Days Of Future Present

days of future present
If yesterday’s post was too straight forward, today’s will be a little more complicated. “Days Of Future Past” brought on the super epic “Days of Future Present” and ties together the X-books of the time with the Fantastic Four. This ran through four annuals (Uncanny x-Men, X-Factor, Fantastic Four and New Mutants) in the summer of 1990. And it all pivots around Franklin Richards.

An older, adult Franklin from the alternate future where “Days of Future Past” happened travels back in time to the then-current day Marvel Universe, which causes all kinds of craziness with the Fantastic Four and the young, child Franklin. It also causes problems with Rachel Summers, who was originally from the same timeline as adult Franklin where they were romantically involved with each other  and she assumed he was dead. It only gets more confusing as it is revealed that when Rachel traveled back in time, an evil Sentinel/cyborg hybrid called Ahab had followed her, planning on not only killing her but several mutants and super humans who would become in the future. It’s a lot like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, only coming out the summer later.

And as this is going on, both Franklins are having trouble controlling their mutant ability to war reality, which makes things all the more difficult.

The story is a little long at times, but the writing team of Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson and Chris Claremont manage to make it cohesive enough to be enjoyable. But then again, during this time any book that was associated with the three of them was great.

On the art side of things Jackson Guide, Jon Bodganove and Art Adams did a great job. The three of them have unique and timeless styles, and nothing felt out of date save for some of the fashion choices.

Main story aside, there are some other cool moments. We are introduced to Gambit for the first time, who debuts helping Storm (who has been turned back into a teenager) break into the X-Mansion. There is also the first time that Jean Grey meets Rachel, her possible daughter from an alternate future. That must have been awkward.

Speaking of awkward, we also get scenes (like the one pictured) that have both Cable as an adult and as a child in baby Nathan. That’s possible, since Nathan gets sent to the future to be raised, only to come back as Cable. But at the same time I wonder if that aspect of the character’s life was planned out yet.

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Power Pack #26

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Don’t let this picture fool you, but Cloak is a great babysitter.

There is a lot of fun stuff happening in Power Pack #26. The group of kid heroes is on their way back home from an adventure on Kofi Whitemane’s home planet of Kymellia.

As a sidebar, I wonder if there is a reason that the Louise Simonson created the Kymellians, a race of horselike aliens, for this series right around the time her husband Walt created the horse-faced Thor stand-in Beta Ray Bill. It makes you assume that horses were very popular in the Simonson household during this period.

Once they land, Cloak and Dagger find Power Pack, only to attack Kofi and his father Yrik. Kofi literally has to climb inside of Cloak to rescue his father from the dark dimension. Once everyone is safe, Kofi returns home with his father and Cloak and Dagger take the Power Pack kids back to their parents.ck are off to Kymellila to help Kofi’s father fight off a hostile takeover, and they are returning to Earth successful in their mission. Because they essentially disappeared, their parents are quite worried. James and Margaret Power have sent out Cloak and Dagger to find their missing offspring, which was kind of weird to me. Cloak and Dagger weren’t really the most highly regarded heroes in the Marvel Universe at that time. There’s also a pretty funny scene with Power Pack-er Franklin Richard’s parents, Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman, deciphering a note he left behind explaining what they were doing. The Fantastic Four take off into space, only to wind up passing the Kymellian ship that is carrying their children back home.

The final pages show why I loved Power Pack so much as a kid. They may be child super heroes, but they are one big happy family and the story ended with them more concerned over what they were going to have for dinner rather than discuss their intergalactic adventure.

 

 

FF #3

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I’ve gotten through so much of my to read pile that I actually get to blog about something in the recent past! FF #3 continues the fun look at the other Fantastic team in the Marvel Universe.

There is a lot of stuff going on in this issue. Darla Deering is still very uneasy about  being the super hero Miss Thing, let along being an active reserve member of the Fantastic Four and babysitting the Future Foundation. It’s also becoming more clear to her that Scott Lang (Ant Man) has a crush on her. He keeps sending her flowers and has shrunken himself to his ant size to judge her reaction. Before he can find out, the Yancy Street Gang take it upon themselves to throw pies at her. it’s their goal to torment the poor Thing, and since he’s elsewhere occupied she will have to do.

The team and the Future Foundation are still trying to deal with the Johnny Storm from the future. He’s traveled back in time to prevent a future alliance between Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Doom and Annihilus. They still don’t exactly believe him, but are a little less hesitant when Wyatt Wingfoot tells them that he believes that this is the really Johnny. This one was able to answer a question that only the two of them would know.

At this Johnny’s urging, the team is getting ready to find out how to deal with this newest threat. There’s also something going on with the Moloids in the Future Foundation as they go visit Mole Man. The issue ends with Scott and Darla celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

This is really what comics should be. Matt Fraction’s story is complex but lighthearted at the same time. The art team of Mike and Laura Allred is superb. This is one of the best books out there and I can’t wait to fill in the rest of the issues I’ve missed.

Silver Surfer #15: Battling The Human Torch

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You just know any comic book that starts out with the Silver Surfer shopping for a trench coat and fedora is just going to end badly for him. By the middle of this issue he finds out that the Fantastic Four–who he thought were his friends–have been conspiring against him with the US Army.

But first, back to him clothes shopping. Surfer is offered them, as the salesman thinks he is holding up the store which is called “Exclusive Styles Men’s Clothing.” With a name like that it has to be fancy. Surfer won’t accept his generosity. Instead, he turns a stanchion into solid gold. He then doe what we all do with our new clothes: goes out on the town.

Unfortunately he overhears what sounds like the Fantastic Four teaming up with the army. Fearing captivity he lashes out and attacks them. It leads to a high speed, energy blasting battle with the Human Torch across the city that ends abruptly with the Torch almost getting hit by a train. Surfer snaps out of his rage in time to prevent that from happening, as he couldn’t stomach the thought of him letting a friend die in such a grizzly way.

The story ends with Surfer finding out the truth of the army’s visit to Reed Richards: they wanted to recruit him to help assist in the development of space travel. Surfer leaves completely distraught, having blown the one opportunity that mankind wanted to befriend him.

Sub-Mariner #67

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This might be one of the most iconic Sub-Mariner covers of all time. Issue #67 reveals a brand new costume for Namor–the bad ass version designed by John Romita! In this issue, the Sub-Mariner is back and angrier than usual!

Namor is fighting the evil killer whale Orka and the monstrous She-Beast (who has an incredibly boring name) are battling on the floor of the ocean. The Sub-Mariner’s are attempting to destroy Atlantis yet again. In the ensuing battle, Namor winds up getting thrown into the wreckage of an old US Navy submarine. The impact releases a toxic gas into the water that nearly kills Namor.

The underwater Inhuman Triton finds Namor’s sickly body and brings it to the Fantastic Four for help. It turns out that the chemical has somehow changed Namor’s biological makeup, no longer allowing him to spend extended time outside of water. Luckily for him, Reed Richards is able to put together some moisture delivering clothing to make him a new outfit (that reminds me of something that Gene Simmons would have worn during the seventies) to allow him a little more environmental flexibility.

Then Namor goes, well, Namor. Enraged that he has had suffered the indignity of not allowing to walk on land and the fact that this chemical has caused a plague among the Atlanteans, it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned Namor rampage. He trashes the Fantastic Four’s headquarters and then declares war on the surface world.

The book is pure Namor fun; he gets mad and destroys everything in his path, all the while completely being self-absorbed and unreasonable. And as a Namor collector, I like having the first appearance of this iconic look.

FF #1-2

FF-1I know it’s really too late to announce something like this, but FF is really the best new series of 2012. It’s Matt Fraction’s take on a back-up Fantastic Four and it has amazing art by Mike Allred. Really, why aren’t you reading this?

The premise is pretty straight forward; in the recently relaunched Fantastic Four is going on a short-term journey into another dimension and they need someone to look after the Future Foundation (Marvel Universe’s brightest bunch of genius youngsters) and any other fantastic problems in the interim.

Each of the members is picked by a member of the real Fantastic Four, and most powerful scenes are the ones where Mister Fantastic is trying to recruit the recently returned to the living Scott “Ant-Man” Lang to be his substitute, hitting on the fact that Lang is really unsure if he is up to the task. This is in comparison to She-Hulk and Medusa, who have previously helped out.

The new member of the team is Darla Deering, a pink haired woman who Johnny Storm had hooked up with and coerced into helping out. Although she has no powers, she is wearing the Thing’s robotic armor from when he lost his powers.

In the second issue, the team has its first public outing as they fight a large monster under the control of Mole Man, a sort of tribute to the first issue of the original Fantastic Four. It ends with the new team saving the day and dealing with various Human Torches from other realities appearing.

It’s a lot of fun and well written, like most of Fraction’s books. But what I really love is that Allred (and his wife Laura who is a super colorist) has created a dynamic and bright world. Really, this is something that has been missing from super hero comics and it works especially well on this. I would love to see the Allreds on Daredevil.

But yes, this is highly recommendeded  It’s one of the most fun Fantastic Four stories I’ve read in some time, and it doesn’t even feature the proper characters! How cool is that?

Friday Fights #25: Mr. Fantastic vs. Namor

namor-vs-reed-richards-mr-fantasticThis is a perfect post-Valentine’s Day Friday Fights! Even though Invisible Woman’s marriage to Mr. Fantastic is regarded as one of the best marriages/pairings in comics, the relationship is perpetually threatened by an obsessive Namor. So if these two men fought for her hand, who would come out the victor?

There are a few things to consider about this epic battle. Namor has a lot of advantages. He’s much stronger than Reed and can fly. Not to mention, the closer he gets to water the more powerful he becomes. Namor can also be a little bit of a psychopath at times, so you would only assume he could be a little more, um, violent with Reed for standing between him and the woman he obsesses.

Reed’s power of unbelievable elasticity kind of pales in comparison. But then again, that’s usually the case. He usually relies on a myriad of gadgets and inventions created just in case he finds himself in situations like this, not to mention that he usually has his three closest friends with him at all times. So without either, it really gives the advantage to Namor.

But there is one thing missing from this hypothetical battle: Sue. It’s pretty clear that she’s madly in love with Reed. In about forty years of comics, no writer has been able to figure out a way for Namor to split them up. So whether she interferes on her hubby’s behalf (or even pleas for Namor to stop), it is a given that Reed is leaving with Sue. And at the end of the day, that’s what is most important. WINNER:  Mr. Fantastic

Amazing Spider-Man #1

So who saw Amazing Spider-Man for the fourth of July? I didn’t. But I did read the first issue of Spidey’s ongoing series from March 1963.

Amazing Spider-Man #1 wasn’t the first appearance of the wall crawler; he debuted seven months prior in Amazing Fantasy #14. This first issue by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee sets up the tone and direction the character would take.

Basically it really sucks to be Peter Parker. He’s still grieving the loss of Uncle Ben, and him and Aunt May are dealing with some serious financial hardships.

In the first story, Peter get super depressed after finding out that Aunt May has been selling her jewelry and such at the local pawn shop. She can’t pay the bills since Uncle Ben was murdered, which he still blames himself for. Peter plans a stage show with a promoter to get some money quickly. Unfortunately for him (and leading to an absolutely hilarious scene) Spider-Man can’t cash the check because he doesn’t have a Social Security card. I couldn’t stop laughing about this.

As this goes on, we meet J. Jonah Jameson for the first time and he hates Spider-Man.. How much? Even though Spider-Man saves his astronaut son from cashing to his demise, the elder Jameson makes the cover of the Daily Bugle have the headline “This Newspaper Demands That Spider-Man Be Arrested And Prosecuted!”

With the public fearing Spider-Man, Peter will never be able to make any money to support his family.

The second feature continues this “must find money” theme with Spider-Man attempting to join the Fantastic Four. Unfortunately he goes about that the wrong way; breaking into their headquarters at the Baxter Building and then asking them about the financial compensation they get for being heroes wasn’t the best way to go about winning them over. This day only gets worse as he has to stop the Chameleon is masquerading as him in order to steal missile defense plans to sell to the Soviets.

What Ditko and Lee did in this issue was get across how much it sucks to be Peter Parker. Nothing in his life works out. It’s his fault his uncle is dead. It’s his fault that his aunt is just scraping to get by. He has these great powers and abilities, yet everyone fears him. Not only that, but he does so much to help the world and gets nothing to compensate himself. Yet he has to, as he is compelled to do so.

This is why Spider-Man is so likable; he’s down on his luck and anyone can relate to that. Peter Parker is an every man underdog. This was such a fun issue to read; it still holds up nearly fifty years later.

Ghost Rider vs. Galactus?

Have you ever wondered who would win during a Ghost Rider/Galactus fight? The Fantastic Four episode “Planet Eater” addresses that problem. Our fiery headed biker joins forces with the Fantastic Four to stop the devourer of worlds. The only difference is that he isn’t that concerned with saving the earth as much as vengeance.

As we remember, Ghost Rider is a spirit of vengeance, a sort of demonic agent of penance. He rides around making those who have taken a life pay for their crimes. So someone like Galactus would be a big target for him.

Think about it this way; our planet has over four billion people living on it. If Galactus ate the earth, that’s the equivalent of killing that many people at once. Galactus has been around forever, so that death toll is pretty high. I won’t spoil the episode for you, but let’s say that Ghost Rider’s “penance stare” (him channelling and projecting the pain and suffering of victims) is pretty good Galactus repellant.

Because this is from the mid 1990s, he does the penance stare and his jacket, it is safe to say that this is the Dan Ketch incarnation of Ghost Rider. In this episode, Ghost Rider is voiced by Richard Grieco from 21 Jump Street.

Spidey’s Poker Night: Spectacular Spider-Man #21

As I’ve said before, I love single-issue comic book stories. It’s great being able to pick up something and read it in one quick sitting. Writer Paul Jenkins and artist Talent Caldwell put together a forgotten gem of a single-issue story in 2004’s Spectacular Spider-Man #21. Best of all, this features a slice-of-life story that we usually don’t get to see in super hero comics.

Jenkins has put together a story about what should have been a fun evening for a bunch of Marvel’s super heroes—poker night. Little did everyone know that their game would be crashed by the Kingpin, who wants in on this game. Kingpin’s motivation isn’t that he wants a night out with the boys heroes. Instead, he spots everyone money and turns it into a high stakes tournament. If any of the heroes win, they can keep the money and do whatever they wish with it. If Kingpin wins,  he plans on using the money to buy a new yacht named Heroes’ Folly as a way to embarrass them for not being able to beat him in a card game.

Since this is a Spidey book, the game ends the way you think it will.  That’s to be expected. But what makes this such a good read is that the witty dialogue between the characters and how expressive Caldwell makes everyone. There’s a lot of little things going on the side in this book that are briefly mentioned but are expanded through the rest of the story through clever use of facial expressions and posture, like Dr. Strange and his sidekick Wong being completely bewildered by the rules of poker, or Angel and Black Cat being super flirty. After the game,  you are left with the impression that a certain winged mutant  is going to be making out with a certain burglar turned hero. Way to go Warren!

Even the wisecracking between Spidey, the Human Torch and Thing is laugh-out-loud funny. Jenkins and Caldwell deserve a lot of credit; they were able to turn a filler issue into a classic. Go read this.

Splash Page Saturday #9

 

I know this is late, so what? Last week was the fiftieth anniversary of the Fantastic Four’s debut! Hooray! Here’s a pinup by Jack Kirby featuring the Fantastic Four back in the Thing’s old neighborhood on Yancy Street.

And as usual, it’s a bad experience. You can see Dr. Doom up in the right corner, and he’s responsible for the welcoming graffiti. Happy anniversary!