THE FANTASTIC FOUR: Year 57

FANTASTIC FOUR: YEAR 57

Part 1

Huh?

Why Year 57? Way back in November 2019, I posted an article called “The Fantastic Four: Year One.” It took a look back at the first year of the comic book called “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” If you haven’t read it now would be a good time to check it out. I’ll wait. You will find it on our blog in the menu under comic books.

Welcome back. Now that you’ve read my article and we’re all on the same page let me explain. THE FANTASTIC FOUR comic book had been cancelled and there was no more “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” Not to fret the powers that be at Marvel recently brought them back with a new issue number one. This article attempts to do the same as the original and take a look at the first year of this new FANTASTIC FOUR title. The original debuted in 1961 and this one debuted in 2018 – 57 years later – so that is why I have titled this one Year 57. There is a method to my madness.

So let’s get started and jump right in.

This issue begins with a short tribute to artist/writer/creator Steve Ditko who has passed away. The tribute is well done and that alone is worth the price of admission. Excelsior!

In this premier issue we’re treated to three stories:

  • “SIGNAL IN THE SKY”

This is a story within a story. Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic) and Sue Richards (The Invisible Woman), along with all the kids from the Future Foundation, are presumed dead. Ben Grimm (The Thing) has made peace with this and he and Alicia get kittens together. But Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) has not moved on and still believes his family is alive. Ben tells his friend Shecky a story about a time the FF were lost in space and Johnny’s singing voice actually got them home.

This helps Ben to make a decision and he asks Alicia to marry him. But when Ben asks Johnny to be his best man he freaks feeling only Reed should do that. Desperate Johnny begs the heavens for a sign. Meanwhile, out in the multiverse, Reed and Sue cause a giant glowing four to appear over Earth signaling that they are still alive.  

  • “OUR DAY OF DOOM AND VICTORY”

Our second story heralds the return of Doctor Doom. Not that watered-down Doctor Doom they tried to foist on us that wanted to be a good guy and was calling himself Iron Man. This is the REAL Doctor Doom who we see take back his kingdom of Latveria without armor, without robots, without weapons, but by his own personal power. And he does it in his civvies howabout that?

  • “WHAT THE POP?”

This story is a very short take on The Impossible Man’s reaction to this issue. It is played for laughs and reminded me of the kind of stuff Marvel used to do back in them olden days.

Thumbs Down

This should have been a double-sized issue or better yet 100 pages. Too many milestones for a regular issue. 

Thumbs Up

Okay I’ll admit I’m an old Fantastic Four fan going back to the days of issue number one. Just the fact they are back gets a big thumbs up from me. On top of that I love the artwork, I love the characterization, and I love the tongue and cheek approach. Oh My God! Those damn kittens are so cute!!! You have got to see Johnny Storm singing DANKE SHOEN. You have got to see Ben Grimm on one knee proposing to Alicia. You have also got to see Johnny crying over the loss of his family. Okay, I’ll admit I shed a tear as well. This comic was freakin’ AWESOME!!!

Rating

For all the right reasons I give this issue four and a half gray geeks and I demand you go out and read it. Okay, maybe not demand but I strongly suggest.

“WHERE WE MAKE OUR STAND”

The Future Foundation has been traveling around the multiverse creating new universes thru Franklin Richards’s awesome powers. Yes, he is God – or at least he is in these new universes. Unfortunately they run into the living embodiment of entropy called The Griever At The End Of All Things. Lets call her Griever for short. She doesn’t like what Franklin has been doing and has been going behind him and destroying the universes he has been creating. So much for playing God. The Griever kills the Molecule Man. The Future Foundation makes a stand – and gets their butts kicked. The Griever brags, Reed Richards tells her she would never have beaten him if his Fantastic Four team had been there. She takes the bait and allows him to teleport his teammates to help fight her. Only Reed had no intention of bringing just Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. Nope! He brought every single person who has ever been in the Fantastic Four at one time or another – which roughly numbers almost two dozen heroes.

Thumbs down

First, I have never been interested in the Future Foundation, I’m still not interested in the Future Foundation, and I will never be interested in the Future Foundation. Way too much time is spent on the Future Foundation this issue.

Second, The Fantastic Four are finally reunited but only in the last panel of the last page. We still didn’t get any hugs or kisses or tears. That has to wait until next issue. Grrr!

Third, we are left with the setup for another one of those all out slug fests with dozens of characters showing us meaningless action and violence. This is what I call “The Avengers Endgame Syndrome” and nowadays you get it in comics everywhere. This is when you are shown endless number of characters fighting endless numbers of opponents and we’re supposed to lap it up as if this is the best thing since white rice. Well it isn’t it is boring as hell, it is used too often, and it reduces stories to mindless drivel. Welcome to comics in the 21st Century. So sorry you are here.

Thumbs up

Not much. Liked the scenes with Prince Arboro and Valeria. Franklin and his sister have gotten so big. Again the artwork is great! 

Rating

After a wonderful start the folks at Marvel let me down. I’m going to have to give this one two gray geeks. Sorry about that.

“FAMILY REUNION”

The former members of The Fantastic Four leap into action against the Griever while Reed Richards, Sue Richards, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm finally get to hug. And Ben and Johnny see Franklin and Valeria who are five years older (time passes faster in the multiverse). The FF plus two then join the fight. The Griever is finally defeated by Reed tricking her – which anyone who has ever read THE FANTASTIC FOUR knows this is what he does. He outsmarts his enemies. The story ends with our favorite foursome – and the two kids – back together again! Awww!

Thumbs Down

Yep the Avengers Endgame Syndrome is in full swing here. You can skip over those parts because its pure horse hockey!

The long awaited reunion between the four is TOO DAMN SHORT! What are you kidding me? I waited for this and if I had blinked I’d have missed it. Okay, okay, I realize that the Avengers Endgame Syndrome is going on and our heroes have to hurry up and get to the mindless violence. But come on!

Thumbs Up

The Fantastic Four are finally back! It took three issues but they are a family again.

The end tries to make up for the too quick reunion in the middle. It almost makes up for it.

I still love the artwork!

Rating

This issue was much better. Not perfect mind you but much better. I give it three and a half gray geeks.

That’s it for this time gang. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. See you next time when I’ll cover the new FANTASTIC FOUR issues #4 – 6. Remember neighbors it is still dangerous out there. Keep up the good work. Wear your mask, wear your gloves, be the super-hero you always knew you were. Hasta la vista!

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