Molten Man vs Human Torch

Suggested by Sonic The Molten Man is not someone to be underestimated that’s for sure. Still, he isn’t ready to handle a character who burns as brightly as the Human Torch. The Human Torch is far too quick and far too clever to be bested here. None of the Molten Man’s attacks will cause him any fear and it will be tough for the guy to keep up either. So no matter how you slice it, the Human Torch has the advantage here. Human Torch wins.

Mothra vs Human Torch

Suggested by Destroyer Mothra is known as one of the more powerful Kaiju due to having many different variations that she can use in combat. These forms won’t be scaring Human Torch though. The guy is just too fast and his flames burn brighter than what any Kaiju is used to dealing with. Even Leo will not offer enough protection here as Mothra is ultimately overwhelmed. Human Torch wins.

Human Torch vs Hyperion

Suggested by Sonic The Human Torch is a pretty powerful guy whose fire abilities are second to none. He’s a fast flier as well but ultimately none of that will help to protect him from Hyperion. The main trouble for the FF member is that Hyperion is all but invulnerable. He can just fly through the flames and end this with a punch. Hyperion wins.

Fantastic Four: Fantastic Origins Review

It’s time to look at a recent take on the Fantastic Four origin story. It’s definitely a classic origin that everyone knows pretty well by now, but it hasn’t been remade quite as often as some other origins like Batman’s or Spiderman’s. It’s also been a while since I read it so it was a fun trip down memory lane. There are some new elements added like the Mole Man, but for the most part it plays it pretty straight and is certainly a solid comic.

So the book starts with Reed Richards deciding that he wants to be the first person to go to space with his crew and investigate some cosmic rays. He gets his Susan, Johnny, and Ben Grimm to go with him. His partner in science warns Reed not to do this, but he doesn’t listen and they all get blasted by cosmic rays. Now Reed can stretch, Human Torch can fly and shoot fire, The Thing has a rock solid defense and super strength while Sue can turn invisible and create powerful barriers. They are now going to be called the Fantastic Four and must keep the world safe from those who would oppose it.

The first half of the book is about the heroes getting used to their abilities and after that we get two main adventures. The first one deals with the Mole Man as he shows up to attack the city. His underground monster is certainly fierce and since the city has no real protectors at the moment he does a lot of damage. It’s a pretty fun first story and the direction they took the Mole Man in here was unique. It’s a nice spin on the typical adventure and seeing him as a supporting character would be pretty fun. He’s no Reed Richards but certainly quite smart in his own way.

The other story involves Namor as he regains his memories and decides to destroy the city. He also ends up falling for Invisible Woman in a sub plot. I’ve never been a big fan of the guy and that hasn’t changed now. He just feels really petty all the time and not very smart either. He’s like a very petty version of Aquaman. It’s still a solid follow up story though the first one wins on all fronts. This certainly won’t be the last time the FF have to deal with this guy.

There is also one bonus adventure at the end which works as a preview for another series. We see the FF deal with the Wizard and Reed then heads back to base where he has been quite distant for a while. The various clones that the Wizard creates disturbed him and so he heads to his secret place, a convention of Reed Richards from various parallel universes. A few of them even have the Infinity Gauntlet and they have invited the main version to join them. It’s a pretty compelling pilot and I did enjoy the artwork quite a bit. Reed’s current design would take some getting used to, but I could definitely see the arc being quite great.

Back to the main comics here though. One thing I liked here was how quick Reed was able to find a cure for Thing and his determination here. Part of why Ben was always upset is because Reed is so smart that he could do just about anything and yet curing The Thing always seemed to be something that was quite far off. That’s not the case here and in general Reed is just quite solid. He’s one of the more underrated geniuses in Marvel seeing as how I would actually put him as the smartest character in the verse.

Invisible Woman also looks good and her powers get a lot of credit. She’s always been the strongest member of the team, but the original comics didn’t always do a great job of showing it. There is no doubt who the power hitter is in this collection and that’s a good thing. How do you beat someone with near unbreakable barriers and an array of other force related abilities? Human Torch easily gets the smallest role of the 4, but he’s in character. He definitely has the most fun with his abilities.

The Thing is my only real problem with the comic. His bad attitude is usually not all that justified but other comics have done a better job of showing why he’s so upset. Here he goes from 0-100 as he tries to murder Reed almost as soon as they exit the ship. I thought that was a bit much and a total overreaction considering what just happened. There wasn’t even enough time for the implications of the crash to totally hit him. Reed handles this as best he can, but the Thing never truly came back from this rocky start.

Meanwhile the Mole Man looked pretty good and as I mentioned earlier he has a bit of a unique character arc here. I get the feeling that he would ultimately turn evil if the series were to keep going, but at least right here right now he wasn’t bad and gets to be in an adviser position. There may quickly get to be too many brains in the room though. In this version Reed has an assistant who doesn’t get along with Sue all that much. Fortunately the comic doesn’t even try to turn this into a romance triangle because Reed’s definitely not the kind of guy to waver and Sue’s not petty enough to actually get too upset at the assistant. Nevertheless, they don’t get along much and I wonder what the point of this character is. She doesn’t hurt things or anything, but if you cut her out then nothing really changes at all.

The intro also throws you a few easter eggs like a quick cameo from Dr. Doom. I’d say that the story did as much as it could within the page count and is one of the better origin stories. I also thought the art was really solid. It is definitely above average and the pages all flow together really well. I ended up reading the trade from cover to cover. Sometimes it’s nice to go back to the simple days of street level threats rather than galactic showdowns. This is a comic that new and longtime fans can enjoy.

Overall, This is a pretty solid comic. It takes us back to the basics of the series while keeping the adventures fresh. The Thing is still pretty ungrateful the whole timed you ask me but he definitely did get the worst transformation out of the 4. Reed brings up an interesting point that the other 3 can at least look normal through sheer willpower so it is odd that the Thing can’t do so. Maybe one day he would be able to control his power, that would definitely be a cool plot twist. If you haven’t read this comic yet then I would certainly suggest checking it out. The writing is pretty sound and it’s an engaging read.

Overall 7/10

King Cold vs Human Torch

Suggested by Destroyer Human Torch is a pretty tough fighter to stop since he can just melt whatever opposition in his way. That being said, I’m not sure if he really has what it takes to stop King Cold. King Cold can destroy planets in the blink of an eye. His speed is absolutely insane and Human Torch won’t even be able to see him go by. The gap in their abilities is tremendous and there isn’t really anything that Johnny can even do about that. King Cold wins.

Invaders Classic The Complete Collection Volume 1 Review

The Invaders were a classic group of Marvel heroes from back in the day. I believe that a retcon turned some of their adventures into Earth II romps, but many fans remember them from back in the day. I also could be thinking of DC as retcons affected their old issues a lot more than Marvel’s. These issues helped people vent out their frustrations as the heroes took the Nazi’s down a few pegs and helped the US look quite good. It’s always a blast to see them winning battles and these retro comics never get old. There were more super threats here than I would have expected like the tricky Master Man.

There are quite a few issues are you would expect from such a large collection. For the most part, the issues are all stand alones and while there is certainly a continuity present, you don’t need to worry about it all that much. Some stories do go on for a little while though like Toro being shot, which pushed the Human Torch over the edge for a little while. The villains went too far that time and they certainly ended up regretting it. Another story arc, which actually lasted the longest involves Union Jack as he decided to come out of retirement to help the heroes.

His daughter was distraught about this as her father was quite old and would almost certainly perish in these battles. She wasn’t wrong as he was crippled very quickly and then she decided to fight with the heroes as Spitfire, after a blood transfusion from the Human Torch gave her the ability of super speed. Union Jack couldn’t fight anymore, but he gave his costume to his son who ended up inheriting it. Considering how old some of these comics are (Not as old as you would expect though as the issues actually came out in the 1970’s, but are made to feel like the 1940’s.) the story lines can be quite deep and intense. For the most part though, you’re just here to see the heroes beating the Nazi’s and you don’t need much of a plot beyond that right?

Another really fun pair of issues was when the mind controlled Invader’s had to fight the classic heroes like the Whizzer, Guardian, and a few others. It was like watching old heroes fight ancient ones and while the Invader’s had the massive advantage in skill, the old timers put up a good fight and showed that they can still fight. While the Whizzer and one of the other members were constantly bickering, they still had powers for the most part so they were useful in the fights. Team against team battles are always a blast.

The heroes are all fairly likable. The Human Torch is my second favorite hero and he nearly passed Captain America for me, but the drama with Spitfire hurt his case a little. He was actually active as a hero long before Captain America joined the crew so he has the most experience and he’s certainly not afraid of fighting with Namor. He relishes the challenge and Human Torch will do whatever’s necessary to protect the US. It’s cool to see him from these days as he finally became a major player in the modern FF comics from not too long ago.

Captain America is true to character and essentially identical to his modern incarnation except that he’s far more heroic. He doesn’t need to make any of the tough calls here as he just fights for what’s right and makes sure that everyone else is in line. At one point, Bucky is kidnapped so Captain America declares that if he has been harmed, he shall commit cold blooded murder for the first time! The characters like to make very grand and bold gestures like this one and it shows that they’re finally getting serious. The heroes are all tempted to destroy Hitler at one point, but they decide not too. It’s all about showing that they will stick to their morals through thick and thin. Despite Captain America’s words, he didn’t actually destroy everyone, but Bucky was safe. If he hadn’t been, you could tell that Captain America meant business. Did this all sound contradictory? Good.

Namor is an interesting case as he is technically the strongest member of the group and makes sure to mention this as much as possible. He fought off the other Invaders when things got personal as one of his underwater troops decided to join the Nazi’s. He’s typically useful even though he threatens the rest of the surface dwellers a lot and aims to defect once the war is over. His true allegience is to the sea after all and the other members are aware of this. That being said, his weakness to any form of humidity is a big one and it takes him out of action very quickly at times. I don’t mind him disliking the humans, but Namor can be a little annoying at times.

Spitfire joined the group in the second half of the collection and her talents certainly come in handy. I could have done without the drama between her, Human Torch, and Captain America, (To his credit, he is basically oblivious to the whole thing) but her super speed instantly makes Spitfire one of the strongest members of the team. Who knows, maybe you could make a case for her being the most powerful individual on the team. It was cool that she got to help keep the family name going since her father retired. I liked the original Union Jack a lot so I was worry to see him go. The british catchphrases were a lot of fun, but the new Destroyer fellow should do a good job of keeping up the mantle. I was worried that the original Union Jack would be jealous for a while, but it only took him an issue to get over this ordeal.

Bucky is sort of like Robin from these days. He was really vocal when talking about how cool Captain America is and he never let anyone insult him, which made for a few fights between him and Toro. Bucky definitely has the edge in hand to hand combat, although Toro would wreck him in an all out fight. Bucky means well and was likable for the most part, but he did look bad in the comic where he assembled some heroes to beat the brainwashed Invaders. (Unlike the JSA, who never helped the Nazi’s, the Invaders were forced too) Instead of telling the other heroes about his plan or just waiting the extra 5 minutes to discuss it with the government, he decided to fight the Guardian on National Television and act like the bad guy. There was no reason for this and he comes off as a little insane to the viewers. What if the heroes had decided that he wasn’t good enough to lead them or that it was some kind of joke?

Toro got quite a few plot twists about his backstory which gave him some development. The twists weren’t really needed I suppose, but why not right? It’s better than nothing and makes him a more relevant character when you think about it. He’s no Human Torch, but he helps out in the fight. His bond with the Torch is so strong that when he was shot, the Human Torch instantly incinerated the guy who shot him. That was probably the only death in the comics where we saw the hero do it with the intent to destroy the guy. It was certainly a deep moment even if the comic tried to quickly brush it off.

There are a few named villains scattered throughout the comics, but there were really just two who gave the heroes a run for their money. One was the Master Man, who was essentially a Nazi version of Captain America. His ideals are the opposite of the American hero and he certainly means business in a fight. He can fly and his super strength is greater than Captain America’s. I always found that ironic since everyone wants the super soldier serum even though it has been surpassed so many times. Master Man’s definitely not a likable character, but as a villain he is certainly a threat. He was shown to easily be able to defeat the Invaders and the heroes can never win against him without plot devices. Seriously, you could call the guy overpowered as he just makes the heroes look bad whenever they fought.

Making matters worse for the heroes was the debut of the Warrior Woman. She took her own Super Soldier serum and her abilities were about on par with Cap’s. This meant that she was still a little too tough for most of the Invader’s. Hitler was still obsessed with showing off his power though so he arranged for Warrior Woman to marry Master Man instead of joining in the fight. She didn’t like this, but didn’t do anything about it. That certainly helped make sure that she wouldn’t be a likable character either. At least there were now two villains for the Invaders to fight, even if it meant that they really should not have a ghost of a chance! It was interesting to have two super villains in the WW II days and this certainly spiced up the fight scenes. Namor became the only hero who could fight these two opponents on equal ground.

One of the issues was a lot of fun because the Invaders were warped to the future to fight the Avengers. The story had already happened in the Avengers title so this way we got to see it from the Invader’s point of view. That was definitely a neat experience and it helped to remind the readers that this is still relevant to the rest of the universe. To be honest, I was definitely rooting for the Invader’s this time and while it’s safe to say that they were losing, they put up a good fight. Dealing with foes like Vision and Black Panther can just be a little dicey. I can see Captain America beating the Black Panther, but he had his old shield and was likely tired from his adventure. Yellow Jacket would be doomed against anyone, but Vision’s the true threat. Either way, while it may have been a little out of place in the down to Earth WW II stories, it was a very fun issue.

The art is quite good as you would expect from a retro Marvel comic. All of the character designs are on point and the simplicity of the art allows you to read through the comics very quickly. The fights are also pretty engaging and are actually drawn at length rather than being rushed into a page or two. The colors are not quite vibrant as they’re purposefully pale, but they work in this context.

As always, the writing is one of the strengths of the issues. I particularly like the subtle USA vs Britain debates that the heroes have as Captain America uses his American jokes and Union Jack purposefully uses his Britain slang to get his point across. Cap asks him if he’s half American at times, which Jack always denies very quickly. They’re both proud of their countries and it makes for some nice team ups. I still wince a little when the UK characters call the heroes “Yanks” but I suppose that it was an acceptable nickname at the time. I dunno, it just feels unrefined and I prefer “chap” to be honest. (That used to be the British slang for pal or person anyway)

You can also tell that this is an older comic as all of the heroes bow their heads and pray in the final comic as the original Union Jack says to leave it in the hands of the one who will really decide his fate. You likely won’t see everyone praying like that in a modern comic. It’s really good to see and scenes like this show that despite their super powers, all heroes can still acknowledge God and his sovereignty. Definitely a great way to end the main issues.

Overall, This Invader’s collection was actually a lot of fun. I just eat this stuff up and I’ve always had a soft spot for the old comics. They were just pure popcorn entertainment that you could read at anytime. If only the modern comics would take a few pointers from these issues right? I actually didn’t know that there was a volume 2 for a while as I didn’t notice the large one on the cover, but hopefully the library gets that part soon. Either way, I definitely recommend checking this comic collection out. It may be around 500 pages, but maybe that’s a good thing since this way you get more value for your purchase! There is a lot of commentary from the writers throughout the issues as well, which is definitely a lot of fun! You won’t regret this read.

Overall 8/10

Fantastic Four (2015) Review

This film was certainly underwhelmed a whole lot of people. It’s very hard to find any positive reviews of it online as I’ve only seen one myself. (Though tomatoes should have a few more) IRL I’ve only met 2 others who really liked it at the moment so things aren’t looking too good for the film. It was essentially doomed before it ever came out critically, but I thought that the trailers showed potential. This wouldn’t be the next Avengers, but it would be a good film and I was right on the money with that hunch!

Well, this is essentially the origin story of the team so the plot is self explanatory. Reed Richards is a super genius and one day he manages to build a teleporter. The government quickly recruits him so that they can travel to another dimension to use that planet’s resources to keep Earth alive for a little while longer and maybe even colonize it. The leader’s daughter has been helping with the project for a while and the guy’s son is pulled onto the project so that he can earn his car back after getting it banged up in a street race. Finally, Reed flexes his intellectual muscles and gets his old friend onto the team roster in time for the big experiment. Unfortunately, the heroes got too curious as they messed with the environment of the other dimension (Mostly Dr Doom’s fault) and they each got fantastic powers. Can they use them to save the world now!?

In that regard, the film plays out like you would expect. You definitely don’t want to go into this film expecting a lot of action as it’s more of a slice of life origin adventure. As long as you like the characters and atmosphere, then you’ll be okay. It’s certainly not as good as the MCU backdrop or the ASM series, but a steady improvement over the X-Men series. I was interested the whole time and the characters became likable/charismatic right away so it was fine to just see them talk and hang out even if Reed Richards was really miscast, which can be distracting.

The writing is one of the film’s weaknesses though. The language isn’t terrible, but it still comes at you a little more often than you would like. I always have to shake my head at this since older films never had this problem. I just hope that the English language doesn’t continue to deteriorate or we’re going to need more main characters to be like Mario, rarely talking except for a choice line or two. That being said, I don’t have a problem with the writing in terms of the plot or what happens in the film, just the language aspect.

In terms of the movie dialogue, I’d say that it was reasonable. Nothing spectacular, but nothing bad either. There’s certainly a lot of foreshadowing to get you ready for things that will happen later on in the film. Wondering if Dr Doom is here? The film name drops him right away for long time fans. Fantastic Four even essentially tells you how the film’s going to end with a what if scenario that someone insults Reed with a few times. One can make a comparison to Ant Man here as when Pym explained that nobody’s ever come back from shrinking to the Microverse, that felt like a bit of a dare to the viewers and Scott. Of course, those things tend to really come to you in hindsight as while you’re watching the film, you aren’t typically thinking about them much. I personally prefer to just enjoy the banter and action so I don’t pay too much attention to the hidden meanings of the dialogue unless it’s just that epic of a line.

Reed is the main character of course and he’s a nice guy. I’m just saddened by the fact that the film miscast one of the easiest characters to portray. I feel like almost anyone could do it, but the actor has to be older. It’s why I loved the scene where the film trolled everyone by having Reed pretend that he was older via shape shifting. If he had looked like that the entire film, I would have been thrilled! Reed shows how he is a natural born leader when the going gets tough and we can expect him to continue to use his powers in innovative ways in the sequel. I am glad that Reed has a very tough personality here. In the generic intimidation scene where Dr Doom tries to tell Reed to get away from Sue, Reed just interrupts him to say that he already finished the project ages ago and was going to go take a nap. That was certainly a hype moment and I’m glad that he didn’t just slink away like you would see in most movies.

Ben Grimm’s backstory appeared briefly here and I’m glad that it was so short since his plot could have hurt the film had it gone on any longer. Besides that, I didn’t care to see him as a kid, I wanted to see his superhero form! The Thing costume from the older films was considerably better than this depiction, but I could say the same for every other character so that’s not saying too much. He looks decent although he should have had the traditional pants. I think he gives up on Reed a little too easily and also loses sight of himself without a whole lot of help so he’s not the strongest of the characters in terms of strength of will. He started to destroy a lot of people without hesitation. He’ll likely be more like the happy go lucky Thing we’re used too in future films…hopefully.

Sue was a good heroine and actually defied all of the stereotypical roles as she did not randomly fall in love with Reed for no inexplicable reason. I can’t tell you how glad I was at this as I was expecting a Man of Steel type ending, which would have been very wince worthy. Her subtle insults at Reed were also pretty good like when she tried to ignore him by putting her headphones back on or telling him that his little science experiment almost cost people billions of dollars by taking out the electricity over the east coast. She certainly gave him a tough time and that’s how it should be since he was the new guy on the block. She never overdid it though and they still get along.

Johnny was always going to be an interesting character to watch because of how the film decided to culturally change him. His core personality is essentially intact. He’s still a hot head who has a lot of fun with his powers, he’ll just have slightly different mannerisms and slang words to fit his new character. He’s handled well for the most part and I’m glad that he masters his powers with ease. He doesn’t help with the whole language issue from the film, but none of them really do so it’s not exclusive to him. I did think that it was a little odd how his car almost went out at the beginning of the race since he’s supposed to be a really good mechanic, but I’ll just assume that it was a lucky break for the opponents. I feel like his role was a lot smaller than the other 3, but he’ll likely have his chance to shine next time.

Finally, we have Dr. Doom. You can’t help, but chuckle when you first see him since it seems like the film was intentionally trying to make him look bad. If they were going for a Mandarin level twist, they certainly achieved that! Of course, it would have had more effect if his first scene was his last one. Still, it was neat when he ultimately got his powers, but as a character, he’s not great. He flirts with Sue quite a bit and that always hurt him for me. What I do like about him is the whole anti government personality as that’s always very humorous.

He asks the tough questions and makes the heroes wonder about their mission. After all, it is inevitable that we will wreck that dimension like this one so should we really allow people to go there? He doesn’t think so and that’s why he ultimately grabs his power. He’s certainly a villain, but at least he has a goal that I can sympathize with. If he takes out the Earth, then the other dimension will be safe from those attackers and Doom can live with the world in unity. In this version, that’s how he gets his powers, which are quite impressive.

He’s essentially got telekinesis so he can move rocks around or blow people’s heads up by concentrating. It’s a little overpowered though as the heroes shouldn’t really have a chance against that. The one thing that they have going for them is that they seem to be immune to having their heads blown up. In theory, this is because the ooze that gave them their powers made them immune to that ability or just strengthened their bodies enough to withstand it. The film never gives an explanation, but that makes the most sense. Even then, Dr. Doom probably should have taken the win as he mostly just stood there and allowed the heroes to gain ground. He wouldn’t win many Super Smash battles against Sheik is he stayed on the defensive for so long!

As for the fight scenes, they’re quite good even though they’re short. Reed taking down the gunmen in the forest was pretty epic. It’s too bad that he couldn’t have really fought the Thing as that would have made for a good matchup. At that point in time, The Thing would certainly have the edge, but with a little prep time, Reed could definitely turn the tables. The final fight scene is definitely very epic as the backdrop is like something out of a video game with Dr Doom being the final boss. It’s very short though, which really hurts the fight scene and I would have liked the heroes to have used their powers more. Specifically Human Torch as he was taken out for most of the fight thanks to the rocks at Doom’s disposal. The way that Thing was taken out was a little anticlimactic and I’m calling plot hax on the Invisible Woman, but it just goes to show that they wouldn’t be quite as deadly without Mr Fantastic!

Surprisingly, the film got pretty violent in one action scene. It was like something out of a horror movie as the colors became very dark and the lights started to flicker. Dr. Doom just went around blowing people up without a care in the world and it reminded me of the walls in the Arkham games. I think that could have been toned down a little as it was unnecessary. It was an interesting tribute to the horror films out there, but I’ve never been a fan of them so I could do without that.

Unfortunately, there’s not much of a soundtrack here. That’s too bad as it always adds an extra pop to a film. The visuals were great so mixing that up with some fast paced techno music or something would have been pretty intense. Even some fast music for the dialogue would have been fun. The film just felt strangely silent a lot of the time. It really helps to capture the slice of life feel, but at the expense of that action feel we wanted. Oh yeah, it should be noted that there’s no animal violence here as the anime test trial was successful so the Ape lived. That was probably one of the best moments in the film.

So, time to compare this to the first two films! I do think that the first two win because the actual Fantastic Four as well as Dr Doom were better than their modern versions. I remember the writing being better and I also preferred the costumes/actors. Beating those films was always going to be tough though and I never expected it to top those. Still, Dr Doom can now continue to say that he has been the main villain in every single Fantastic Four film. That series certainly liked him as an opponent.

The ending of the film also gives the franchise a lot of hope. The next film would deal with the Fantastic Four actually being established and finally having their own Baxter Building. It would likely feel more like the comic book version than even the original films. The FF are respected by the government and they’re essentially rich now. There are just so many possibilities! I do think that it was a little unoriginal to steal Avengers Age of Ultron’s final line though. It’s a cool concept, but stealing it just isn’t right.

Overall, Fantastic Four was a solid movie. It’s definitely going to end up being a very underrated one. The score is incredibly low at the moment and now conspiracy theorists can speculate on whether Disney is destroying all other attempts to make non Disney owned Marvel films. If X-Men Apocalypse is critically panned (I could see it getting under a 50 for various reasons, but nowhere near FF level) then things will start to get dicey. Those kind of theories are always pretty epic to hear about, but sometimes it’s just a matter of everyone disliking a film or a big reviewer kicking things off and then the others jump on the train. “Wait…was this hype?” Yes..yes it was. I definitely hope that this movie ends up getting a sequel, but like The Amazing Spiderman, we may have just lost what could have been a beautiful franchise. The bright side is that now Mr. Fantastic can get recast. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, I definitely recommend checking this movie out. It’s got good characters, and some solid action scenes! It’s also fairly short so the pacing is quite fast and it may not be in theaters for long so you’re going to want to hurry and view it before the time is past.

Overall 7/10

Fantastic Four Volume 4 The End Is Fourever Review

It’s time to look at the end of an era for the Fantastic Four. They’ve had some really great runs over the years like the Hickman epic and the classic run. A lot of things have happened over the years and now the plots can all wrap up. The collection ends on a high note and things wrap up nicely without feeling forced or rushed. We even get some fun guest stars!

The Fantastic Four has been split apart recently. The kids were kidnapped by the Wizard, Mr Fantastic was kidnapped by a guy who wants to be known as the Peace Man or something like that. The Human Torch doesn’t have his powers anymore and the Thing has just barely gotten away from prison. As you can see, they aren’t really ready to stop a worldwide invasion by aliens, but they decide to give it a whirl anyway. They’ve made plenty of friends over the years and they’ll need all of them if they want to win this battle.

This collection is essentially nonstop action, which is really rare for the Fantastic Four series. The alien insects are everywhere so we get cameos from several Avengers. The Avengers don’t look so good once again, but it’s mainly SHIELD that starts things off on a rocky note as they decide to attack the Hulk. Everyone eventually gets over the mix-up, but it did give us a nice excuse for a quick fight scene, which is always a solid way to kick things off. The Fantastic Four’s group definitely would have won had the battle kept going since they had the Hulk on their side and Invisible Woman could have handled the rest of the group.

The art is quite good as you would expect from the Fantastic Four series. The fight scenes are vibrant and colorful while the dialogue scenes flow naturally. This is certainly an easy comic to read as a result and I had a fun time blasting through it. The final issues also celebrate its 75th anniversary so we get a few short stories and one issue where we see what all of the other heroes were doing when the Fantastic Four first formed. That was fun and there were certainly a lot of guest stars so the comic really tried not to leave anyone out.

The comic also had some really good writing and it was an interesting read from start to finish. Mr Fantastic got his props as he was able to foil most of the villain’s plan on his own and also broke free from the trap. He is Mr Fantastic after all and while some of Marvel’s other geniuses like Tony Stark typically get more publicity, I’d consider Mr Fantastic to easily be the smartest man in the Marvel Universe. I wouldn’t take anyone against him in a battle of wits and he’s still my favorite member of the Fantastic Four. He was portrayed perfectly here!

The Thing looked good and he was certainly willing to jump into the fray right away. He’s a character who’s had his ups and downs, but I’m glad to say that this would be more of an up for him. The Human Torch looks nice and heroic. The comic still plays up his flirty side a bit, which is regrettable, but he doesn’t go totally overboard in the past so the writer did a decent job with him compared to past incarnations. Invisible Woman continues to show why she is a threat in any fight since her force abilities are really effective against all fighters. There’s a twist about why she has been using her powers more freely lately, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they are still her powers. Once she gets used to them a little more, she’ll be back to being a big threat in the Marvel universe.

The villains aren’t very high profile, but they’re not bad either. I’ve never been much of a fan of the Psycho Man, but his abilities are decent I suppose. I much preferred the peace guy who did escape so that’ll be a plot to delve into in the future I suppose. He’s quite smart even though he was duped by one of the other villains. I actually liked him as a villain since he seems to be a good match for Mr. Fantastic.

The subplot with the kids wasn’t bad as the kid made the right call and showed everyone that he’s not a true villain deep down. I don’t think that he should have played along from the beginning to be honest, but it all worked out in the end. The plot was not quite as interesting as any of the others, but at least it gave the kids some closure so maybe they won’t be needed in future arcs. I still don’t really like how Valeria is portrayed to be as smart, if not smarter than Mr Fantastic. That’s still a little iffy if you ask me.

I do appreciate the fact that the comic mentions why most of the Avengers aren’t around to help. Since the invasion is taking place across the whole planet, they have to protect the other countries that have less superheroes. This is a great reason for them not being around and I wish that more comics would acknowledge this. New York has all of the big threats so I’m glad that some stuck around, but the other countries have far less superheroes so they could definitely use the help.

After the nonstop action for most of the collection, I didn’t mind the short stories at the end. The camping story with Mr Fantastic and Valeria was fun and we got to see that Mr Fantastic did have fun enjoying nature when he wasn’t busy inventing things. The Thing’s was a little sad for him with the ending, but it shows that he’s always ready to help. I’m not sure if short stories would have worked as well if they had been the whole collection, but they still would have been fun to read in a different way when compared to the action. Both techniques work when the writing is good enough. The fact that we had fake versions of the Avengers was also awesome since it gave us an excuse to see Thor and Iron Man take on the Fantastic Four. Scarlet Witch even fights her doppleganger. The villains aren’t really a threat here and it’s really just to show you all of the friends that the Fantastic Four have made over the years. Trust me, they’ve made quite a lot of them!

Overall, This was a really fun volume. Whether you’ve read the previous ones or not, it’s easy to jump right into the action. A lot of things happened to set up the situation, but it’s easy to understand what the situation is and what the heroes have to do to stop the invasion. It’s too bad that most of the Avengers are busy, but the Fantastic Four are always more than a match for any adversary. The team is essentially a blank slate now so they can really do whatever they feel like doing now. It’s a great way to hand over the comic to a new creative team since there are no big subplots unfolding at the moment. This was a good run and an epic end to it so I recommend this collection to all Marvel fans.

Overall 8/10

Fantastic Four Volume 2 Original Sin Review

It’s time to look at one of the more modern Fantastic Four series. Yup, not the Future Foundation, and not the fake Fantastic Four, but the real deals. Nowadays, they simply aren’t as big as the X Men or Avengers so they barely have any titles. Hopefully the new film will fix that…maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it. Also, as one of the only Original Sin tie ins that I’ve read, it’s nice to get into the event.

The Fantastic Four are in a real pickle. The Human Torch has lost his powers and a court has decreed that the Fantastic Four must surrender custody of their kids over to Shield. Moreover, the heroes must leave their home and leave all of their belongings there. Anything that is deemed to not be a threat will be given back to them at some point. Then, the whole “Original Sin” debacle happens and the Thing finds out that Reed Richards and Johnny Storm have kept a secret from him for quite a while so he gets framed for murder and sent to prison….it’s been a tough week.

As you can see, things are at an all time low for the heroes. What can they really do at this point? Reed takes this opportunity to take a job over at this futuristic island. He can now work in peace and try to make the world a better place. Admittedly, this plot seems a little boring at the moment, but I’m assuming that it will go somewhere. I’m also assuming that the other workers are all evil, but maybe I’m just a little paranoid. Invisible Woman is heading off to Latveria to visit Valorie, the only kid who wasn’t taken my Shield. After all, they wouldn’t dare attack Doom’s country right? Human Torch is coping by listening to music and partying..basically ruining his reputation even more.

As for the Thing, he’s stuck in Jail so it’s not like he can really do anything about this whole affair. Unfortunately, it’s one of those corrupt jails with a villain in charge. She Thing decided to turn into a villain and she runs the joint now. Power inhibitors have taken away everyone’s powers aside from hers. Since she’s motivated to hurt Thing by an unknown assailant, she is in charge of making things painful for him during his stay. Hopefully the other heroes bust him out soon since this is probably the most annoying subplot. Why do the heroes never try to find out what is going on in these jails? Thing better get out of their soon before the plot starts to drag on in a bad way.

Speaking of which, these events are all part of a villain’s plan. That seems to be the case anyway as the court proceedings were all rather fishy. The orders apparently came from somewhere above the Avenger’s clearance as well as Shield’s. And….the heroes don’t really have a problem with this. It’s rather sad. Then, a super villain group is tasked with attacking Reed Richards and they are getting paid for this. Luckily, Reed is saved by the Scarlet Witch in the big cliff hanger, but you have to hope that the Avengers are looking into this matter. Finally, Thing’s subplot is being totally orchestrated by the villain. I’m expecting it to be someone like the Thinker, but we shall see. Either way, he certainly has the upper hand at this point.

Back to the Avengers, this makes them look really bad as per usual. Once again, they’re shown to be lackeys to the government. Reed was actually glad to see them at first because he thought they were there to help the Fantastic Four with the current situation. Nope, they were there to make sure that the FF didn’t try to enter their home. This wasn’t a peaceful mission either, as the Avengers made sure to bring in all of their heavy hitters. They weren’t nice about it either as they immediately pointed their blasters at the FF. Sue Richards wouldn’t have any of that and she managed to put up a pretty good fight. She blew the Avengers away with a force blast and proved that she could control Thor’s hammer. She may have even been able to defeat them if the original Human Torch hadn’t intervened. Sue decided to call off the attack, but the comic does show why she is certainly one of the stronger fighters around. The Avengers should watch their backs and try to be likable heroes again. I really hope the films never go this route in terms of character development.

As for the original Human Torch, he seems like a decent character. I definitely find him a little suspicious as he seems too good to be true, but maybe he really does want to help. Maybe. Either way, he’s kept his end of the bargain so far as he saved the life of one of the Future Foundation members. Shield was planning to destroy him of course, but they are Shield. Maria Hill made the hero call this time, hopefully she can continue to take the high road and ignore the orders coming in from a shady source. Since when does Shield actually take orders from the government anyway? They’ve always got their own agenda and seem to just do what they want whenever they want.

One aspect of the comic that can be a little humorous is how the heroes love to state the official names for all of the characters. An example of this is when Scarlet Witch appears. In similar words, Reed says “My Gosh, it’s Wanda Maximoff……THE SCARLET WITCH!” and it’s a rather grand introduction, but it will make you wonder why Reed had to recite the whole thing. This happens with the Sandman as well and other villains/heroes throughout the comic. I guess it’s a good way for the readers to keep track of who’s who, but the human identities don’t matter all that much so we may as well just mention the super names right? Although I’ve gotten in the habit of calling Mr Fantastic, Reed Richards instead of his super hero name.

The art for the comic is certainly good. I’d say that it’s a step up from All New X Men. I definitely can’t wait until the Fantastic Four are back in their classic blue uniforms, but the red ones aren’t bad. The action scenes certainly stand out and all of the characters models appear to be accurate. This is certainly another good example of what good artwork looks like and I have no qualms with it.

As for the Original Sin that the Thing found out about, I seriously think that he is overreacting. He wishes that Reed and Johnny had gone to him and admitted that it was Johnny’s fault for him not being cured. First of all, I don’t see why that would make a difference. The Thing would have pouted for a while, but then gotten over it. It would be like bringing up a past mistake. The Thing knows that it didn’t work, he just doesn’t know why it didn’t work. If Reed later on made up some phony reason for why it didn’t work, then that would be another story. As it is, they probably just didn’t bring it up again. A lot of Reed’s attempts failed back in the day so why should this one be any different? The Thing takes the whole thing way too hard and I thought that he had mostly accepted his powers by now. Maybe someday he will, but it seems like an issue that he will never get over at this point.

Overall, This was a good volume of Fantastic Four. It’s rather light on the action as it is just focusing on how bad the circumstances are for the Fantastic Four. Hopefully it picks up for them soon since the villain really has the upper hand here. It’s a clever scheme, but my imagination can only hold out for so long before I start to wonder why nobody has figured out that they are being framed. I also hope that the Thing gets out of prison soon since that plot can certainly drag on. The art is solid and you’ll get to see how the FF vs Avengers fight could play out in a movie. I recommend this comic to anyone who wants to see an example of how unified the Marvel universe is now. It is always fun to see how many fighters are in NYC. There isn’t as much popcorn fun as the average comic, but I’m sure that the fights will be intensifying in future volumes. Hopefully the Human Torch gets his powers back soon as well!

Overall 6/10

Fantastic Four World’s Greatest Heroes Review

Looks like it’s time to review one of the Marvel cartoons that fell under the radar. The Fantastic Four have had several shows, but they’ve never had the same amount of success as the Avengers or the X Men. I’ve seen episodes from two of the other series, but this is the first one where I got to watch the whole series from start to finish. It’s a decent show, but it makes many mistakes, which keeps it from being known as one of the better cartoons. You can certainly see why it was cancelled, but it’s still a good title to check out.

There aren’t any large story arcs in the show. There are plots that continue like villains who go in and out of jail and Dr Doom’s never ending plans to destroy the Fantastic Four once and for all, but nothing to really talk about in the plot selection. A lot of episodes are stand alone fights with the various villains. We also have the Kree subplot as they start to get pretty fed up with the group of heroes. The Fantastic Four antagonize just about everyone that they meet so they have a lot of enemies. Naturally, Dr Doom is at the top of the list.

There are 26 episodes, which is a decent episode count for a series. It’s not a whole lot when you compare it to the other Fantastic Four shows, but cracking the 20 episode barrier is always something to be proud of. That being said, the show was just not as high quality as we have come to expect back in the time that it aired. One of the main problems is actually the animation.

It’s some of the worst animation that I have ever seen for a superhero cartoon. We can make the case that the CGI Spiderman series looked worse, but it was CGI so that’s to be expected. The character designs here are just pretty off putting and the colors can get very chaotic. The show loves to make everything look red or green or blue depending on how the animators are feeling that day. It’s not very pleasing to the eyes and they just seem to be having too much fun trying to make the show unique. Focusing on the fight scenes would have been a better way to have kept the series afloat. I could not get used to this animation no matter how many episodes I saw.

The soundtrack is certainly better, but it’s still not very good. There’s one classic theme that plays whenever they are about to fight and it’s a pretty decent theme for the Fantastic Four. The problem is that the soundtrack is very limited so you’ll be hearing the same theme in just about every episode and typically more than once. It’s a good theme, but (almost) any theme will get old after a number of times. We need variety!

Those two factors hurt the show, but what hurt it even more is the overall cast. The Fantastic Four are known to argue and fight a whole lot, but they take it to a whole new level here. They are constantly talking and there is never a quiet scene in the entire show. Human Torch is like a music box that you just can’t close and he’s always on screen. The others love to contribute as well and the villains play their part. It wouldn’t be a problem if the lines were good, but that’s rarely the case. I’d definitely compare it to Avengers Assemble since just about every line here is supposed to be witty and make you smile. The scary part is that Avengers Assemble actually does a better job with this, but it could just be that I like the characters a little more there. Let’s look at the characters in more detail.

Mr Fantastic is easily the best character in the show. It’s not even close and I also liked the voice that was chosen for him. He really sounds like he’s full of himself and that’s the Reed Richards that I know. He’s always got a plan at the ready and he doesn’t back down. I’ve never seen an incarnation of Mr Fantastic that I did not like and I’m glad to see that this hasn’t changed so far. His powers still aren’t great for combat, but he definitely has his moments.

The Invisible Woman is not bad, but she definitely gives Mr Fantastic a lot of grief during the series. She blames him for the Human Torch’s disappearance at one point, which was fairly unreasonable. One thing that helps to counter this is that she’s easily the strongest member of the team. When she uses her powers effectively, there are few fighters who can really stop her and almost none of those are main FF characters. She runs the business side of the Baxter Building so she tends to talk to the various inhabitants a little more than the others. This means that she has to keep up a pleasant facade from time to time, but the other members know that she is always ready to fight. Sue Storm is probably the only member who can talk back to one of their meaner neighbors.

I’m definitely not a huge Thing fan and he doesn’t do himself any favors here. He’s a pretty nice guy as he just wants to watch his ball games in peace. Unfortunately, the Human Torch will never let that happen so they get into constant arguments. His side plot with Alisha can also drag on a lot since it never goes anywhere. I think there’s no real excuse for the heroes not to cure her blindness and she should also move somewhere that’s a little safer from the Puppet Master. Alisha’s not a bad character, but she’s always been one of my least favorite heroines. She simply doesn’t have a whole lot of character and she naturally doesn’t get any fight scenes. The Thing is the power hitter of the Fantastic Four, but you’d be surprised at how often he still manages to lose fights. The Mole Men’s minions are able to take him down and that was during a rage moment. This certainly isn’t Ben Grimm’s best collection of moments, but the show did adapt his character pretty faithfully. I’ll give the writers some props there.

The Human Torch is unfortunately the most annoying character of the group. For every good line that he has, he’ll have 10 wince worthy ones. The reason for this is the fact that he never stops talking. He continue going on and on until he’s knocked out by a villain. It’s nice to see his confidence and he does pretty well during some of the events, but this version of Johnny Storm is just a little too exaggerated. Naturally, he is given a rather high pitched voice to make him look even worse when he is knocked out. His fire abilities are definitely useful and I would argue that he could defeat the Thing, but there are also a lot of ways around his fire that make him a risky ally to have. He’s typically fun to watch, but he goes overboard way too often to be a really likable character this time.

The Skrulls naturally get to appear and the writers must have really disliked them. They are shown to have little to no actual intelligence. They are very obvious in their attempts to gather intel on the Fantastic Four and they are brushed aside rather easily once the fighting begins. They have never been the toughest of enemies, but they are typically intelligence. They are masters of espionage after all so they wouldn’t make the rookie mistakes that they exhibit in their appearances. It was a pretty good episode though, but their portrayal should have been a little better.

Namor makes a quick appearance in the show and naturally he is rivals with Mr Fantastic. They are constantly getting into arguments and trying to one up the other. Namor is not as bad as you would expect since he is typically a very unlikable character for me. He still shows some of those traits, but the focus is more on him being a leader than on his other qualities. That helps him a lot and he makes for a good guest star. It’s unfortunate for him that he has to ask the surface dwellers for assistance, but the Fantastic Four are always happy to oblige. I was more than satisfied with his portrayal.
Hulk looks pretty good here in his beast form and as Bruce Banner. It’s sad for Bruce since he’s always so close to getting a cure until things just don’t go his way. Considering how smart Reed is, you’d assume that he’d be able to cure him easily. The Hulk’s design isn’t very good, but he definitely looks tough. It’s safe to say that the Thing was completely outmatched in their skirmish and that’s how all of their fights should end up. Bruce Banner gets the short end of the stick as per usual, but his personality was pretty good and he was a likable guest star.

Ronan appears a few times and he has actually defected from the Kree this time. In the comics, that is pretty rare although I don’t necessarily mind the change. It means that he is now free to do as he pleases and he naturally challenges the Fantastic Four. His skill with his hammer is formidable and he has a nice fight against the Human Torch. I’ve never found him to be an incredibly powerful fighter, but against the Fantastic Four I would definitely give him some decent odds in a fight. He’s around the Thing’s level in strength here, if not a little weaker. He gave us one of the better episodes here in the form of a sort of Olympics competition against the Fantastic Four, which was pretty cool. He was definitely one of the better villains in the series.

The Mole Man is probably my least favorite villain in the series. He can’t fight and his design is pretty hard to look at. None of his plans should have any reasonable chance to succeed considering how weak his forces are. Unfortunately, he is one of the more popular Fantastic Four villains so he gets to appear several times. You end up feeling bad for his minions since they’ll never get to see the sun. He has to rely on his wit and cunning to win his fights since his staff can only get him so far. It’s always wince worthy to see him defeat the Fantastic Four.

The Impossible Man is one of those characters that I never like. His reality warping abilities are something that I never want to see in a show so a character whose whole gimmick is related to that is naturally not my kind of character. He mostly just comes to troll the heroes until they trick him into leaving. His episodes are typically more annoying than entertaining. Ant Man made a surprise guest star appearance in this show considering that he typically doesn’t get to be a guest star anywhere. His portrayal was pretty good and he definitely seems to know what he’s doing. There’s not all that much to say about him, but it would be nice to see him fight someday. Fighting minions doesn’t really count, he needs to take on a super villain!

Ironman gets to appear, which is pretty cool. Tony Stark’s portrayal is pretty great since he acts pretty fearless even as the Fantastic Four begin to threaten him. As Iron Man, he definitely proves to be an impressive fighter as you would expect. His armor does get hacked once again, but it is by Dr Doom so it’s pretty excusable. I liked the armor design here, which is a plus and he was definitely one of (if not) the best guest stars on the show. It’s too bad that he didn’t get to return since that would have been pretty cool.

The Super Skrull naturally gets to appear, which is good since he’s a very iconic Fantastic Four villain. I always liked the idea of a guy who had all of their individual abilities and he does not disappoint. He puts up a pretty decent fight and what he makes up for in personality, he makes up for in attitude. He’s never been a very deep character anyway so I hadn’t been expecting all that much. Still, he was a pretty cool villain thanks to his battles and appearance.
The Puppet Master is similar to the Mole Man in that he can’t really fight. He actually has a very overpowered ability, which enables him to control anyone that he has made a statue out of. Techncially, nobody can really counter such a technique so he cannot lose. Plot hax ensues and they get out of his plot, but it’s one of those cases where the writers just made him a little too good. That happens sometimes I suppose, but it’s why you’ve always got to be careful. Even with that ability, he’s just not likable. He’s a really old guy who’s out for vengeance…not a very original story.

She Hulk gets a guest star role and she shows why she is about as strong as the Thing. She is mainly here to remind us why the Thing is so important to the team, but she’s still pretty likable. She was always a pretty good replacement member on the team and she doesn’t rub it in. She’s a team player, but she’s naturally here for the money. It would have been cool for her to have had a real fight with the Thing, but maybe next time. I was just glad to have another guest star.

Terminus is the final villain in the series and it was an interesting decision to end with him. He’s incredibly powerful, but also incredibly slow, which helps to even it out. The heroes quickly despair when they see him until they remember that Reed will think of a plan. So, all of the pressure rests on Reed and it’s thanks to his quick thinking that the heroes survive. Terminus is pretty gullible and I can’t say that I like him, but I do like the idea of a giant mech running around New York. He makes for a good villain.

The Frightful Four appear as a foil to the Fantastic Four. They pretend to be heroes for a while, but we naturally don’t buy that for long. It’s one of the better episodes as they try to humiliate the Fantastic Four on TV until they eventually begin to fight. Mr Fantastic really lets loose and he gets a pretty epic line to end the episode. The members of the Frightful Four are decent. The Wizard is pretty smart after all, but they are rather simple villains. They’re around, but they aren’t on screen long enough to become likable. They make for good villains and that’s about all that you can say for them.

Diablo is a one shot character, but it’s cool to see him try to convince everyone that magic is real. He’s a villain who is hard to take seriously since his powers don’t have many offensive capabilities, but he really tries and that’s the important thing. He definitely isn’t a very interesting villain, but he only appeared once so it wasn’t a real problem. Annihilius is more interesting and I’m not even a fan of the guy. Annihilius also gets to appear in one of the episodes and things aren’t going well for him when his weapon is stolen. Let’s just say that a team up may be in order unless he can snatch the scepter back on his own. He’s not mindless per say, but he’s not one of the Fantastic Four’s more intelligent villains either. He’s a monster who will defend his territory and I guess that will have to be good enough for us. On the bright side, his design is pretty good.

Ultimately, the show definitely had some fun guest stars. It also had some pretty fun episodes like the olympic games and the one with the Frightful Four. From the 26 episodes, I’m sure that at least half of them are pretty good. There were just other episodes that were not so good and ones that were only decent. The problem is that some episodes can toe the line where they almost feel a little boring. It’s partially thanks to the intros as a lot of the episodes begin rather similarly with the Human Torch and Thing fighting. It can just be hard to really get into the feel of the episode, which hurts its chances. The series definitely has no real replay value since you will never care to watch it again. Other big shows like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Justice League don’t have that problem since you really want to watch them again. That’s probably due to the fact that this show has no good fights. It’s just the way that it was made, but you never feel the blows here. The lack of a plot only serves to amplify this and your first time around will likely be your last.

As far as Marvel cartoons go, this one still does beat Hulk Agents of Smash though so that’s a consolation win. It’s still not a bad show either since I would have given it a quick 4 in that case. It has its pros and cons and they basically cancel out in the long run. Watching an episode shouldn’t be considered as 20 minutes wasted, but it won’t leave you as fulfilled as other shows. Compared to most western shows at the moment, this would probably seem like an all star in comparison. Compared to most Marvel tunes, then it definitely seems to be under average.

Overall, The Fantastic Four were never the World’s Greatest Heroes so the title may have already started firing off some warning bells. The characters can be pretty annoying and it’s really hard to get invested into some of the episodes. They just aren’t very entertaining and the sub par animation does not help its case. That being said, we still do get a lot of fight scenes and we have a decent amount of guest stars. Some episodes are certainly better than others and at its best, the show can still be good. It’s just not very consistent and you are always playing with fire here. I recommend checking this show out if you’ve always wanted to see a new Fantastic Four cartoon, but otherwise I recommend watching the classic 90’s series instead. It’s a more accurate representation of the team and the comics that spawned them. On the bright side, you’ll get to see the Hulk duke it out with the Thing in this show!

Overall 5/10