FF 16

ff 16

Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing FF 16, originally released January 22nd, 2013.

Ethan: With the arrival of FF 16 Scott Lang’s campaign to end Doom is itself at an end. Even though Doom was the cause of the crusade, it’s always been more about Scott — this finale is no different. As Scott confronts the mortal enemy of the Fantastic Four and the man who killed his daughter, there’s never going to be a better time to prove who or what the latest incarnation of Ant-Man has become. Unsurprisingly, Matt Fraction and Lee Allred do not disappoint.

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FF 15

FF 15

Today, Ethan Patrick and Drew are discussing FF 15, originally released December 18th, 2013.

Ethan Patrick: I guess it’s appropriate that I’m stepping up to bat for Ethan for this issue of FF. There are an awful lot of substitutes and avatars in play for the invasion of Latveria. The good guys are all either trying to be something they’re not or asserting something else as themselves. In some cases, the characters are two or three steps removed from the version of themselves that’s actually doing the action. Interestingly, Doom never falls victim to this same delusion — in fact, even though everyone expects him to either a) port his consciousness over to another body or b) merge with another body. We know it can’t last, but Doom wins a victory here by being the only one refusing to be anything but himself. Maybe the kids still have one more thing to learn before the Fantastic Four comes back to town.

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FF 14

FF 14

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing FF 14, originally released December 2nd, 2013.

Patrick: “The eve of battle” is an experience most of us will never literally experience – simply by virtue of the fact that so few of us will ever experience “battle.” The phenomenon, however, is immediately recognizable. People get introspective and honest and fearless the night before Something Big happens. That’s why people hook up the last day of camp, that’s why you stay up too late the night before finals watching Lord of the Rings with your friends. There’s something about the Bigness of the next day that makes every flight of fancy seem relevant. As the FF find themselves staring down the barrel of a battle royale with Doctor Doom, the Allreds chase down every impulse and curiosity, revealing a beautiful mosaic as quirky and particular as the team itself. Continue reading

FF 13

FF 13Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing FF 13, originally released October 23rd, 2013.

Shelby: Uatu the Watcher refers to his home as his “inviolate domicile.” His digs on the blue side of the moon is a place wholly protected, whose inhabitants are guaranteed safe from harm. It could just be house rules, but I like to think there’s a little more magic behind it: something about the house or the Watcher’s presence that protects everyone. It’s a perfect setting for Scott Lang and the rest of the FF team to hide out and plot against Doom. Plus, space monkeys!

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FF 12

Alternating Currents: FF 12, Shelby and Drew

Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing FF 12, originally released September 25th, 2013.

Shelby: Destiny takes on a whole new meaning in ComicBookLand. To us regular folk, destiny is the idea that the natural order of the universe has predetermined our future. In comic books, it generally means a version of yourself from the future has arrived who knows what happens next because they’ve already lived it. It makes it a lot harder to argue your future is your own when faced with someone who knows what you’re going to do next, and the consequences of those actions. Unless, of course, you’re in Matt Fraction’s FF; no matter how many intellects from the future drop by, you never actually know what will happen next.

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FF 11

FF 11

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing FF 11, originally released August 28th, 2013.

Patrick: I don’t care how many times we say it around here — it bears repeating: comics are weird. Every time I think I get a handle on the time travel, or space travel, or clones, or moloids or whatever, I discover that the well of weird is deeper than I could ever imagine. Enter: The Impossible Man. Who’s The Impossible Man? Just a shapeshifting alien with nearly unlimited power and a comprehensive knowledge of (and fascination with) Earth popular culture. I did a little rudimentary research, just to familiarize myself with the character, and my favorite piece of trivia about The Impossible Man is that he once talked Galactus out of eating Earth, and then celebrated by going to the Marvel offices and demanding that Stan Lee give him is own solo series. It is in that spirit that FF 11 introduces his son.

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FF 10

ff 10Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing FF 10, originally released July 31st, 2013.

“I’ve written myself into my own script.”

“That’s kinda weird, huh?”

“It’s self-indulgent! It’s narcissistic! It’s solipsistic! It’s pathetic! I’m pathetic and I’m fat and pathetic!”

Nick Cage as Charlie and Donald Kaufman, Adaptation

Patrick: Adaptation is the best narrative I’ve ever encountered that directly confronts the challenges of portraying beauty abstractly. The screenplay works incredibly hard to achieve this, constantly doubling down on both its own cleverness and its disdain for said cleverness. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman does this my making himself a character in his own movie about adapting the book he’s been hired to adapt. If that sentence seemed to loop back on itself — and consequently, not make any sense — that’s because the film really needs to be experienced to be understood. Matt Fraction inserts himself, artist Mike Allred and editor Tom Brevoort into this issue of FF, but the lessons he offers have more to do with history than with expression. Plus, he makes himself say “ginchy,” like he’s Velma from Scooby-Doo, so you know it’s a home run.

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FF 9

FF 9

Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing FF 9, originally released July 17th, 2013.

Patrick: We recently decided to ax our coverage of the FF‘s sister series, Fantastic Four. Partially, we did this because Reed Richards is an insufferable asshole, but the series also suffered from its own apparent non-importance. The idea of the Fantastic Four’s totally episodic adventures through time and space sounded like an awful lot of fun, but they started to feel trivial pretty quickly. When you account for the Magic School Bus level of coincidence involved in some of their stories (“hey look kids, it’s Julius Cesar!”), it became clear that the story wasn’t for us. Or was it? FF’s stories have been pretty insubstantial too, but there’s something about the cast and the sense of humor we just liked more. With this issue, Fraction reveals that none of his stories have been irrelevant, and all of these threads are woven together into a single tapestry, telling personal, interested and interesting stories about the people touched by the Fantastic Four. Plus: POOL PARTY!

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FF 7

FF 7

Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing FF 7, originally released May 15th, 2013.

Ethan: Family is the most important thing. The ones closest to us make all the difference, whether that’s helping us reach our goals, being there for us when we’re down, or providing vital sustenance when we kill them and eat them. More on that later. Writer Matt Fraction and artist Michael Allred continue to shepherd FF forward through the latest crisis — the assault by The Wizard — with the all of the quirks and charm we’ve come to expect. Even for an issue that spends more time than usual on its fight scenes, Fraction still finds ample room to pack in both the standard measure of goofball interactions and touching moments.

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FF 6

FF 6

Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing FF 6, originally released April 24th, 2013.

Shelby: It’s interesting to see the real world creep into comic books. On the one hand, real world elements make comic books more relateable; if we can relate to the events our heroes are facing, it’s easier for us to become immersed in the story. On the other hand, real world events juxtaposed with fantastic (and sometimes dumb) comic book events can be jarring and ultimately make the story unnecessarily nonsensical. Matt Fraction maintains the balance of real world and comic world by making the silly comic book stuff EXTRA silly while at the same time making the characters extra endearing. I don’t understand how or why, but it works. Continue reading