Sunday, December 9, 2012

FF #1

Foundation Flip for for Marvel's Fantastic First Family 

First-time formal introductions rarely generate thrilling moments, even amongst superheroes. FF #1 begins with talking kids, kids that have no immediate clear reason for filling six panels (although the final panel provides the rationale). The comic then paces the reader through each member of the Fantastic Four choosing his and her replacement for their proposed four-minute journey. Each recruitment scene separates with another interview with kids of the Future Foundation.
That’s it.
No villains.
No revealing character developments.
Limited tension in Ant-Man’s reluctance (his obliging answer already known from Marvel’s hype).

The plot exudes the feel of substituting values for the variables in the equation and then calculating the formula…“plug and chug” as the mathematicians say. 

Certainly Matt Fraction’s competence as a writer exceeds question  (his composition on Defender’s #1 still stands as a favorite (for me) first issue of all time), but the purpose for this mild introduction is elusive…for now. Two factors make the second issue worth pulling.

  1. Faith. The bane of loving comics and reading monthly installments… “maybe the next issue will be better….”
  2. Allreds.
Previous replacements for the Fantastic Four 
Mike Allred drawing this new weird team of FF has earned my subscription to this issue. Allred’s running lines for Medusa’s hair, the Kirby-esque Thing[1], and Ant-Man’s costume and  helmet that might be found in the fetish section of a dentist’s supply catalogue straddle the edge of cartoony and realism…a perfect tension to maintain for this FF book (which, despite the slow story, DOES clearly contain a goofy mood). Allred’s style harmonizes with this book, and I hope he stays on art duties for the full four minutes the Fantastic Four uses to walk down their inter-dimensional hallway. I also hope Marvel hires Shakey Kane and David Hine to fill in when Fraction and Allred need a break and to take over at the end of Fraction and Allred’s run…then Marvel universe really WOULD never be the same….

Laura Allred’s eyes are beautiful. Rarely, if ever, has the eye color of a character stood out, but in this issue of FF, the eyes consistently snag attention for an engaging factor of the art. Val and Franklin Richards have blue eyes as does Sue Richards, Mister Fantastic has brown eyes, Ant-Man blue, Medusa, green, Bently-23 brown, Crystal the Inhuman green, She-Hulk green (of course), Darla Deering brown, Johnny Storm hazel, The ever-lovin’ Blue-eyed Thing has…oh…you know…. These small dots of color animate faces far more than what seems possible and conveys a dynamic dynamism to make stunning art that much more stunning.

The first issue’s final page ends with Scott Lang asking:
“What is the FF? What does it mean to you, the young minds that make up the program?”

A good question, and one that kept echoing through my multiple readings and browsings of this issue. As for the bright future engineered by Allred and Fraction…let’s hold hope and keep a pair shades close by for the a possible future so bright.

[1] Sorry Silva, while I know you (and many others) like the look of Allred’s She-Hulk, I just imagine a balloon animals every time she appears on the page with her bulbous muscles…and her shoulders (and breasts) keep changing size…it must make buying properly fitting shirts the height of frustration for She-Hulk…no wonder she gets so angry….).

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