Friday, November 16, 2007

Electrical Problems! (Marvel comics)
Spider-man Family #3 When: August 2007
Why: Paul Tobin How: Pierre Alary

The story so far...
Bombarded by cosmic rays, the quartet of Reed Richards, Susan Storm, her brother Johnny, and test-pilot Ben Grimm are transformed in bizarre ways to become Marvel's first family -- the Fantastic Four!

The idols of millions, the FF would expand their membership over the years to include many allies, but alas, it never quite worked out for Spider-man, who early in his career attempted to join the team -- a point of lasting ridicule for the Johnny Storm, the Human Torch.

Co-existing on the same turf, Spidey just happens to be swinging through downtown as the team struggle to combat the giant-sized menace of Gomdulla, the living mummy monolith! Can Spidey provide the valuable assist, or are things destined to take yet another sour turn for the well meaning wall-crawler?

Previous Form:
Fantastic Four [#2]: Team wins over Frightful Four, Paibok, & Dr. Doom.
Spider-man (#1): Successful team-ups against Trapster, Wizard, Carnage, & the Sinister Twelve.
Gomdulla: Making his lumbering debut in the Infinite Wars.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Thing 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Mr. Fantastic 6 (Genius)
Speed: Human Torch 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Gomdulla 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Mr. Fantastic 6 (Rubber)
Fighting Ability: Invisible Woman 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: Human Torch 7 (Solar Power)

- The Fantastic Four are: Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and the Thing.

The original Fantastic Four were exposed to cosmic rays when Reed Richards led the team in a race to beat the Russians to space. Without sufficient preperation time, the shuttle lacked the shielding needed to filter the cosmic radiation, resulting in unique transformations in each member.

Reed Richards, already a potent force given his genius for invention, exploration and theory, gained the ability to stretch and contort his body with limited restriction.

Sue Storm is able to manipulate invisible forcefields to create a variety of objects, typically bubbles, platforms and shields. She is also able to cast a veil of invisibility over herself, others, or objects, and do so in a variety of creative ways.

Johnny Storm is the Human Torch, literally capable of englufing his body in flame. This fire can be projected, reach extreme temperatures, result in blinding light, and produce a wave of heat sufficient to propel his body through the air.

Ben Grimm, better known to the world as the ever lovin' blue-eyed Thing is a rocky bruiser of incredible size, strength and durability. The power of his fists is dwarfed only by the power of his heart, which refuses to quit, even in the face of the greatest adversary.

- Gomdulla is a rampaging giant alien mummy from space, whose origins are largely a mystery. Though the means are unknown, Gomdulla is capable of limited telekinesis, levitation, and possesses super human strength largely due to his gargantuan size.

The Math: Fantastic Four The Pick: Fantastic Four

What went down...
We join the Fantastic Four in the steets of Manhattan, combatting the ancient rampaging mummy-monolith: Gomdulla! Mr. Fantastic wraps around the monster's body, while Human Torch and Invisible Woman (in the Fantasticar) hover around the building-climbing giant.

While Mr. Fantastic coils further around Gomdulla's head, the impulsive Human Torch floats in with the intentions of setting Gomdulla alight. Invisible Woman directs him away from "... a rampaging sixty-foot-tall mummy on fire." to instead use his flame powers to blind him with a flare.

Reed Richards unravels as Invisible Woman orders him to Gomdulla's feet, to use his stretching powers to bind the giant's movement.

So busy orchestrating is Invisible Woman that she leaves herself exposed to Gomdulla's lumbering attack. He swats at the Fantasticar with a giant bandaged hand, pushing an impromptu forcefield to it's limit. Foregoing the concern of igniting the beast, Human Torch comes to his sister's aid with a vengeance!

At street level the Thing struggles to do any damage, pounding at the sixty-foot mummy's ankles with super human strength. Doing little good, the Thing looks for a way to get a better vantage point, when suddenly he finds himself hoisted into the air by the stretchy adhesion of spider-webs!

Arriving on Gomdulla's shoulder, Thing taps the monster's cheek to get his attention, before unloading with a haymaker so powerful, the mummy snaps backward, getting knocked off his feet!

Thing tumbles earthbound in a free fall, while Mr. Fantastic limits collateral damage and civilian casualty by stretching himself out like a giant rubber canopy, to direct the monster's landing.

Thing isn't so fortunate, coming to a stop in an unceremonious meeting of ashphalt and cosmically enhanced rock.

Seasoned in weird; Human Torch heckles Spider-man for being afraid, while Invisible Woman offers sincere thanks for his match-winning assistance.

The hammer...
With the assist from Spidey, it's the Fantastic Four with the win.
Though Thing hit the knock-out blow, we're going to give the rest of the team the benefit of the doubt for their involvement both on and off the page, so this is a full stat for everyone.

I'm typing this entry on Sunday, so you've probably noticed by now that we've caught up to Thursday, only to completely drop the ball again through the weekend. What can I say? I guess that busy exciting life o' mine has finally managed to interfere so much, I can't even do the usual phone-in at the end of the night.

I'll be doing my best to avoid a repeat of last week's worth of posts, providing more entries from 2007, rather than another string of cover to cover recaps, but I won't make any promises. Suffice to say obligations of [today's] original holy day of fights, and tomorrow's Saturday Street Fight, shall be met!

If you've been following the on-going saga, you'll know it's been slim pickings for 2007. Of the few fights available to me from this year, this probably isn't the most battle-worthy, but I really love the spirit behind this story. Actually, it's quite a bit longer, and chances are you'll be seeing why it's called Electrical Problems in a future entry [hint-hint].

Spider-man Family really has been one of the break-out new series in my eyes. There have been few titles that have had me this excited, and certainly very few Spider-man books that have been this good in the past few years.
In a lot of ways Family brings the Unlimited model back, showcasing talent not typically seen on characters like Spidey, with stories that aren't necessarily placed in any particular time or situation. Of course, Family pushes the addition of classic reprints and first-time translations of Japan's Spider-man J, better justifying the purchase than the days of old.

I've enjoyed material both new and old, and will no doubt be following up with more original-story entries from this issue, and the previous. Entries that are particularly suitable given our desire to represent in some form a distilled capsulation of the year's hot characters, events, and overall zeitgeist.
Spider-man Family in it's first three issues, presumably by design, cast a spotlight on characters destined for the big screen. The first issue featured Sandman and Green Goblin, while the second took a look at Venom, and this issue correlated roughly with the big-screen FF sequel; making it the ultimate complimentary series to our intentions.

The series managed to depart from the film centric model, but also showcases it's nature as a pseudo successor to the departed Team-Up title, with characters like the Agents of Atlas, Dr. Strange, and soon, Thor.

To backtrack to the creative talents featured in the book, I should probably make some clarification. A guy like Sean McKeever, even before his move to DC (and Countdown), isn't exactly a total unknown. Neither are a variety of other writers and artists who've contributed, but the point remains that with Marvel plugging quietly away at a title like this, and the recently resurrected MCP, it's my hope that we see a new fostering of new talent.

Sure, it's a slightly selfish conceit. As a hopeful young writer dedicated to the comics medium, it's with some chagrin that I observe the influx of writers from other mediums. It's a frivilous debate to argue that one type of writer should be segregated from another, but with so many "big name" talents being poached from other mediums (with varying success), it's hard not to observe some level of concern given the methods by which writers enter today's 'big two' industry.

Even as a fan, I like the idea of a comics writer writing comics.
So, even if division is a silly pursuit, I think it's a wonderful sight to see Marvel pushing projects that potentially provide platforms for experimentation with new ideas, and new talents who may be ripe for the picking, but otherwise overlooked. Realistically, this excites me as a fan more than anything else, but the notion that as a writer I may one day be given the opportunity to enter the field with short stories? There's a classic charm to that, and a self-perpetuating quality that's kinda nice.

The Fight: 4.5 The Story: 6.5

Spider-man Family hasn't yet been collected, but at over one hundred pages, these serve as collections unto themselves. If you haven't yet picked up this book, do yourself a favour a give it a quick flick through at the comics store. I honestly think this is the best Spider-man book of the decade! I love it!

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