Saturday, September 25, 2010

ZOMG Cheap Comics!

Hello FFans,

Your thrifty friend Kello here, to tell you that from September 25-30 there is a "Back to School" sale on a bunch of great comics over at Things From Another World. Most of the sale items are considered "nick and dent", which means they have some wear or tear. Although it may sound like the site is going to sell you a bunch of junk, I have bought these items and found no noticeable differences in quality.

I just spent about $100 and got 13 trades (including newer Captain America, Thor, and Punisher collections!) and 28 single issues.

And yes, there are plenty of FF comics on sale, too. Happy hunting!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"3" Starts this Week

Hey FFans, Kello here with a quick reminder that the year's biggest(and I'm hoping best) Fantastic Four storyline, "Three", is set to begin this Wednesday with the release of issue #583. And as incentive to all you FF holdouts, I will guarentee that this arc will have both Dr. Doom, and absolutely awesome art (by Steve Epting). If that's not enough, then you should probably stop just reading Marvel Comics and go get something from Image.

Check out the cover's countdown below (it says "Countdown to Casualty 4,3,2,1"), apparently death has never been this expected!

Oh, and check out the variant by Art Adams!

So......Who's in?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fantastic Four #307

Fantastic Four #307- “Good-bye”
Cover Date/ Price: Oct 1987 $.75
Writer/ Artist- Steve Englehart/ John Buscema/ Joe Sinnott
Cover Tagline: “To Duel With Diablo”
Number of issues between last box pull: 10

What Happened: This fine looking issue starts with a trio of terrifically dressed travelers: Reed Richards, Sue Richards, and Franklin Richards as they get ready to depart from their lives as superheroes. It seems in the issues since I last read from “the box,” Reed and Sue have decided that it would be in the best interests of their young son to move to Connecticut and live a “normal” life.

As the Richards’ spend a few pages saying their goodbyes, we see that the Fantastic Four will continue on with some slight changes in membership. The new lineup will consist of Ben Grimm as the team leader, the Human Torch, the element controlling Inhuman known as Crystal, and the female powerhouse known as Ms. Marvel.

An unexpected lineup for sure, but it brings to mind a question: Which of these characters is the genius-level intellect that serves as a good replacement for Reed? The last time I checked, Crystal wasn’t very close to making her own ultimate nullifier…

Reed tells the Thing that he has earned the right to command the team, and Ben makes the former Mr. Fantastic promise that he won’t come back to save the day the first time the new team falters.

Meanwhile, Johnny flies off to go see his WIFE (I didn’t review that one, apparently…) Alicia Masters, and the two have a scintillating discussion about when the furniture for their apartment will arrive. I only mention it because it has some relevance later.

We cut to a scene at the hospital, where the super villain known as Diablo lies in head-to-toe bandages after being beaten in a near coma by Ms. Marvel last issue. While the doctors talk about the villains wounds, his thoughts reveal that he’s got another trick up his sleeve, well, actually another trick up his moustache.

Apparently Diablo keeps his magic potions all over his body, and he sucks on his moustache to give him a real pick-me-up (I don’t write em folks, I just read em…). The revived Diablo gives us a little history lesson about his life, and it turns out he is the master of Alchemy from a time long past. After he reminisces, he stands and swears revenge on Ms. Marvel…

We cut back to Johnny and Alicia’s love-nest, where the young man is startled by a loud crashing sound. It seems that an audio speaker has fallen into a glass table. Alicia feels embarrassed for breaking it, and swears the table wasn’t there a second ago (I guess her “radar sense” from issue #296 wore off). As Johnny uses his power to weld the glass back together, a purple monster emerges from the table! It turns out the table was possessed. Apparently the whole city is sharing this same wackiness, as the ground outside starts breaking apart and growing tentacles. Johnny decides this is a job for the Fantastic Four and rushes Alicia to safety at FF Plaza…

The new FF groups together, and Crystal realizes that the whole city transmuting could only be the work of the Diablo. As the team surveys the changes taking form, they see that the hospital where Diablo was staying has now taken the form of an old timey castle. As Ben and Ms. Marvel (who goes by the name Sharon Ventura at this point in comic continuity) attack the front door, Johnny and Crystal fly ahead to scout out what’s going on. While the Thing fights alongside the super strong Ms. Marvel, his thoughts reveal that an ongoing attraction for the red clad hottie. Distracted by her raucous attitude and taut bod, the Thing gets blindsided by one of Diablo’s monsters. Let this be a lesson, if you want to keep your head in the game, always hire an uggo to join your superteam instead of a stone cold fox…

We find Johnny and Crystal having similar luck, as the two former lovers argue with one another as they fight Diablo’s machinations inside the castle. Crystal is edgy because she is undergoing a rough patch in her own marriage, and Johnny is worried that she wants to impose upon his recent marriage to Alicia Masters. The two yell at each other some more, and Crystal runs off to face Diablo alone. Just then, Ben and Sharon break in, and the team joins up to face Diablo together.

The FF corner Diablo, and just as he is about to pull another potion from his moustache (So. Incredibly. Lame), Ms. Marvel grabs him and foils his dastardly plan. The big D gives up, and much like the ending to an episode of Scooby-Doo, he is quickly carted away by the authorities. If it wasn’t for those meddling superheroes….

We end the issue with the team chillaxin at FF Plaza (because that’s what people do there!), noting that they once they actually worked together like a team, Diablo didn’t stand a chance. You think most of these characters would have learned that lesson about 300 issues ago, but I guess it’s always nice for a refresher….

What I Thought: I honestly NEVER knew about this incarnation of the team, and that made it a total blast to read this issue. Although a lot of time is spent with Reed and Sue saying goodbye, there is an actually feeling that they’re leaving the team for a while. Of course, any real comics fan knows that a team member’s departure is going to be short lived, but it always livens things up to bring in some new blood for a while.

I will say that in reality, a person probably wouldn’t assemble a team of exes to serve alongside them in their superheroic purposes. While it lends itself to drama for the readers, I’m just a little unsure that a group like this would work out. It’s almost too much of a forced soap opera spin, but at least in this instance I was kind of hooked.

Overall, this issue felt like a really entertaining Saturday morning cartoon. There are some interesting little character interactions, we get the villain’s backstory in a quickie flashback (which is great because I didn’t know anything about Diablo), and the “fight” is wrapped up in a neat little package. There’s even the whole “lesson” type epilogue, a la “Saved by the Bell.”

I haven’t looked ahead to see which issue is next from “the box,” but I hope it still features this team. While I don’t think I’ll ever stomach an FF team that features a full time aberration of the original lineup, I always like to see the rise and fall of these substitute teams. So until Diablo decides to shave off his moustache, vive le fantastique!

Hello Nurse!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Staying Current(ish) Fantastic Four #581

Fantastic Four 581:“When Everything’s Lost, the Battle is Won”
Cover Date/Price : September 2010 $3.99 (still bitter about the newsstand price….)
Writer/Artist: Johnathan Hickman/ Neil Edwards
Cover Tagline: “All Hope Lies in Doom”

(Editor’s Note- As the famous line says, “brevity is the soul of wit.” …Well, I just got the memo. So I’ll try and keep this post as short as I can, while still giving you a maximum dosage of FF-related goodness.)

What Happened: This issue starts off with a nod to issue #574 (as well as a glimpse into the future!), which featured Franklin’s birthday party. In that issue, a future version of Franklin visited his younger self and the younger version of his sister Valeria and distributed some B-day “gifts.” To his sister, the older Franklin revealed the war of the 4 cities was coming, and to himself he restored his mutant world shaping powers. I guess Val got the short end of the stick on that one.

We catch up with future Frank and find out he’s in cahoots with future Val. While this reveal isn’t huge in nature, it at least tells us Val lives to see tomorrow(and grows up to be a stunner).

As far as big reveals, the next page shows who’s really pulling the temporal strings…

… it’s none other than Nathaniel Richards, the time-hopping father of Mr. Fantastic (and grandpa to Franklin and Val)!
It appears Grandpa Richards has some scheme going, and future Franklin is creating a pocket dimension for them all to escape into once the plan has been enacted.

We cut to a scene in the distant past at the world famous “State University.” Within a class a lively ethical debate rages between two students, Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom. On the subject of “what is right?”, Reed offers that what is best for all is right, while Doom posits that not all are equal, so what is best for the upper echelon is what’s best.

As Reed leaves his lecture, he meets up with his best friend and possible Archie comic reject (look at that sweater!) Ben Grimm. As Ben and Reed have the cliché “you’re not going to spend all weekend in the lab!” jock-to-nerd discussion, a man suddenly teleports into the room with them. It turns out that it’s everybody’s favorite time altering deadbeat dad, and by-default star of this review, Nathaniel Richards!

Nathaniel reveals that he has been involved in a temporal mishap, which involved an exploding “quantum power source.” Because he was near the source of the power, every Nathaniel Richards from every reality was transported to the same point in time, hundreds of thousands of years in the future. In this time, the villain known as Immortus ruled the Earth.

As the resident “time cop”, Immortus declared that all the Nathaniels in one time period was bad for reality as a whole and that much like Highlander, there could “be only one.” So in other words, it was open season on all Nathaniel Richards, and the “great hunt” began, with Nathaniel Richardses (not a typo) killing themselves off left and right. vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Wichardses! And now we get to the crux of the matter: there are only two Nathaniel Richards’ left, and now they are headed for a showdown.

Reed, being dismayed by the news that his own dad is going to fight himself to the death, says that maybe Victor can help. He goes to Doom for help, and Doom makes him grovel accordingly.

Doom gives Ben Grimm a power suit to wear (a nice nod to his future as the Thing), while he dons a familiar looking piece of protective headgear.

The crew heads to the future and finds the alternate Nathaniel Richards waiting for them….

What I Thought: Since the beginning of the “Heroic Age”, the stories in this book have taken on a much smaller scope. I know Hickman is actually in the middle of a big 30 issue arc that he mapped out, but after last month’s “filler-esque” Arcade issue, this plot feels a bit generic as well. But with this issue tying into #574 (which seemed like filler when I read it in December), and the mysterious quantum power source mishap that Nathaniel mentioned, I have a feeling this story is going to pay off at some point down the road.

Having that said, it was still a decent read. The characterizations of Doom and Reed in college were perfect, if not predictable, with each taking that hard idealist line for his own cause. Hickman writes one smug and arrogant Doom, with a certain sense of charm that makes you want to read about him more. It’s reminiscent of Lex Luthor: the guy’s a jerk, but you love to hate him.

I should just do a “cut and paste” review of the art for every month that Neil Edwards stays on this book, because he is consistently great. With this issue, Edwards officially moved beyond a “fill-in” in my mind, and has my sincere vote for the ongoing artist whenever it is Steve Epting leaves. With increasing shades of Bryan Hitch and Michael Turner, Edwards has the ability to successfully mix realistic character design with a science fiction frame. The one thing I will say against Edwards is that many of his panels have little to no background art, but even this helps to focus on the characters a little more.

Overall, this was pretty standard FF-Fare. But that’s not a slam. With good Doom moments, an easy to follow plot, and a quick sense of pacing, I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing who will come out victorious in the “great hunt.” I’m guessing the winner will be Nathaniel Richards, but don’t hold me to that. So until all my alternate reality duplicates have a fight to the death, vive le fantastique!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Poll Results: Favorite Non-Doom Villain

Welcome once again as we here at Four Freedoms pontificate upon the outcome of another pulse pounding poll! (by popular demand of course). I’m happy to report that there were 11, count em 11, votes on the latest question! I do believe with the double-digit turnout we may have set a new record for traffic here at the site. Hahaha, I kid, I kid….ok, not really.

Knowing that Dr. Doom transcends the bounds of being a FF-only villain (and thus would have an unfair advantage in terms of popularity), the previous poll asked “Who is your favorite Non-Doom FF villain?” The choices were between Psycho-Man, Puppet Master, Annihilus, Galactus, and Mole Man. With 7 of the 11 votes, Galactus absolutely “devoured” the competition!

To be honest, I was quite worried when I first posed the question, because Galactus got off to such a strong lead that I thought no other ne'er do well would garner a single vote. But thankfully we have some diverse tastes amongst our readers, and Puppet Master, Annihilus, and the Mole Man were shown some love.

Personally, I voted for Galactus. While I have a strange affinity for the Puppet Master (mainly due to the fact that he looks like a deranged version of Dopey from Snow White), I would much rather read a story that features the audacious purple helmeted “devourer of worlds” than some bald dude with clay.

I think the character design is what really draws me to the Big G, because he is a monstrosity in every sense of the word. His whole “larger than life” concept is really driven home by the fact that the heroes he interacts with are seemingly inconsequential to him. He’s condescending on a universal scale, and it’s kind of cool.

So to all who voted, thanks! If you feel comfortable sharing who you picked and why, please leave a comment. And I would be remiss to not plug our brand new poll, which asks “Favorite supporting FF character?” Until Galactus becomes a vegan, vive le fantastique!
(got the Galactus image Here)