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The fall of the Marvel Universe’s first family continues this April in FANTASTIC FOUR #3 – from the explosive creative team of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk! The Fantastic Four have saved Manhattan from an inter-dimensional invasion – but the cost was severe. What was once a team of four has been reduced to three. Is this the end of the Human Torch? Plus – don’t miss the introduction of a stronger, even deadlier WRECKING CREW! But with the team down one member, will the Fantastic Four be strong enough to stop them? Fans will not want to miss FANTASTIC FOUR #3 this April!
Beau Garrett Joins the Cosmic Cast
Model-turned-actress Beau Garrett has joined the cosmic cast of the forthcoming Fantastic Four sequel, Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer. The torch-hot actress joins returning cast members Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, and Michael Chiklis in the hugely anticipated sequel starring the Marvel’s First Family. Garrett will play Frankie Raye, a scientist and love interest to the Human Torch, Johnny Storm. In the comics, Raye becomes a superhero named Nova with Human Torch-like abilities making the two a rather -um- hot item. Garrett has appeared on TV in HBO’s Entourage and FOX’s North Shore.
With the addition of Garrett joining the cast and the Silver Surfer riding a cosmic wave into this sequel, you can bet there will be even more eye-popping action in this second Fantastic Four flick. Be prepared to witness the power cosmic in June 2007.
Two-issue story arcs are starting to become a trend in Ultimate Spider-Man, a change of pace from a comic book that had been hitting the racks with long arcs (sometimes buffered with stand-alone issues). Whether or not this trend intrigues or disappoints, is up to the reader. To this faithful reader, it disappoints.
I think what was intriguing about the Ultimate universe was that Marvel was taking characters with convoluted continuity (specifically the X-Men and Spidey) and breaking them down to the core of what a) made them interesting and b) made them popular. It’s worked for a long time. But take a look at recent issues of both titles and you’ll find a slow, creeping trend of what exactly went wrong in the 616 universe: overkill. (While this was more a problem with the 101 Dalmutants, there are certainly some examples in the Spideyverse where things become a bit out of hand.)
While the Ultimate X-Men continue to recruit new members so that each new writer can give his take on an obscure old favorite (i.e. Dazzler, dressed like a reject from early 80’s English punk), Ultimate Spidey has exhausted all of his villians and now does team-ups. (Wasn’t that title cancelled?) After story arcs with Wolverine and the Human Torch, Spidey not only teams up with the Ultimates, but presumably is going to team up with Dr. Strange at some point (he for whom the title of said arc is named).
Or is he? Admittedly, I’m not familiar with Dr. Stephen Strange’s history in the 616 universe but Ultimate Spider-Man #70 speaks of two Stranges…a Dr. Stephen Strange, Sorcerer Supreme, and his son, Stephen Strange, Jr, “the sorcerer to the stars.” Most of the background for Strange is provided via a TV biography interspersed between scenes of Peter telling MJ about his exploits in flashback. Peter and Ben Urich are charged with interviewing Strange for the Daily Bugle and, as you would expect, chaos ensues.
The climax of the story is rather textbook. It’s almost anti-Bendis in nature…utilizing conventions typical of 616 Spider-Man issues from decades ago. But stepping back to my biggest argument with the issue, as well as the Ultimate universe: Ultimate Spider-Man seems to be treading water. They hit us with a great deal of big stories, origins, deaths, and epic twists in the first 60 issues. Now you get the sense that the title has become a way to promote the universe. (Despite knowing a highly anticipated grand Hobgoblin arc is upcoming.) Perhaps if the arcs were expanded to four issues and fleshed out, they would be excecuted better. The Human Torch crossover had a great pulse to it and could easily have acted as not only a Bendisian statement on adolesence and romance but also a great duo caper. Here, I’m already a bit confused with what’s going on with the Dr. Stranges and there’s only one more issue left (and a good amount to explain).
Bendis does get a few hits with some of his at bats. The scenes with Jonah, Ben and Peter are priceless, tapping into some vibes masterfully delivered by the movie version of the Daily Bugle chief. The conversation between MJ and Peter in the beginning is playful, mysterious, and akward, easily hinting at something more going on. There’s also a fun cameo by Deathlok. Bagley has a few great panels, as well, despite having a lot pushed off the page due to heavy exposition. (I counted at least three pages that are half art, half text.) While the last page spread is a rather silly comic book ending, it’s still wonderfully illustrated by Bags.
It’s not a terrible issue, but it does feel pieced together. I haven’t even commented on the appearance by the Ultimates, which at times is funny but for the most part feels forced. At the heart of any Ultimate Spider-Man issue by Bendis is Peter Parker, who he still does a great job of writing, even in a substandard storyline. But it’s his interaction with HIS family, HIS friends, HIS enemies that makes a Spider-Man title work so well. And while there’s nothing wrong with playing in other people’s sandboxes, unless it’s fully explored and explained, I’d rather stick to what we know.
Reviewer: Jason Grasso, Desperad07@aol.com
Quick Rating: Above Average
Story Title: “Strange”
People are Strange, when you’re a stranger…
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Mark Bagley
Inker: Scott Hanna
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Assistant Editor: Nick Lowe
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley
Kurt Williams, special effects supervisor of the Fantastic Four movie, said that the Human Torch is “one of the most challenging characters I’ve ever done” to bring to life. “We have to bring a flaming man onto the screen that doesn’t look animated,” Williams said. “It has to feel like he’s really on fire.”