Marvel’s 100th Anniversary
Fantastic Four #1
w. Jen Van Meter
a. Joanna Estep
5 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because, normally I shy away from events like this. I mean it’s barely past the company’s 75th Anniversary,and their pretending it’s the hundredth. So their taking their characters and giving us a glimpse of them (or there descendents) as if it was 2061 (for FF) in our time and the title carried on. I’m sure this has nothing whatsoever to do with DC’s Future’s End Storyline (Hey DC’s jumping five years ahead in September, What should we do? Jump over 50 years ahead… an we’ll put it out in July!) So by my estimation (and assuming they return to original series numbering during or after the Robinson/Kirk run) this should be considered Fantastic Four #1187.
But despite my negativity towards such a gimmick, I read an interview with Jen Van Meter that really sold it for me (at least this FF one!) and I grudgingly grabbed it off the shelf.
In the interview, Jen stated that when she received the assignment, she didn’t want to do just your standard title-in-the-future one shot story, and she wanted to showcase an event (as would be the norm in the comic industry to celebrate an anniversary… when they actually get to it). The event that came to mind was the reunion of the Original Fantastic Four. This lead to her writing reams of back story filling in the time between now and then, including crossover events, editorial mandates (from imaginary editors), roster change ups, and references to issues that don’t exist (yet!). The sheer amount of thought and energy she put into it impressed me, both as a writer and as a fan, so I caved and got it.
And Van Meter did not disappoint!
The story opens up with a flash back to fifteen years ago (around issue 1,007, in 2046 ) in which Reed Richards, and his teammates Doctor Doom, Johnny Storm and his son Franklin, apparently die in a dimensional explosion, after being branded criminals and hunted by the authorities. Government forces have taken Ben and Sue captive.
Flash-forward to 2061 and the Fantastic Four; consisting of the Gamma Twins, Trin and Kirby Richards-Banner, Victoria Harkness, the Enchantress (and wait til you see who her grandpa is!!) and Lee Minh Cam, the Human Torch, (seriously, Jen gets big fan points for having a duo named Kirby and Lee on this team, nice nod and wink, Ms. Van Meter!), are in the middle of a mission to save a Neolunar Orbital Colony from Lunarian Tempusects when a transmission from Mission Control (Valeria Richards) is interrupted by none other than the presumed dead Reed Richards.
When Valeria relates this to an aged Sue Richards, now living on a palatial estate/high-tech prison, Sue is not surprise at all… “No one destroys our family… No One!” She says as her and Valeria escape. Next stop, freeing the Thing from his prison: an experimental bunker where he lay in an induced coma for the past fifteen years. What happens next is some high sci-fi adventure that leads to a touching reunion, an interesting back story for the missing members lost time, and a cool ending… with a surprise guess star (who just happens to be gestating in the core of the Earth’s new moon) that is worthy of a hundred anniversary issue!
Van Meter really captured the flavor of the Fantastic Four, keeping true to the family/adventure dynamic that Kirby and Lee started, and continuing the epic high-end sci-fi concepts and adult superhero intrigue that latter writers like, Hickman, Robinson, and others have so perfectly grafted onto the original concept of the F.F.
Here! For the first time! The real, honest to god, actual true origin of Nick Fury. Army Ranger. CIA Agent. Agent of SHIELD. Director of SHIELD. And… The Man Who Guards the Wall????? Read all about Nick Fury’s secret side job he’s been carrying on since 1958. See how Aaron ties this wonderfully to Hickman’s SHIELD series with Dustin Weaver! And why does everything the aged Nick Fury reveals about his past makes it seem more and more like he was the one who committed the crime that started this all??? Did Nick Fury kill the Watcher??? Oh My GOD! You have to read this series!
Magneto #6 $3.99
w. Cullen Bunn a. Javier Fernandez
The Gist: Magneto is hunting down mutant killers right? Well what if he comes across mutants who’ve been killing mutants? Hmm? Magneto get some intel from his new human assistant Briar Raleigh (who is not the side-kick she seems!) on the location of the Marauders, the team of killers sent by Mister Sinister to slaughter the Morlocks during the Mutant Massacre in New York City’s sewers. Now Magneto’s off to get some pay back. One problem: Marauders come off a genetic assembly line created by Mr.Sinister. When a Marauder dies, they are replaced by a ready-made clone. Mentally programmed by Sinister to hunt and kill mutants, it seems like a futile effort, until you see Magneto’s genius plan for dealing with them. Bunn is a top-notch writer and this book is one the most interesting monthly reads out there now.
Superman Unchained #7
w. Scott Snyder
a. Jim Lee
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Despite its chronic delays, as well a being abruptly demoted from an ongoing to a nine issue mini series, I can’t help but love this book. Snyder and Lee are creating a classic Superman run as we speak. When you take the break out writer of the past few years, and one of the most influential comic artists in the past decade, what would you expect?
With Snyder capturing the more withdrawn, alien Superman of the New 52 so well, and Jim Lee’s continued excellence, Superman Unchained, when completed and collected in trade, will join All Star Superman, Superman: For Tomorrow and Red Son as one of those perennial stories that are easy sales for retailers when someone asks ” What’s a good Superman story?”, and an easy borrow to pull off the shelf and lend to your buddy when he ask the same question.
This issue… all out war!! Batman keeps the Wraith ( The governments own “Superman”, discovered in 1938 and raised and trained in secret by The Machine, a branch of the government adapting all the tech and science that came with Wraith when he landed on Earth, into weaponry for a post human war) busy in the Batcave, donning a suit Batman made to hide from Superman and throwing everything he has at him… literally, …it’s a good thing Bat’s has all those Batmobiles lying around!
Even with an assist from Wonder Woman (and a giant penny!), things are looking pretty dim for the two heroes. Wraith cannot be stopped…
Meanwhile, Superman and Lois Lane are holed up in the Fortress of Solitude, trying to do their best to keep the Earthstone crystal from Lois’ father, General Sam Lane. The good General has brought his Dogs of War and Screaming Eagles of Doom to bear on the Fortress of Solitude, and to the tune of some Death Metal music, is going to wage war against the Kryptonian, with all the advance alien killing tech he has at his disposal, unless the Man of Steel surrenders the Earthstone….and his Fortress!
Not willing to make that sacrifice, Kal dons a Kryptonian war-suit and goes on the offensive! Remember that War-suit from the 90’s?, the purple Transformer with an eagle on its chest? Yeah, this isn’t that! Yet another Jim Lee masterpiece!!
But even if he defeats Sam Lane and his Machine, can he make it to the Batcave in time to save the love of his life and his best friend?? Read the book and find out
Earth 2 #25. $3.99
w. Tom Taylor a. Nicola Scott
The Gist: Rise Val-Zod! The new Superman of Earth 2 puts aside his pacifist ways and joins the World Army Resistance force in their battle to save the planet from the second invasion of Apokolips. But is he too late? An army of Parademons, led by an angry masochist god is close to crushing the last of Earth’s defenders, as well as Green Lantern, Flash and Hawkgirl. Meanwhile, the Apokoliptan Warlord, the former Superman of Earth 2 now resurrected and under Darkseid’s influence sits down to dinner in Kansas with his captive parents, and Lois Lane (at least her consciousness in Red Tornado’s body)… a meal that ends with one of them dead! The march to World’s End begins here!
East of West #13
w. Jonathan Hickman
a. Nick Dragotta
5 out 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Because the opening splash page is a flash-photo like rendering of an exploding skull, belonging to a Native American Shaman, assassinated in the dead land known as the Sea of Bones with a bullet fired from a semi-sentient dog rifle by an out of retirement lawman from miles away from his target. Yep. Chew that one over in your brain-hole.
The Shaman had it coming though, as a servant of the Chosen; the leaders of the Seven Nations of North America sworn to follow the Message and bring about the end of the world, he deserved the bullet he got from the Lawman. A man of justice from a by-gone era, he was hired by a former member of the Chosen to take them out. But the Shaman was one of the few people in the world who knows the location of Death’s son, who they hope to manipulate into becoming the Beat of Revelations, and he was just about to tell Death where they keep him.
He lost an eye to get that information, and now, his son possibly lost to him forever, Death wants revenge and heads off into a deadly chase and gun battle with the legendary Lawman, leaving his lieutenants, Crow and Wolf behind. And they have they’re hands full as well. The two shaman-warriors are all that stand between the horrifying Gods of the Deadlands and the passage way the Shaman’s death has carved into our world.
Hickman and Dragotta have a synergy that’s a marvel to behold. Each page and Panel is carefully constructed and filled with Hickman’s hyper-sharp intelligent writing, and bursting with Dragotta’s dynamically fluid artwork. It’s page after page of pure awesome! The two creators constantly evolve and impress on this book, building towards a crescendo I can’t wait to see occur. Death is riding to the rescue of his child, heaven help those who stand in his way.!
Big Trouble in Little China #2
Boom Studios $3.99
The Gist: Actually, I’d like to just quote the book here, showing how it captures the flavor and humor of the original movie. You should just get it anyway and laugh your ass off, but here’s a little taste:
Eight Foot Chinese Jade Demon: “I have seen the Emperors of Steel, Earth, Wind Water and Flame!!! The spear tips of their armies glinting like an ocean of stars across the field of battle. I have seen the night sky burning orange and blue with Dragon fire!! “
Jack Burton: “I once saw a cigar smoking pig ride a unicycle in the back of a Missouri truckstop. You Don’t see me yappin’ about it. “
After that its just more truck driving through Chinese astral planes, dealing with demons and fighting monkey warriors and glimpses into Jack’s romantic past.
Worth every penny!
Last Week’s Surprise Pick:
New Avengers Annual #1
w. Frank Barbiere
a. Marco Rudy
5 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Why?: Because Barbiere an Rudy fill in a gap Hickman left open in his New Avengers run. A few issues ago Doctor Strange took leave of his fellow Illuminati and went on a dangerous quest to find a source of power great enough to stop an Incursion, the repeated destruction of alternate dimensions as their Earth’s space-time collides with ours. Strange recently returned, brimming with eldritch energies of demonic proportions. Now this quest is presented to us by this great creative team.
Barbiere tells Strange’s tale of traveling to Tibet, to help a group of techno-monks. One of their own have become possessed by a powerful demon parasite. Is the Sorcerer Supreme going to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the monk, or was absorbing the demon’s powerful essence part his plan to begin with? Interwoven throughout this tale of demons and high sorcery is a glimpse into Doctor Strange’s past, showing the arrogance that not only led to the accident that cost him his medical skills, but shows the good Doctor was never really humbled by the experience, a proven by the decisions he makes to this day. Everything has a price, Doctor Strange Everything!
But what makes this issue rock more than anything I Marco Rudy’s amazing artwork. Not since Ditko, has Strange been this trippy and scary at the same time. I fell in love with his JH Williams meets David Mack style with his Marvel Knight’ Spiderman mini series (now available in trade….. go get it! ) His panel arrangements are sick!, some pages downright terrifying to look at, but impossible to look away. For the love of god someone give this guy a high-profile book! I dunno… like maybe a Doctor Strange Original Graphic Novel! or an ongoing for Agamatto’s sake! Here look for yourself, meng!:
Enjoy ’em guys and girls!