I liked the Double Down format so well, I thought I’d give it another go with some recent comics you may have missed – Fantastic Four #1 and Loki: Agent of Asgard #2.
Since diving back into the world of comics, the Marvel titles I’ve bought have been a mixed bag – New Avengers, Avengers AI, and Guardians of the Galaxy have all given me major headaches. A combination of thick continuity and a too-dark outlook on the Marvel Universe made me question my commitment to being a casual comics fan.
Recently, though, I’ve picked up many Marvel titles that have restored my faith in the current editorial direction. I adored She-Hulk #1 and have high hopes for Ms. Marvel after a good looking and well-told origin story in the first issue of the new run.
So what has Marvel delivered over the last two weeks? Let’s start with a classic team – The Fantastic Four.
The FF is embarking on a new adventure with a new #1 and a storyline called, “The Fall of the Fantastic Four”. Even the title seemed like a downer. But, I was pleasantly surprised by the new series.
The book begins, as too many Marvel titles do, with a character recounting how the upcoming story is the darkest days of (humanity/mutants/the team in question). This time, it’s Sue Storm writing a letter to her daughter regarding the, well, impending fall of the Fantastic Four.
Marvel may want to send a memo to their writing staff, letting them know that this storytelling technique is a bit played-out.
As a casual fan, though, I really enjoyed this issue. I can set aside the bummer opening pages. Really, every FF storyline since the 60s has had the threat of the team breaking up / dying. So the prelude, while unnecessary, isn’t really that “dark”. In the good old days, they would’ve just splashed it on the cover and dug right into the story.
Here are a few things I like about the first issue of the new Fantastic Four:
The team – It’s been too long since I’ve seen a Fantastic Four Series that features the actual Fantastic Four – Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and yer ever lovin’ Uncle Benji. Welcome home guys. It’s great to have you here.
The costumes – I’m not sure if this is the first time the Fantastic Four are wearing these red uniforms, but I really like them. I’m sure I’ll want them to get back to the classic blues at some point, but the reds are really popping off the page in this issue.
The story – The first issue was pretty dang easy for a casual comics fan. I’m familiar enough with the broader Marvel Universe that I understand that Reed’s running some kind of educational facility in the Baxter Building. I like to think of it as the nerd academy vs. Xavier’s jock institute. So, the interlude with the kiddies running around was the deepest dig into current continuity, and it didn’t strain the brain too hard.
Robinson also does an excellent job, pacing the action and adventure with the team interludes and personal moments. Fantastic Four #1 is very well written. We even get a proper “It’s Clobberin’ Time!”
The art –
This is exactly what I was hoping for when I picked up Fantastic Four #1.
Will I buy the next issue? AB-SO-LUTELY. Lock it in.
So, after reading this, I was pretty hyped for Loki: Agent of Asgard #2. It was one of my hot picks for last week, you may recall. Like many, I quite enjoy Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the immortal trickster in the movies. I read the solicit:
“Loki vs. Lorelei! It’s the battle of the Asgardian younger siblings–from the casinos of Monte Carlo to a speed date in New York! Loki goes speed dating. We should have mentioned that earlier, really.”
How can you go wrong with that? It’s almost like Marvel had a roadmap to make it go wrong and followed it to the letter. But, it all begins and ends with the title being almost entirely impenetrable for casual readers.
I would’ve thought that with Loki’s relative popularity in the movie universe, Marvel might try a title that casual readers can “get”. I was shocked to open the book and find a page-long recap of the previous developments leading up to this issue. It’s only issue #2 after all. There was a bunch of nonsensical (to me) backstory about Loki dying, coming back to life as a kid, and redeeming himself.
That might seem pretty straightforward, but that’s not all. The original Loki then returns, kills the reincarnated version of himself, and takes his own place, but has to pretend to be the good version in order to wipe out his old bad deeds… Or something like that… I’ve read it three times, and I’m still not sure I’m getting it.
I’m a pretty bright guy (no matter what you might hear), and I shouldn’t still be struggling with the basic timeline of a character like Loki in the SECOND issue of a title.
Once I got into the book, I thought the story was witty. The art was gorgeous, as well. I’ve never really noticed the “coloring” on a book, so Nolan Woodard should be commended for making me sit up and take notice on the wonders a colorist can work on a bok.
But I’m just plain lost. I liked the meat of the story, but I couldn’t make heads-nor-tails of where the story was coming from or where it’s heading based on this issue.
Will I buy the next issue? To be honest, I’ll probably read the next one (or two) at the comic shop to see if it’s making any more sense before investing another three bucks on another issue.
So, once again, Marvel is proving to be a mixed bag. It makes me even more nervous about diving back into the DC Universe. Here’s the deal, if they ever put out a new Doctor Fate title, it’ll be time for me to take that plunge. Until then, I’m still trying to get my footing on this side of the great divide. Luckily, I’m finding quite a few titles outside the big two that are more accessible.