I’m going to start a new theme that I’ll take up from time to time where I read or watch something episodic and write about each part in order. The first series will be on the three trade paperbacks I picked up on the cheap at this past weekend’s Boston Comic Con, Fantastic Four: Rising Storm, Volume 1 of Brian Michael Bendis’ Pulse series, and Black Panther: The Client, the first volume of the landmark Christopher Priest run. I got all three of these trades for $15, which is a pretty damned good deal. I just recently cracked open the first issue of the Fantastic Four trade, and here are some thoughts.
Fantastic Four #520 – Part One of Rising Storm
Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Mike Wieringo
Inks: Karl Kesel
I’ve never read any of the Waid/Ringo run of Fantastic Four. I’ve heard a lot of good about it, and I’d seen quite a lot of the dearly departed Ringo’s FF art on VS System cards from the Marvel Legends set, and it’s got that perfect mix of cartoony elements (which is really essential when you’re working with characters like The Thing and Mr. Fantastic) and some realism to keep things grounded. This story was bought for one simple reason: GALACTUS. I am a Galactus fanboy. An extreme one, at that. When I went to Boston Comic Con, my plan was to make it a trip that would get me as many cheap Galactus related comic books as possible. And I think I did that. This trade, the first two issues of the Galactus: The Devourer miniseries, an issue of Fantastic Four from the Abraxas saga, a random assortment of Secret Wars and Infinity War issues. All fun cosmicky goodness. When I saw Rising Storm in the buy one get two free boxes and saw the picture of Johnny Storm, herald of Galactus on the back, I knew I had to find two more books to make it worth its while. The issue begins with the story already underway. It becomes clear quickly that at some point recently, Sue and Johnny had their powers switched by Reed Richards so Sue became the Human Torch and Johnny became the Invisible Man. Apparently because of this, Galactus has since taken Johnny to be his newest herald.
This is very much the first issue of a story arc, but not in a bad way. Sue and Johnny are shown trying to cope with their new powers, Johnny is trying to cope with dealing with Galactus, and the Fantastic Four is trying to cope with the disappearance of Johnny. There are two flashbacks during the issue that look at Sue and Ben’s fonder memories of Johnny. Both are done in a different art style (the drawing of Thing’s face in Ben’s flashback is nothing short of incredible), and they’re wonderful little slices of life that ground these characters in a real and touching way. I can say that Johnny is at times written a little too much like a punk, but that is definitely a part of his character. I think Waid overplays it slightly, especially in the scene where he confronts Galactus about the lack of a bathroom on the Worldship. That was a little on the nose.
I must say that the climactic fight between Johnny Storm and Karragan is a perfect meld of writer and artist. The point to get across is simple and clear: Johnny does not fully comprehend the power that Galactus has given him in making him a herald. Ringo perfectly captures this in the way he dispatches his foe, and the aftermath is played for laughs with an undercurrent that Johnny is in a very dangerous situation that could lead to bad things quickly if he loses control. Meanwhile, the rest of the FF with the help of Quasar is in hot pursuit. It’s about as good as a first issue as you could ask for. The storytelling is clear and concise, the art is gorgeous and strongly reinforces the story, and the characters act like they should. I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of this trade.
This post was written to the tune of Genesis’ Archive Volume 1: 1967-1975