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 →
Today, 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!
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.
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.
Today, 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.
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!
Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing Fantastic Four 9 and FF 8, originally released June 19th, 2013 and June 26th, 2013, respectively.
Shelby: Everyone makes mistakes. There’s no way around it. Personally, I think it’s a better judge of character to see how a person deals with their mistakes, and less so that the mistakes were made in the first place. It’s important to admit when you’ve messed up and take responsibility fr your actions, but the gesture rings a little hollow when you don’t actually expect to be held responsible. Or if you can just go back in time and undo what you did: how will you learn from a mistake if you can just erase it? Moreover, if you aren’t going to be held responsible for what you did, and you can’t undo it no matter how badly you may want to, can you really forgive yourself? Continue reading →
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.
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing FF 5, originally released March 27, 2013.
Drew: Comics have a LOT of history, which is precisely what makes them so intimidating. Marketing ploys like the New 52 and Marvel NOW are designed specifically to minimize the cost of entry — sure, there may be decades of dense continuity to follow, but why bother when you can start with a brand new #1. As someone who was enticed by those ploys, I often have the false sense of security that I understand the universes these stories are told in. Sure, there are references to events and characters I don’t know, but I continue on the faith that, if it’s important, everything will be explained. For the most part that attitude has served me well, but every so often, I’m reminded of just how my ignorance might color my readings. The recent twist ending in Age of Ultron 3 is a great example — everything about the reveal told me that this was a big surprise, but I completely lacked the knowledge to understand what actually happened, forcing me to consult the Marvel Wiki for answers. Of course, the long, convoluted histories that most characters have often make that experience more confusing than helpful, which is exactly the experience I had trying to parse the ending of FF 5. Continue reading →
Today, Ethan and Patrick are discussing FF 4, originally released February 27, 2013.
Ethan: Growth is hard. Everyone’s familiar with the usual childhood “growing up” process, with all of its difficult changes, naïve missteps, puppy love, and idealism. Then there’s the second adolescence — of the mind rather than the body — that we deal with as we explore what it means to be an adult. The changes are more situational and relational than hormonal; the missteps become less laughably naïve but often have much larger consequences; idealism fades to pragmatism, and puppy love — well, love doesn’t really change that much. Alongside these more mundane types of development, life occasionally confronts us with something truly awful and growth stops being something we do as a matter of course and starts being something we do just to survive. In the hands of writer Matt Fraction and artist Michael Allred, FF #4 continues to show us a world in which the varieties of growth faced by children, adults, and survivors collide. Continue reading →