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In this episode:
Brubaker’s Captain America
The Great Darkness Saga
Waid and Ringo’s Fantastic Four
Johnny Storm is dead. Long live… Spider-Man and Doctor Doom?! The death of Johnny Storm, a.k.a. The Human Torch in Fantastic Four # 587 has presumably brought the end of the Fantastic Four book, at least in number (let’s see how long that lasts), and leaves the future wide open for the newly formed Future Foundation in FF # 1. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Steve Epting (the same guys that killed The Human Torch in the historic story-arc “Three”) usher in a new era in the Fantastic Four continuity which should please anyone that has been following Hickman and Epting’s recent run on the book.
Marvel’s first family finds themselves in disarray following not only the death of a founding and charismatic member but a total change in the status quo for the surviving members. Susan Richards, a.k.a. The Invisible Woman, finds herself the unlikely monarch of a forgotten race of freaky, underwater ugly-peoples that even Namor, the king of Atlantis, doesn’t want to protect. Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic has to deal with his equally obnoxious father who has recently returned from the far future (“daddy issues” anyone?) and what I presume will be the return of the Council of Reeds. And Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing is dealing with the emotional guilt of knowing that Johnny Storm sacrificed himself for Ben juuuust as he was returning to rock form (see the ending of FF # 587).
So who will pull the FF out of it’s funk? As we find out in the beginning of FF # 1, Spider-Man is given the illustrious invite into Marvel’s royal family at the behest of the deceased Human Torch, (who somehow had the foresight to leave a hologram video will). If the multiple covers are any indication however, Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman progenies Franklin and Valeria Richards will also play major roles in the new FF book as will none other than longtime nemesis Doctor Doom. Yes, that’s right, a bad guy is now a good guy. Why? Because Marvel said so… now finish your vegetables.
FF # 1 sets a new tone for the Future Foundation which takes a decidedly more proactive approach to bettering the world than the butt-kickery of the original FF group. Hickman’s storytelling has always been more geared toward heady science fiction rather than senseless violence, (just read his run on S.H.I.E.L.D. for further proof), so this new direction pretty much just picks up where his Fantastic Four run left off.
For me this raises some logistical issues like foremost, what about The Thing? Sure the additions of Spider-Man and Dr. Doom make sense when you consider that they are joining an impressive think tank that now includes Mr. Fantastic and his uber-smart father Nathan, but where does this leave Ben Grimm? I mean let’s face it, he’s always just been the muscle but at least in the past he had Johnny to hang out and be dumb with. Now what’s he going to do? Even the kids are smarter than him. Maybe that’s why he’s so sad in FF # 1?
Hickman and Epting have also given the team an aesthetic overhaul outfitting them in stylish, Stanley Kubrick-esque white-and-black outfits. Which, I’m not sure I’m entirely on board for. There’s a reason why if you look at their outfits in Fantastic Four # 587 and compare them to the ones they wore in Fantastic Four # 3 (when the team actually started wearing uniforms) there would be little difference. It’s because you don’t mess with a classic. So to take that team and give them a completely new look with a completely new logo is a very bold step. Especially if, as Hickman had been hinting prior to the “Three” arc, this change in the Fantastic Four’s direction really is “permanent.” Which in the comic book world means it could last anywhere from one to five years.
Personally I like the new logo, the three hexagons, much better than if they just replaced the old “four” with a “three.” It represents change – a bold, refreshing, new direction for Marvel’s first team. What’s more, this change doesn’t seem to come out of some inane desire to make the team more “hip” and improve their marketing in lieu of a possible new movie. It actually serves a purpose both dramatically and thematically. As for the story, expect more of the same of what Hickman has been delivering the past year, which has been nothing short of fantastic… no pun intended. Either way, for Fantastic Four fans and fans of science fiction comic bookery, FF is definitely a book to keep your eye on.
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In this episode:
Whedon and Cassaday’s Astonishing X-men
Invincible Iron Man
If the last year of Lantern-related books have left you feeling like an alcoholic trying to shake a massive “Blackest Night” hangover then rejoice my brethren… and sisteren, for the party has started anew. The double dose of Green Lantern # 64 (Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke) and Green Lantern Corps # 58 (Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham) are the proverbial first beer-and-shot combo of the night for the well-teased GL event of the season, “War of the Green Lanterns.” Fans can rest assured that a steady diet of ring-slinging, OA-shattering, construct-battle madness will now commence.
“War of the Green Lanterns” feels very much like a sequel to last year’s DC Universe-encompassing event Blackest Night, also brought to us by writer extraordinaire Geoff Johns. Although the massive amounts of exposition in GL # 64 attempts to bring new readers up to speed I can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t read “The Sinestro War,” “Blackest Night,” and the previous sixty three issues of Green Lantern to have any idea whatsoever of what’s happening in the book. In all honesty though, if you haven’t been reading Green Lantern then you probably deserve it. Shame, shame I say. Johns’ teaser-heavy approach to event storytelling however is good news for the rest of us as it means that he wastes little time on boring setup and proceeds to blast us right in the mouth with good old-fashioned space violence.
“War of the Green Lanterns” kicks off when old/new foe (hooray for retconned storylines) Krona, the renegade guardian, promptly bitch-slaps the actual Guardians and literally blows up the spot with the recently-captured (and way too easily controlled) entities of emotion. Krona then proceeds to reinsert Parallax the entity of Fear (no not Hal Jordan, the freaky yellow insect-thingy, remember? Retcon! Retcon!) into the Green Lantern central battery effectively putting the rest of the Green Lanterns under his control.
A few things about this issue – although I enjoyed the opening of “War” and think that Johns has again done a masterful job setting up another crazy-ass Green Lantern event, there was one thing that really bothered me. GL # 64 begins with the Guardians issuing a warrant for the arrest of Hal Jordan on charges of teaming up with Atrocitus and Sinestro behind their backs. But come on! Jordan’s done way worse than that in the past. For OA’s sake, in the 90’s he single-handedly destroyed the corps and killed the lame-ass Guardians and now they want to arrest him for what is at best a GL misdemeanor? Why are the Guardians such crusty little assholes? I actually cheered when Krona tore, previously-unnamed Guardian Hepura’s jaw off and possessed the rest of the council with his entities. In Green Lantern Corps # 58 writer Tony Bedard continues part two of “War” with the story of Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and former lame-ass Guardian Ganthet as the rest of the Corps goes all yellow-eyed and mind-controlled. Although action-packed, I found this issue so exposition-heavy that I actually fell asleep not once but twice. HOWEVER, for the sake of dorkism, I powered through. Alas it had it’s high points, most notably when Ganthet’s power ring blows up his hand (more Guardian mutiliation please) and the increasingly-annoying Alpha Lanterns were found decommissioned and floating in space (whew at least we don’t have to listen to their boring robot-talk).
All-in-all this was a pretty good start to the “War of the Green Lanterns.” It set the stakes for the event and stacks the chips against Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and presumably Guy Gardner, although we won’t find that last part out until Emerald Warriors # 8 comes out next week. I recommend Green Lantern # 64 to any GL fan, and Green Lantern Corps # 58 to John Stewart and Kyle Rayner fans only. But new fans be wary, if you are looking to jump into the Green Lantern books, then you better spend some time catching up. Or at the very least visit the Wikipedia page, yes it exists. As for the GL regulars, let’s hope the rest of “War of the Green Lanterns” lives up to the hype. And I, personally, will keep my fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe those asshole Guardians will actually die for real this time.
John, Alex, and Migs tell you more about their favorite books in this sixth installment of TK’s Top 100 Comics. Other topics covered include Black Swan, masturbation… and masturbating swans.
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In this episode:
Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
Batman: Year One
Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four
Byrne’s Man of Steel
Windsor-Smith’s Weapon X
Review by Nick Santos
Here’s a question — What has two thumbs, an insatiable appetite for human body parts, and a sleek black spandex suit with tendrils? Awww, that’s right bitches Venom is back! After an almost six-year hiatus from solo books, Marvel has finally decided to bring back the only thing on Earth with a tongue longer than Gene Simmons. Venom # 1 however is not a simple regurgitation of the Venom character that we’ve been seeing since it’s original appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man # 252 (January, 1984). Writer Rick Remender (Fear Agent) and artist Tony Moore (The Walking Dead) deliver the story of the newly-revamped Venom character in a way that comic book fans have never seen the character before.
If you missed The Amazing Spider-Man # 654.1 (most likely because it was part of Marvel’s completely inane Point-One campaign) then nuts to you because you missed a beautifully put together origin story of the –SPOILER ALERT– Eugene “Flash” Thompson Venom incarnation. Wait, what? Flash Thompson? Venom? Isn’t Flash that dude in the wheelchair that used to pick on Peter Parker in high school? Eat it sucker, that’s what you get for judging Marvel for their dumb ass marketing campaigns… the nerve. Anywho, it doesn’t make any difference I suppose because if you are lazy, like moi, you could have just as easily read the intro page to Venom # 1 to get the lowdown, but… what fun is that?
The new Venom series follows Flash, our beloved war-hero and poster boy for dudes in wheelchairs who still have amazing upper bodies as he engages on military-funded missions via the Venom symbiote. Referred to by some as the “Black-Ops Venom” this new incarnation lives up to it’s moniker in the first issue. Dropped into the fictitious eastern European country of Nrovekistan (yeah I Google-mapped it. Big whoop, wanna fight about it?) the new Venom is tasked with capturing a scientist who has found a way to weaponize Antarctic Vibranium. Of course the scientist, in true evil genius fashion, is raging all over those poor Nrovekistanians with a vibranium tank and raising the kind of hell that only eastern European countries seem to catch in comic books. Just to make things interesting, Remender adds some dude named Jack-O-Lantern into the mix who is working at the behest of a mystery villain/arms dealer/staunch anarchist. But I digress, for surely that is a plot point that will play out in the first arcs of the new series.
The new Venom is interesting in a lot of different ways. First off, there is the military factor, which actually is not all that engaging except for the fact that they control how much time Flash is allowed to spend bonded with the symbiote. This is the coolest thing about the new Venom as it completely changes the dynamic that the previous Venoms all shared. In older incarnations, the symbiote has always (except in the case of Peter Parker) been willingly accepted by its host. With Flash however, the symbiote is more of a means-to-an-end, although surely the symbiote will play a part in this drama later in the book as foreshadowed by Remender. In lieu of this new dynamic, the first issue also introduces fans to Flash’s oft-forgotten bouts with alcoholism and bastardism, which is a made-up word that sounds more interesting than just calling him a “selfish jerk.”
Venom # 1 is definitely worth checking out for any fan of that dude, oh, what’s-his-name, Spider-Something, and of the older Venom books. The series feels fresh and is not, thank God in heaven, weighed down by the continuity of the previous Venom canons. Marvel successfully revitalizes both the Venom and the Flash Thompson characters in this new series and more importantly have given it/him guns, which will forever make any character except for Batman ten-times cooler. The new Venom series is off to an exciting start and Venom # 1 a good first step in raising the character out of the B-list purgatory that it has been festering in since Eddie Brock stopped being interesting, which was back in the mid-90’s, just in case y’all didn’t know.
In this special podcast, John, Alex, Migs, and Jad sit in a semi-circle in the shape of Black Lantern symbol and talk about the oft-discussed matter of Death in Comics. With so many significant characters biting it as of late, the TK crew question the significance of these losses.
SPOILER WARNING: We talk about characters dying. (Just in case that wasn’t really clear yet)
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