Fantastic Four #10
There’s a bit of fallout from last issue’s trouncing of Dr. Doom: the conduct of the Richards kids while their parents were away. Even though what Franklin and Valeria did ended up saving the family, there’s still the matter of Franklin taking advantage of Alicia’s blindness to go sauntering out of Jake and Petunia’s house in defiance of the grounding. What’s to be done? The Thing sends his godson to the Grimm Youth Center to do community service. When the sullen Franklin doesn’t get along with the other kids at the Center and it almost comes to blows, it comes up that our Fantastic Four have not really had a chance to become a part of the neighborhood yet. The solution: a Yancy Street block party.
(Along the way, the Torch discovers that his nephew is quite the young artist when he catches Franklin burning the sketchbook he’s been keeping about the worlds and beings that he created while the Richards family was away in the Multiverse, so many of which were wiped out by The Griever. Franklin is still doing his own grieving for the attrition of his powers. Every time he uses power, he loses power, until eventually he’ll have nothing left. What is to become of a boy who was more super than super when he has to face possibly no longer being super at all?)
The people of the neighborhood where Ben Grimm grew up take a liking to the rest of our Fantastic family. Until The Fantastic Four came along, the oddest thing on Yancy Street was that Devil Dinosaur and Moon Girl had moved in. (The continuing legacy of Jack “King” Kirby…) Things immediately get a lot stranger—and not in a good way—when a lot of giants and monsters spouting off about “Bifrost” and “Midgard” appear out of nowhere, which Sue correctly identifies as “some Thor-related thing.” Since there are no Thunder Gods in residence on Yancy Street, it’s up to the science-oriented Fantastic Four to come up with a solution to a mythological threat. The Yancy Streeters, in the meantime, are not about to let The FF do all their fighting for them and will not be intimidated by the Bulfinch of a lot of mythical creatures from across the Rainbow Bridge. They pick up baseball bats, slegehammers, tire irons, walking canes, and anything else they can use as a weapon, and together they have at these intruders to their home.
Franklin, suddenly not caring what happens to his powers, cuts loose on the horde of monsters. But it is Valeria who figures out how the attack started when she realizes that part of the Asgardian attack on New York City involved the complete disabling of terrestrial media—however, the multi-dimensional antenna that she’s been using to send text messages to other universes is still working. When Franklin blasts his sister’s antenna, the Asgardian monsters, who came to destroy it, have no more reason to bother Yancy Street for the moment, and simply go away.
As long as there are monsters of any sort loose in the Big Apple, though, The Fantastic Four have a job to do, and straight away they get themselves into a tweaked version of their current uniform to see what they can do to help Thor, The Avengers, or any other supers in town. They leave the kids to mind the store, in team uniforms of their own. Yancy Street, they trust, will be in good hands with Franklin, Valeria, Devil Dinosaur, and Moon Girl.
When Marvel first brought The Fantastic Four back out of hiatus last summer, one of my immediate concerns was, Please don’t let cross-continuity events that try to manipulate fans into spending hundreds of dollars to get the whole story intrude on what Dan Slott has planned for this book. Please don’t let Dan Slott’s FF go the way of J. Michael Straczynski’s FF, which was pre-empted by that damn Civil War. Fortunately I seem to have nothing to worry about—this time. The “Make ‘em Buy it All” War of the Realms event will be occupying only this issue of Marvel’s best mag. And for what it is, this sortie into sales synergy is actually not a bad story. Slott was able to make it work with what’s happening in the lives of The FF, rather than something that seems forced and imposed. The story flows and integrates naturally. And characterization-wise, the idea of Franklin as a budding artist is a very interesting one. Science and art are very compatible, as any reader of Omni Magazine could have told you. I rather like the idea of the son of the world’s greatest scientist being a potential artistic virtuoso.
And speaking of Marvel’s unending cross-continuity events that take up the storytelling in the entire main line, Sue’s remark about this being “some Thor-related thing” makes me think of something. Have you ever noticed that in all the years they’ve been doing these continuity-consuming storylines, not one of them has ever been based on The Fantastic Four or any material belonging to this series? The closest they came to a Fantastic Four “event” was the time Dr. Doom invaded Wakanda. Otherwise, every other Marvel “event” has been about some other title, usually The Avengers or The X-Men. If Marvel is really interested in restoring The FF to its rightful place as leader of the comic-book pack, it’s long past time they used a Fantastic Four “event” to try to rope readers in to buying every book. Let them do one of those, let it start with The FF and have the whole story across the line hook back into this book, and then they’ll have something. The 60th Anniversary of The Fantastic Four and Marvel itself is a couple of years away…
My one criticism of this issue is something that came up earlier but failed to mention at the time, back in the story of The Griever, and it is something that is compounded here. I objected strenuously enough to Valeria being characterized as smarter than her father. But now, both Valeria and this Lunella Lafayette character (Moon Girl) are being touted as the mental and scientific superiors of Mr. Fantastic? NO, NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES TO THE TENTH POWER, NO!!! These characters are children. They are not smarter than the leader of The Fantastic Four. In the Marvel Universe, there is no such thing as a mortal, human character who is smarter than Reed Richards. Sorry, just no. I now have two big objections to current Fantastic Four content. Shave that damn beard off Reed and stop claiming that children are smarter than he is! Cut that out—NOW!
Art-wise, it’s a basically very nice job by Paco Medina and Kevin Libranda, though their version of The Thing is rather “off” in a few panels. I think artists who are going to work with The Thing should undertake a study of Kirby, Byrne, and Mike McKone before they begin. Medina and Libranda do good work with the rest of the team, and the streamlining of the uniforms is a welcome touch. Only their rendition of Bashful Ben is not quite consistent throughout the issue. And overall, I would still like to see one regular artist on the book who visually “gets” all four of them. Aaron Kuder was great; he’d be more than welcome to return for a long-term engagement.
With our heroes and the kids now settled in to their new home, all the pieces are in place for renewed and continued Fantastic Four greatness. The next order of business, to be taken up next issue, is the honeymoon of Ben and Alicia. And what better time to bring back yet another FF tradition: An epic battle between the many-splendored Thing and the ever-incredible Hulk! That’s for next issue.
War of the Realms: Fantastic Four #10: An Utter Load of Bulfinch!
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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