Sunday, 14 February 2010

Tripping the light fantastic...

OK folks, soapbox time. Gather round.

It's time to talk about four people. A family. Adventurers, scientists and heroes.

Their first film was rubbish. Their second film was marginally better.

I refer, of course, to the Fantastic Four.

For a long time, the Fantastic Four book was fairly insipid and uninspiring. Then JMS took over and crafted some interesting stories, but his run was largely hamstrung by the needs of the larger Civil War storyline (this in turn seems to have frustrated JMS enough to make him refuse to continue writing Thor as the universe moved towards the current Siege crossover).

After JMS came Dwayne McDuffie. I have no time for McDuffie's writing and in the last few years he's been reportedly fired from writing the JLA by DC and the FF by Marvel. 'Nuff said.

Then with much fanfare and ceremony came the Ultimates wunderkinder, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch.

I adored this run, it was everything I wanted from the Fantastic Four. Heroics, exploration, adventuring to the very edge of imagination! Grand ideas, incredible imagery, heartbreaking deaths and crazy temporal mechanics. All this and a quick holiday to Scotland and the worship of an Cthulhu-esque monster. I kid you not.

If I have piqued your interest, the Millar-Hitch run is collected in two volumes - World's Greatest and Masters Of Doom. Read them in that order.

Now I did think this was the zenith of the Fantastic Four. Then Marvel announced Jonathan Hickman was taking over. Hickman redefined sequential comic art for me with some of his creator owned work at Image including Nightly News, Red Mass From Mars and Pax Romana. He did things that graphic designers drooled over.

But his work on the Dark Reign Fantastic Four miniseries was merely serviceable in my opinion. I was a little disappointed and assumed his ongoing run would be another slump in Fantastic Four storytelling.

I was wrong.

Hickman has managed to completely bowl me over in just a handful of issues. He is adeptly crafting one and two issue long stories that pack as much in as most modern comics writers do in six issues, without seeming as twee as the Golden Age comics often do. That's no mean feat. Comic Book Resources spoke to him as this new run began.

Reed Richards has joined other versions of himself from alternate universes in the hope of fixing... well... everything? The revelations surrounding Valeria continue and Franklin has had a fairly incredible birthday present. We've had trips to the Moloid Underworld kingdom and even this fella...

Family and science fiction superheroics - this has always been the core of the Fantastic Four. This title deserves to be read and savoured. Jonathan Hickman has just spoken to Newsarama about what comes next for the Fantastic Four, please do check it out.

Hickman also has another Marvel project in the pipeline. It's starts in April. It's called S.H.I.E.L.D. I want to properly rave about how excited I am about this title, so I'll say no more for now but leave you with this teaser image...

1 comment:

  1. Just goes to confirm what you say, while the expanded Marvel universe is all fine and dandy, with the right writer the titles are able to stand up on their own without the need to drop the flavor of the month character or the reality ending cross over in.