Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Random Reviews: Fantastic Four #111 "The Thing Runs Amok!"

In 1970 after an amazing 101 issue run on the Fantastic Four, Jack Kirby left Marvel for what he hoped would be greener pastures at DC, leaving responsibilities for the Fantastic Four (among other titles) to other talents at Marvel. Suffice it to say, this couldn't have been an easy task. Lee and Kirby (Or Kirby and Lee -- depending on the courts) gave us a stable of immortal characters -- Dr. Doom, Galactus, the Skrulls, the Silver Surfer -- not to mention the namesake team itself. Responsibilities for the FF were handed over to Steve Romita, and after a brief seven issue run, it ended up on the table of the late, great John Buscema.

And this brings us to my review of Fantastic Four #111 (June 1971). It was Buscema’s third in the run and I think you’ll enjoy it. The art is noticeably different, with Buscema’s Bronze Age pencils gently pushing the FF away from Kirby’s Silver Age magic. But that's not a problem -- it still maintains the fantastical and nostalgic element that characterizes early Bronze ages comics. The story involves The Thing running amok with the fault lying squarely in the lap of another Reed Richards experiment gone awry.

But the plot isn't the strength of this issue -- it's the cameos. They are BIG. Most obviously, the Hulk at the end, who decides to fight the Thing leading to the classic cover of #112. Here is the last page:

But there’s also these guys:

Yes, that's Peter Parker! Not Spider-Man, in some cover-killing “With a Special Guest Star!” but the photographer and his nasty editor. I’ve long been a sceptic when it comes to gratuitous cover-making cameos. You know, the type that adorn the cover of a dying title like ROM or Darkhawk; 5 to 7 issues away from cancellation? But here, it really works! It integrates Peter and the Daily Bugle into the story and gives us what we've always loved about Marvel -- multi-hero interaction!

Other interesting items of note include an advertisement featuring a very young Arnold Schwarznegger using his Mr. Universe bona fides to sell something. Also, in the Mighty Marvel Checklist there’s further evidence of the X-Men’s decline, before their triumphant return and ultimate apotheosis in the early 1990s. I know I’ve mentioned this item on WGTB before, but I’ll always find the early 70s decline of the X-Men interesting.

So that is it. Enjoy FF#111 if you can find it -- it's another fun, early-Bronze Age read. Oh, and here's a link to some Thor movie photos if you're interested. I just saw them on Twitter this evening.


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  2. I love the Mr Universe/Marvel checklist chat - A genuinely interesting aspect of comic collecting that you miss out on when reading collected editions. Makes me want a SNES/Amiga/x-ray specs all over again.