, one of the filthy wretched Morlocks whom the Fantastic Four recently adopted. The two decide they're tired of waiting to leave for Arcade Toys, and it's time to go.

We cut to Reed Richards, talking to the "Future Foundation", his new think-tank of young super geniuses. The purpose of the group is to solve the world's greatest problems, and Reed and the "FF" are discussing the first issue they want to tackle. Reed mentions that he is surprised that the group chose the subject they did, and before the readers are let in on what this means Franklin enters. Reed, being the world's greatest father (to Valeria), gives his son the brush off in light of the group's work. He tells his son that Johnny will accompany the two, and the following soul crushing scene occurs:

A dejected Franklin meets up with his Uncle, who consoles the child and teaches him to drown his sorrow by spending Reed's money.(Johnny also ominously mentions that he'll never have kids, which is the theme of this month's FF annual) As Johnny, Leech, and Franklin marvel at the size of "Arcade Toys", Johnny is alarmed by the presence of the villain known as Arcade! Arcade, a former X-Men villain whose shtick involved placing heroes in elaborate death traps he controlled like a video game, scolds Johnny for behaving so brutishly. Before Johnny can do any harm, the aforementioned annoying jade alien known as the Impossible Man appears and tells him no to be so confrontational. Arcade explains that he has given up games of murder, and that he and the Impossible Man are out to make some scratch by selling toys. The toys are made with little pieces of the Impossible Man's D.N.A., and have the same malleable qualities as Impy himself. As the kids in the toy store start clamoring for the toys as fervently in a toy store, Arcade decides that it's time for one more "little" death trap. The play things in the store start coming to life and attacking the patrons, and the little mutant Leech gets knocked out by some debris. Franklin, understandably upset, uses his recently restored mental powers to bring a stuffed dinosaur to life. He tells his uncle to fry the rest of the toys, and Johnny obliges. With the threat thwarted so quickly, the Impossible Man tells Johnny that he'll wrangle up Arcade. Case closed, I guess....

We cut back to the Future Foundation, who have invited Ben Grimm to come and join them. They tell the ever lovin blue eyed Thing that their first order of business is to solve the one problem Reed Richards never could: being able to change him back to his human form. The members of the foundation go on to scientifically explain the reasoning, but the gist of it is that the Thing will be able to change back, but only for one week out of every year. The Thing decides that one week out of 52 is worth it, and decides to take the cure.

(I should add that this issue had another two page interlude featuring the history of Nu-World, but I have no idea what the scenes mean to the story yet.)

What I thought: This issue was fun, but it's a bit of a detour from the high concept work Hickman has been doing. I liked seeing Arcade, a villain I've never really read about, but the reasoning for him attacking his customers as well as the resolution to the story are left unexplained. And as far as the Thing being able to transform....we've seen this story many times before.

This issue, much like December's 574, seem like stops along a much bigger road. For me, the most interesting dynamic I see coming to light is the sibling rivalry between Franklin and Valeria. As a super genius, Valeria is taking a lot of her father's attention, while Franklin is more of the nurturing type like his mother. Unfortunately, with Sue spending so much time as the human ambassador to the Old Kings of Atlantis, poor Franklin is getting the short end of the stick.

And I would be remiss not to mention that Neil Edwards did a great job with the art in this issue. Although he only has one more issue left, I wouldn't mind if he stayed on the book for good. He reminds me of a mixture of Scott Eaton and Bryan Hitch.

Well, now you're current with the FF. I made it in on time this month! Until I start getting these reviews done on the same day the issues are released, vive le fantastique!


  1. "Leech, one of the filthy wretched Morlocks" HA!!! It's funny 'cause it's true!! I was thisclose to picking this issue up at the CB store today, but I went with the annual instead, and I can honestly say, even before I read the annual, I made the right choice! I HATE Arcade! He's sort of like Marvel's version of the Mad Hatter... Completely useless! With that said, I humbly apologize to any Arcade fans out there...

    So Ben will be able to turn human for one week out of the year now... That seems kind of strange... If they can change him back, why can't they keep him human? Weird... But with Ben able to become human for 7 days, and as such become vulnerable, you don't think Ben(in human form)would be the one to go during the Three storyline? THAT would be a pretty big shocker.

  2. YES,YES,YES X-Man! You're starting to ask all the right questions...I can feel the FF slowly pulling you in, despite the brief (and strange) appearance of Arcade.

    You're Mad Hatter analogy was quite apt, as they are both strange little men who force others to live in their weird fantasy worlds. I've never noticed those similarities before.

    I didn't go into the reasoning behind Ben not being able to change at will because I didn't want to confuse everyone with the pseudo-science of it. Basically he has been the rocky Thing so long that his body is resistant to a constant shift between his rocky and human forms. So now it will only chnge for the week, and then it kicks back to the rocky form. I know that doesn't make it much more clear, hahaha.

    And yes, I also pondered whether Ben may be the one to die during 3. With Hickman tying everything together the way he is, he's setting up all the characters for a fall. They're all coming into their own personal vulnerabilities.

    Good or bad, I can't wait to chat about the annual!

  3. Well Kello, you've finally done it... Next time I head to the comic book store, I'm going to put the FF on my pull list! All of this FF talk has made me forget about the pure, unadulterated horror that was Mark Millar's run, and has me hungry to read the World's Greatest Comic Magazine again! Oh, btw, you seem to be gaining QUITE the following here.

    Don't worry, after reading hundreds of FF comics, I can take a little bit of crazy pseudo-science! And I think your explanation cleared up my confusion perfectly. So basically Ben's been a pile of rocks for so long that his body thinks that's his regular form, and as such will always shift back to that form... Right?!?

    I'm actually going to read that annual tonight after I sign off, so let me know when you get your copy/read it so we can go over it. Vive le fantastique!

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought Neil Edwards has the power to stay a few more rounds then he's booked for. He's definitely more than just an 'in-between artist' in this book now.

    I love the addition of the Future Foundation and like you say, watching how it affects Frank and Val is going to be sweet, but I'm taking a bit getting used to an intelligent Dragon Man.

    Nice post!

  5. Dan- Artists like Edwards always amaze me, because they never seem to get much recognition, but they usually end up being the ones companies count on when the "big names" are behind on work.

    Val is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters, because she's poised to surpass Reed in intellect. That can't be healthy for someone her age.

    Thanks for taking time to check out the site!