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Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Unmitigated Radness of Walt Simonson's Fantastic Four

Last night, I mentioned that I didn't quite get everything done that I wanted to during my break from the ISB, but one of the things I did manage do was finally finish reading a run I've been working on for almost a year: Walt Simonson's Fantastic Four.

It is, in a word, awesome.

With less than twenty issues--and the occasional Danny Fingeroth or Len Kaminski fill-in--it's significantly shorter than Simonson's classic run on Thor (or as we know it around here, the pinnacle of comic book achievement), but what it lacks in length it makes up for in sheer over-the-top fun.

The whole shebang kicks off during Acts of Vengeance, but since every halfway decent Marvel villain was busy getting beaten to death with a stick by Daredevil or something, Reed and company get stuck with what you could charitably call the "lesser" strata of villainy. And honestly, the Beetle and the Shocker might give Spider-Man a good fight every now and then, but when you've got a standing Tuesday afternoon appointment to keep Annihilus from destroying the galaxy, they're not much more than a speed bump on the way to breakfast.

It's great.

And as a special bonus, the whole thing takes place during a congressional hearing where Reed Richards testifies against the formation of a National Super-Hero Registration Act. So there's that.

Anyway, once that's all taken care of, things pretty much go back to normal. And by "normal," I mean that the FF utilize Reed's Radical Dodecahedron (last seen 286 issues before as the Radical Cube) to travel through time to stop the universe from being destroyed twenty years in the future, which involves hopping on a rocket sled and, in one of the most unbelieveably face-rocking moments in Marvel history, hooking Thor's hammer up to Iron Man's armor and blasting their way out of a Black Hole created by a mind-controlled Galactus. And really, that's what Marvel comics are all about.

At this point, you may well be asking yourself just who could possibly put a hoodoo on Galactus so powerful that his ever-present hunger drives him to eat the universe. The answer, of course, is this guy:



THE BLACK CELESTIAL!


Because apparently, "The Evil Blue and Gold Celestial" was already taken. Anyway, there's pretty much only one way to deal with a problem like that in the world of Walt Simonson comics, and it all pretty much boils down to this:



And that's only halfway through the run.

So how does Simonson follow up a battle with the Black Celestial and a hunger-mad Galactus with the fate of the entire universe hanging in the balance?

Prepare yourself for intense freaking out, and don't say I didn't warn you:

They go to an alternate universe where President Dan Quayle is about to unleash nuclear war on a Soviet Union led by an immortal thirty-foot tall genocidal half-robot Josef Stalin manufactured by the Disney Corporation.



Yeah.

And after that? Dinosaurs. And after that? Walt Simonson scripts and Art Adams draws as the New Fantastic Four--Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Hulk, and Ghost Rider--take on monsters, the Mole Man, and a shipload of Skrulls in a story that not only parodies sales-pumping guest stars, but redefines the term "all-out action."

Trust me: If you've been living without them, you haven't really been living.




BONUS FEATURE: Another ISB "Say This At Work On Monday" Challenge!

"Welcome to the Soviet Union, Mr. Fantastic! As the most dangerous, you shall be the first to die!"


Bonus points if you say it to your boss.

21 Comments:

Anonymous Daniel Fernandez said...

"They go to an alternate universe where President Dan Quayle is about to unleash nuclear war on a Soviet Union led by an immortal thirty-foot tall genocidal half-robot Josef Stalin manufactured by the Disney Corporation."

Dear God. What the Hell?

8/20/2006 5:47 AM

 
Blogger Philip Looney said...

That issue of FF where they fight robot Stalin was the first issue of FF I ever bought and read. It did not make a whole lot of sense on it's own, and I remember not knowing what to make of it, but I liked it when Ben Grimm put on his Thing suit and punched the robot.

8/20/2006 7:08 AM

 
Blogger Steven said...

"Say This At Work On Monday" Challenge!

Sorry Chris, this Monday is reserved for shouting "YES! I have one hundred of the Earth dollars!" after visiting the cash machine.

Maybe next Monday.

8/20/2006 10:06 AM

 
Blogger Kanto_Gamer said...

Lol the thing i noticed that iliked most is Walt Simonson's overacting sound effects.. but the disney corporation robot? dang!!!

8/20/2006 10:28 AM

 
Blogger Mark Hale said...

These really should be cleaned up and put into a nice hardcover.

You already know my other opinions on this run.

8/20/2006 11:32 AM

 
Blogger Chris Sims said...

"I liked it when Ben Grimm put on his Thing suit and punched the robot."

That's pretty much the basis of our friendship, Phil.

8/20/2006 12:46 PM

 
Blogger Brandon said...

That's why I got fired from Taco Bell back in high school.

8/20/2006 1:51 PM

 
Blogger Senor Cheeseburger said...

I have the issue where Reed hooks up Thors hammer.

It's racist.

8/20/2006 5:05 PM

 
Anonymous Adrian said...

In Soviet Russia, robot thkrhrhaam you!

8/20/2006 8:45 PM

 
Anonymous Moose N Squirrel said...

I, too, was first introduced to the FF via their battle with Alternate Universe Robot Stalin, and was hooked for life. Or at least until Tom Defalco.

Has Simonson's run been collected? Because it rocks.

8/20/2006 10:30 PM

 
Blogger Chris Sims said...

As far as I know, there was only one trade of the Simonson run, collecting the three issues of the "New Fantastic Four" storyline.

Because, y'know, that's got Wolverine in it.

8/20/2006 10:58 PM

 
Blogger Winterteeth said...

Was this the run with the awesome time fight issue? I thought it was during Simonson's tenure but I could be wrong. For those who don't know Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Doom battle through time so the issue can be read two ways, straight through or by following a little clock in the corner of the page. Am I misremembering?

8/21/2006 12:19 AM

 
Blogger Chris Sims said...

Yep, that's #352, right near the end of Walt's run.

8/21/2006 12:28 AM

 
Anonymous Joel said...

From which issue to which issue do the Simonson story run? These look like they're worth picking up.

8/21/2006 1:32 AM

 
Blogger Bill Reed said...

I picked almost all of this run up in quarter bins this summer. Still missing three issues (grr).

The one where they fight Robo-Stalin is probably the raddest comic of all times.

And no one writes a sound effect better than "Uncle Walt" Simonson.

8/21/2006 1:39 AM

 
Anonymous jon b said...

"They go to an alternate universe where President Dan Quayle is about to unleash nuclear war on a Soviet Union led by an immortal thirty-foot tall genocidal half-robot Josef Stalin manufactured by the Disney Corporation."

That is re-goddamn-diculous. And by that, I mean the AWESOMEST THING EVER.

Also: Mole Man wins at life.

8/21/2006 5:47 AM

 
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

Another thing- Simonson drew the HELL out of that book. He stormed the art like Frank Rock storms a hill. The fight between Richards and DOOOM! GENIUS.

8/21/2006 10:41 AM

 
Blogger Eric said...

This is probably the least original comment I have ever made, but after that last panel, I am now officially Freaking Out(tm). Because seriously? Damn.

8/21/2006 1:14 PM

 
Anonymous JIM said...

"They go to an alternate universe where President Dan Quayle is about to unleash nuclear war on a Soviet Union led by an immortal thirty-foot tall genocidal half-robot Josef Stalin manufactured by the Disney Corporation."

Seriously, though, if you think about it - really think about it - how is that any different from the world right now?

8/21/2006 2:36 PM

 
Blogger Chris Sims said...

There's a robot.

But yeah, that's pretty much it.

8/22/2006 12:53 AM

 
Blogger Harvey Jerkwater said...

The climactic Doom-Richards Time Duel was the biggety-bomb, yo. It freaked my ass out. Plus, for once I was impressed with Mr. Fantastic and could see why Doom regarded him with such respect and fear. It was schweeeeet.

For those who haven't read it, Doom and Richards don time-travel belts that allow them to jump forwards or backwards in time only thirty minutes, and use them to whomp the hell out of each other.

The radness of this concept comes in two pieces:

1. As readers, we see it in regular chronology, not as D&R see it. So it looks totally insane from our perspective. But if you go back and follow the "time stamps" given next to each image of D&R, the whole thing tracks. This is beyond rad.

2. The cover of the issue shows Mr. Fantastic escaping an explosion, with a weird little time stamp in the corner of the picture. At the end of the issue, we find out that the cover is part of the story. Moreover, it's vital to the story.

Recalling the coolness of the Time Duel leaves me exhausted. I must sit down now, for I suffer from the vapors.

Simonson is the king.

8/22/2006 10:18 AM

 

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