Friday, August 27, 2010

The Fantastic Three

Apparently Marvel's first family is having something of an anti-membership drive.

According to an interview with Jonathan Hickman earlier in the week, it's his big storyline he's been working towards since he took over the book last year. It's gonna be huge! Drastic! And totally unlike anything the Fantastic Four have ever dealt with!

Assuming you discount the Tom DeFalco run of the mid 90s.

It's okay, everyone wants to forget that run too.

Part of me feels bad for DeFalco. Here's a guy that idolized Stan Lee and Marvel growing up, who fell in love with the witty, innovative stories of the early 60s so hard that the only thing he wanted to do when he got older was write his own. He's like a proto-Robert Kirkman, but without the manifestos.

I can only imagine how exciting it was for DeFalco to start writing the book that started it all. He was going to bring it back to it's roots; make it a book about mystery, intrigue, and exploration. A book that hits the ground running and never stops to take a breath, just like Stan's old stories.

Herein lies the problem.

You see, while Stan wrote his stories at a breakneck pace, he also gave them plenty of time to be people; the kind that his readers, like DeFalco, could identify with. The stories about Attilan, Atlantis, or Annihilus, were just the frosting on a delicious cake of characterization. Defalco didn't quite get that, and instead gave us a big ol'plate of frosting without all that characterization to gum up the works.

To make matters worse, he took over during the gimmick-iest part of the 90s. In short order he made Johnny an arsonist, Sue an exhibitionist, Ben even more hideously disfigured, and Reed a fashion victim (Science vest, to the rescue!).

DeFalco then spiced things up more by: making Johnny's wife Alicia Masters secretly a Skrull; having the ill-fated Dr. Doom heir, Kristoff, on the team's support staff; and introducing the see-X-Men-we-can-do-confusing-too older version of Franklin Richards. It was a rough time to be a fan of The Four.

But the biggest, most daring, drastic thing Defalco did during his six year tenure on the title was kill Reed Richards.

And then kept him dead for the next three years.

It was the ballsiest, most original thing that DeFalco did on the title, even if he didn't take the time to let the characters mourn. It's too bad to, because this could have been one of those classic moments in Fantastic Four history and the set up for a groundbreaking, innovate run that would have made Stan jealous. Instead, Defalco blew right through it, lessening it's impact in both the reader's minds and the history books.

Well except for crazy fans like myself.

So, am I upset that Hickman is doing a similar story? Not at all, I think Hickman will do a bang up job, just like he's been doing for the past year (or so I hear). I think it's a much better creative environment to pull something like this off, and will reverberate through the current Marvel U the way that Reed's death should have in the 90s.

I'm just hoping this time around, the surviving members don't have to be such fashion faux pas.

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