Book Information:Cover Date: Feb 2012
- Ben Grimm: The Thing
- Dr. Doom
- Dr. Elder: Mole Man
- Dr. Reed Richards: Mr. Fantastic
- Johnny Storm: The Human Torch
- Susan Storm: Invisible Girl / Woman
- The Fantastic Four
For today’s comic book review I am braking from my trend of working up though the classics to cover one that was released recently, even if it is a retelling of stories I already read and reviewed. Today I read the Graphic Novel Fantastic Four: Season one
but with sitting down to read and review the first such retelling for Marvels ongoing Season one releases, I have decided I was going to approach it a bit differently then I do the classics that where completely new and original when they where released. If you want to read more about Marvel Season One, here is a link to information from Marvel itself.
As you can see from the articles on marvel.com as well as the various other words published on the release of these books, these are being marked as “In-Continuity” modernization’s to be a great launching point for new readers as well as have value for long time fans.
This seems like a big undertaking, so in reviewing these, I have to go at it realizing that these stories are not simple reprints or artwork updates to the classics, while it represents some segment of the early essential stories, they are not the same, the events, technology, language, and reasons will be more modern for today’s readers; In an almost like it is happening now. But instead of a reboot or relaunch, these are designed to give new readers a bit of depth while continuing the current continuity.
to make it more simple, this is being marked as a great place for new readers to start, while to give value to the long time fan’s who know these classic stories by heart. Thus the value added, and the usefulness to new readers as a launching point are key to my rankings.
As such, I will be reviewing these based on Story & Artwork as away’s, these two things are as key to comics as anything, but then based on how I feel it fits In with the continuity of the issues it was based on. Following that I wish to take a look at the depth to the character’s that is allowed now, as it would not have been possible in the sixty’s. I will also look into the value I feel this adds for long time fan’s and the usefulness to new readers looking for a bit of background and a place to start.
I felt that the story, as a retelling, and newer version was quite well written, offering much of what I feel I was promised. The story seems to flow naturally, and offer compelling and interesting dialog as we go.
One of the strong aspects of the story I feel is the time they allow themselves, The first nine pages all take place before they are the Fantastic Four. Giving us two full pages each as to the events and thoughts of the day before the accident.
The story also shows how it was modernized with both the reasons for going to space being updated, today’s readers likely would not understand the idea of the space race. But also the way Ben Grimm is convinced to go, making it more out of the loyalty he shown though the years and less about the pressure.
The Mole man story, is perhaps more true to the orignal cover of Fantastic Four #1 then the story, with the events taking place in New York as opposed to Monster Isle.
Also a key part of both Fantastic Four #1, and #4 ended up being the nuclear age, in the form of power plants and weapons. This volume does not follow that take at all, suggesting perhaps that the modern reader would find less meaning and threat then the 60’s reader would, or perhaps leaning to different modern sensibilities.
Such changes were expected, and I do feel that the story does flow around all this quite well.
Overall I felt that the artwork was done quite well, the characters had reach depth to Their appearance and personality by the way they are shown artistically. The story seems to flow even with small changes in this at times, letting us see and feel the characters quite well.
The action was also well done, showcasing each of the Fantastic Fours abilities quite well from Sues Shields , to Mr Fantastic elastic nature.
What I never quite found myself growing used to was the way many of the outdoor backgrounds were done. I am not sure if it was to make it look more realistic or to be a nod to Jack Kirby’s photo collages, or it was just the artist taste, but it never did quite feel right.
the outdoor backgrounds, Mainly over the ocean and in the woods, being my biggest complaints, beyond that I felt the issue was done quite well artistically.
I should start by saying that Fantastic Four: Season One is based mostly on content from Fantastic Four #1 & Fantastic Four #4. While these stories have been changed and updated, I do feel that the new version is true to the originals.
One of the biggest changes, that I felt was a strong point the originals had that was lost here, was how quickly the Namor, Sue Storm romance was shot down, having it addressed and only played a short bit, but seeming to show no sig of the lasting ongoing interest that occurred in the 60’s.
But over all, I Feel that the changes where acceptable to remain true to the original source issues, and the comic as a whole afterwords.
Fantastic Four 2 & 3
These issues, as well as reference to the Skrull’s from the second issue and the much less influential Miracle Man from Fantastic Four #3 is missing. Miracle Man’s absence is not all that surprising or concerning to me, but given the role the Skrull’s would play for the Fantastic Four and more so Marvel universe, to have this skipped is more than a little shocking.
there does seem to be a bit of room for the events of those issues to have still happened, without them being discussed in length.
To summarize the continuity
This version, or perhaps retcon is quite different from the original when taken as a whole and compared to the continuity presented in the first four issues, however I do feel that this version is just as true to the Fantastic Four in the long run, and still offers us a bit into how they would have been thinking.
The depth of character is the strongest thing Fantastic Four: Season One has going for it. Sue Storm in particularly I felt got the character attention that she never got in those early issues.
the story as presented not only lets us see the hero’s but the people, how they think, and even who they are, more then that, who they where before they became the Fantastic Four, and offers us a deep look at just how they became the iconic team.
it is in the character depth that I feel the greatest value is added for the long time reader, in particularly someone who has taken the time to read those early issues, as I have. While marvel was well ahead of the curve on offering deep and compelling characters then, they just did not have the ability to do then what could be done today.
For a new, and casual reader. whom does not have the time to read 50 years of Fantastic Four history (I would imagine almost everyone) , this is a great place to start. while not identical, the story’s here are true to the originals, and would give the reader an idea on the origin of the Fantastic Four, not only in their powers, but more importantly, what lead them to become a team!