The Fantastic Four has been around a long time.
Marvel's first family is one of the super-staples of comic books, and even recently made it to the big screen in a pretty good, if dumbed-down, feature with a sequel coming soon.
And with "Civil War" raging throughout the Marvel universe, the company has introduced two very interesting takes on the famous foursome in the past few months.
The first, now more than halfway through its five-issue run, is "1602: Fantastick Four;" a look at Reed Richards, Susan and John Storm and Benjamin Grimm if they were superheroes in England during the time of James I.
It's definitely one of the more original ideas to come out of a reimagining, that's for sure.
The Four have been introduced to their powers during a strange phenomenon while on their ship, The Fantastick, and are on a mission to thwart Count Otto Von Doom, who has kidnapped Shakespeare.
Yes, that's where it gets pretty cheesy. Especially since Grimm was in Shakespeare's acting troupe. But let's forgive the plot for a minute and re-concentrate on the theme. It's incredibly fun to see these characters as they would have been 400 years ago.
Writer Peter David captures the dialogue of the times, and artists Khoi Pham and Pascal Alixe give a very classical look to the pages.
Unfortunately, some of the choices this team makes along the way are a bit distracting. First, Johnny isn't a philanderer, as per usual in the Fantastic Four titles, but is hopelessly in love with an engaged woman and kidnaps her on the day of her wedding.
Second, Sue is pregnant with Reed's child, and you have to see her run around invisible, except the child inside her is visible. Yeah, that's right. And it's as disturbing as it sounds.
But the biggest weakness is when the action slows. The book kind of stalls and gets, well, pretty dull.
But for all its faults, "1602: Fantastick Four" is interesting enough to pick up just because of the unique take on the super family.
The other of Marvel's new Fantastic Four titles is "Fantastic Four: The End." Like "X-Men: The End," a highly successful series from Marvel that spanned three story arcs, this one sees our favorite fam in the future.
But be warned, it's pretty dark right off the bat. Reed and Sue's children are killed in the final, big battle with Doom, and now Reed is secluded on his space station. Earth is a crimeless utopia, so Johnny seeks work with the Avengers on the edge of space fighting insurgents.
Meanwhile, Ben and his wife live as royalty on Mars.
Through two issues, writer Alan Davis has kept the book moving along quite well, even if it is convoluted at times. You get to learn a lot about the future of the Marvel universe in this title, but it seems more "Avengers: The End" a lot when the story moves away from the Fantastic Four. It's like Davis is having a lot more fun writing the future of Thor, the Silver Surfer, Iron Man and the Human Torch than Reed, Sue or Ben.
The story suffers some from this, but it's still a good book. Plus, it's only two issues into the run, so I have faith the holes will continue to be filled, even if there isn't a definite plot to grab onto yet.
For Fantastic Four fans, both titles give you plenty to think about. Both are kind of "what-if" scenarios, giving readers a fun little look into the first family of comics.
If you had to choose one, I'd probably go with "1602," just because it's so out of the box. There's more action, and more of what Fantastic Four fans love in "The End," but you just can't beat superheroes at the tail end of the Renaissance.
Next week: Going into the future again, this time with the Star Wars universe in "Star Wars: Legacy."
The Fantastic Four has been around a long time.
This Week's Circulars
Major F. 'Red' Morrow, 92, of Norman, died June 15, 2021. Graveside Service: 2:00pm, Friday, June 18th, Resthaven Memory Gardens, 500 SW 104th Street, Oklahoma City. The family requests masks be worn at the graveside service. Share condolences online: www.havenbrookfuneralhome.com.
Shepherd, Dr. Colonel Virgil
Dr. William D. "Bill" Anderson, Jr., 93, of Joplin, Missouri, formerly of Norman, died June 15, 2021. Graveside service: 11:00 a.m. Friday, June 18th, Clinton City Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Thornhill-Dillon Mortuary, Joplin, Missouri.
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