This article containers SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk.
The ends of long creator runs in comics are a strange thing — an ending that isn’t an ending, a goodbye that isn’t a goodbye — but are also relatively commonplace. Indeed, those “final issues” are common enough to create a kind of map of morphologies, from those that send the characters in bold new directions to those that more or less put things back to neutral. One of the most common features, though, is that writers step out from behind the curtain to acknowledge their own departure. Some do this in a self-consciously postmodern way (a la Animal Man 26, excerpted above), but any hint of goodbye from the creative team breaks the fourth wall at least a little. We’ve written about plenty of those final issues over the years, but none quite as final as Invincible Iron Man 600, which isn’t just the finale of Brian Michael Bendis’s three-year run with the series, but of his 18-year run with Marvel. That is, he’s not just saying goodbye to the cast of Invincible Iron Man, but the Marvel Universe as a whole, which demands some kind of acknowledgement, which Bendis of course puts his trademark spin on. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing All-New X-Men 1, originally released December 2nd, 2015.
Michael:Crisis on Infinite Earths is often talked about as an editorial cleaning of house, continuity-wise. In a way, I think it contributed to the the opposite effect, with comic books becoming more and more concerned with continuity. I have no problem with that – the soap opera roller coaster that is superhero relationships has always been very appealing to me. More than any other series (maybe tied with Batman) the X-Men books have always been very concerned with the continuity and its ramifications. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Hulk 1, originally released April 16, 2014.
Shelby: I love online quizzes, the dumber the better. If I can answer a dozen questions and find out which sandwich I am, I rest easier at night. There’s always that one question, “If you friends could pick one word to describe you, what would that word be?” that always gives me pause. How can a person be distilled down to just one, defining thing? And how am I supposed to know what other people would say that one thing is? Comic book characters probably don’t suffer the same sort of existential crisis I feel talking personality quizzes because most of them do have that one thing that defines them. Take Bruce Banner, for instance. He’s defined by his intelligence; he’s one of the smart ones. Well, I suppose he’s also defined by his predilection towards turning into a green rage monster, but if we consider Bruce alone, the one word I’d use to describe him would be “smartypants.” So, what does it mean for the character if he loses that one thing that makes him who he is? Or who he was, anyway.
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, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fantastic Four 8, originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Drew: I love mysteries. Not just detective stories — I love even the smallest mysteries that happen in a narrative. Who is that? What is their relationship to the other characters? I find it satisfying when those little mysteries resolve. My girlfriend, on the other hand, has what could be fairly described as anxiety over those little mysteries — she’s always convinced she’s somehow missed the explanation for what’s going on. I think, when you get down to it, the difference is a matter of faith in the storytelling — it’s unclear because it’s supposed to be unclear. That faith flies out the window when you’re jumping into the middle of a decades-long serialized universe, where I very legitimately might have missed the explanation for what’s going on, giving me the very same anxiety I usually tease my girlfriend over. Usually, conscientious editors keep the memories of those titles fairly myopic, providing notes for anything that took place over a few issues ago, but Fantastic Four has been so historically minded as to shake my faith in Matt Fraction to explain everything to me. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Fantastic Four 6, originally released April 10th, 2013.
Drew: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints” has long been the rule of thumb for eco-tourists — or really anybody visiting nature. The point is simple: don’t change things (and indeed, many ecologists now advocate for “leave no trace” practices, which argue that even footprints are too disruptive). This idea is quite common in sci-fi as well — the Star Trek had the prime directive, and Ray Bradbury’s time traveler had the butterfly effect — which exaggerates the danger of changing things to potentially harming history itself. You’d think, then, that a group as smart as the Fantastic Four would be especially careful when encountering alien cultures while time traveling, but issue 6 proves yet again that they can’t really be bothered with such concerns, willing to alter things at the very dawn of time itself. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Jack are discussing Fantastic Four 4, originally released February 13th, 2013.
Shelby: With Valentine’s Day still fresh on my mind, I’ve been pondering the question, “How do you show someone you love them?” Personally, I’m a sucker for the small moments: the little inside jokes, the quietly personal reminders from one person to another that they are, in fact, loved. Don’t get me wrong, the big, grand gesture of LOVE definitely has its place as well. Sometimes, it isn’t enough to just let the person you love know it; you want the world, nay, the universe to know it as well. For some, that means touching and surprisingly well choreographed video proposals. For Reed Richards, it means travelling back through time and affecting the development of an entire race to leave himself a reminder to tell his wife what she means to him. Try beating that, viral flash mob proposals.