Marvel Sketch Cover Madness: Fantastic Four No. 13!

A digitally assembled Variant.

A digitally assembled Variant.

The current run of Fantastic Four is cancelled, and for good reason. The current book just hasn’t been very good, lacking the positive outlook that drives successful runs of the series. Isaac Perlmutter has been outspoken about not wanting to promote the license prior to Fox releasing a film in 2015, and there is no doubt that this has influenced the tone of the series. Still, issue No. 13 showed the return of the FF to their traditional blue colored uniforms (that’s what the art is about) and basically brought the band back together. Issue No. 14 was the big revelation of the Bad Guy behind it all.

All told, something of a snooze fest.

FF No. 13 had the bulk of the issue devoted to breaking Ben Grimm and the Sandman out of Superjail. Intended to read like a “Caper story,” it really lacked the little improvisations, the Things That Go Wrong, that make a story like that work. There is one moment, however, and it’s quite effective, as the Thing faces off against Sharon/She-Thing. The art slows down, becomes enshrouded in shadows, and silent panels are allowed to pause the ongoing narration. It’s actually quite heartbreaking as the She-Thing looks over her shoulder at the fleeing Thing. He didn’t even offer to have her escape with them. That’s cold, Ben Grimm.

We know, too, that she’s probably going to be abandoned by the writer, too, as she’s left in obscurity. That leaves her in good company, perhaps, as there’s a lot that’s abandoned by the writer, most notably the whole reason that the Thing’s in prison in the first place. Remember the murder of the Puppet Master? Yeah, that. Ben was put in prison for murder, and now we aren’t talking about that. Like, at all. Forget that he had both motive and opportunity. The entire ranks of the Avengers have descended upon the Fantastic Four for less than this, but the Thing can escape prison with no one batting an eye.

Equally arbitrary is the decision to switch back to blue uniforms. It’s pretty much in line with the statement by Fox that they are intending to be as dissimilar from the comics material as possible…rendering no reason for Marvel to keep them OUT of their traditional look. I always detest when the corporate marketing decisions influence the story in such ways.

In No. 14, we find out that the mastermind behind this whole series is John Eden, who Reed now works for. He’s a villain called the Quiet Man, who has been retconned into being the mastermind behind many of the major things to go wrong for the FF through its entire history. I hate that kind of retcon, it’s the thing that makes me dislike “Hush” by DC Comics. What’s this guy’s beef with Reed? The Quiet Man hates Reed because he talked to Sue before he could. That’s nuts, right? Not a good kind of nuts either.

Heck…I already have Victor Von Doom, who thought Reed was a crappy college room mate.

Furthermore, John Eden somehow has access to the world of Counter Earth from Heroes Reborn, which both Marvel Comics and readers like me are trying hard to FORGET. The Avengers from Heroes Reborn are apparently henching for John Eden, which makes next to no sense at all. Besides giving me some visual grist for another post, it’s pretty disappointing.

The art pre-cover style.

The art pre-cover style.

At the very least, it did allow me to get off to a start for vacation, without any sort of holiday posting. Returning to the Fantastic Four subplot should give me some grist for the next two weeks or so.

Next Issue: Rama-Tut, and Fantastic Four that I Liked!

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