5 Things to Like About Fantastic Four: True Story #1

Paul Cornell does it again. I was always a fan of his Doctor Who work, both in print and on the screen, and then he made me a believer in his comics work as well with his Captain Britain work. And now, with Fantastic Four: True Story, despite the fact that I currently have no interest in the monthly FF series. Five reasons why:

1. It's about literatureIf you love Fables (and you should), you should really be up for a story that uses the great works of fiction as its canvas. Something is threatening to destroy great literature and the FF have to go into the Domain of Human Story created by our collective unconscious. With Dante as their guide. And the first stop is clobberin' time in Sense and Sensibility. Just check out that nice Meanwhile caption.

2. Sue is the key
I don't know what it is about me, but I like it when the runt of the litter makes good. I like it when Bouncing Boy wins the day, when it's all down to Kitty Pryde, when Vancouver makes it to the Stanley Cup. And Sue Richards is that character in the FF, even after they gave her the force fields, even after they stopped calling her a Girl. In a team with a genius, a strongman and a human furnace, it's hard for an invisible woman to shine, but here she does. She's the reader of the lot. She's the one with a spiritual life and an aesthetic sensibility. So she's the one to crack this case wide open.

3. Reality check!
Cornell knows he's using fictional characters to explore a fictional space, so following in the footsteps of Animal Man and the bulldozer trails of Ambush Bug, the FF are treated as fictional in the story itself (they're in denial though). For example, they're suddenly aware of comic book transitions and can read word balloons, and Cornell uses the comic to play with FF clichés in a meta-fictional way.

4. Reed as the Doctor
This is one the most perfect Reed Richards panel ever. On paper, Reed IS quite a bit Doctorish, isn't he? So I don't mind the characterization at all. Not if he thinks nothing of creating new fields of human endeavor like it ain't no thing.

5. The comedy
Cornell has a lot of fun with FF history and long-standing clichés, using humor to either lovingly highlight it or lovingly lampoon it. There's practically at least one joke that'll make you smile on each page. Willie Lumpkin keeping his Silver Age running gag going, the usual bickering between the Torch and the Thing taken to the meta-textual level, great lines like "Johnny, just for once, could your brain participate in the life of your mouth?"... The FF have never worked so well as a comedy. It's not all highbrow postmodernism either: A giant monster gets hit in the junk.


Sea-of-Green said...

OMG, you mean the FF are actually FUN again!?! HUMOR?!?!

Is hell a little bit colder this morning ...?


Siskoid said...

Another case where a mini-series is more entertaining than a monthly (like Gotham by Midnight).

Maybe doing all comics this way would make them better. No fill ins, certainly.

Jayunderscorezero said...

You mean use the IDW approach to storytelling?
Hell, that's certainly one way to make sure a series technically never ever gets "cancelled", there's just longer and longer waits being the various minis!

Also, I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the FF usually, but this series does sound fantastic. You may indeed have just sold me on it.

Siskoid said...

I don't know if you're supporting or condemning the publishing strategy.

But if I've sold you on the mini, I'm glad to have done it.

Jayunderscorezero said...

Neither supporting nor condemning, really, just commenting.

Also, colour me stupid for never having (knowingly) exposed myself to any Paul Cornell before.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know something's fun in the mainverse outside of Power Pack. (Did they ever release the last issue of Day 1?) Sadly, I've never been interested in FF.

Speaking of IDW, what do you think about their version of Doctor Who, Siskoid?

Siskoid said...

Jay: Paul's relatively new to the comics field, so if you're not a Whovian, you probably wouldn't have.

Shadow: Sadly, I was underwhelmed by the first two issues.

Anonymous said...

Yes, day one concluded.
They started another one too. They fight skrulls. Same writer, though.

Siskoid said...

I SO do not care about Skrullapalooza, it's almost insane.

I "read" Secret Invasion straight off the rack and it seems to be built on splash pages, each one to be continued in the pages of some other comic I don't read. Awful, and certainly not getting to read any tie-in.

mwb said...

"I SO do not care about skrullapalooza, it's almost insane."

Bingo! Too many big events one after another that keep disrupting the titles. It's ruining some Marvel titles that I'm barely maintaining interest in, until hopefully they stop this crap!

And I do love the Dr. Who & Reed Richards linking.

In my wonky cross genre mind, I've always wanted to see Reed, the Doctor and Washu (from the Tenchi Muyo OAVs) meet! The science geeking would be legendary!

Siskoid said...

That would indeed be the team-up to end all team-ups.


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