Saturday, March 26, 2011

FF #1 -- A Review

Jim started us off on a negative note on Monday, so I might as well finish the week the same way. Rather than keep you in suspense, let's see the grade at the top of the page (just like in school), but we'll still save the summary statement until the end:


I don't know about you, but in my house a "C" is almost equivalent to an "F" (in my county they use an"E" instead - gotta protect the child's self-esteem you know). However, despite the two F's on the cover, this book certainly isn't a total failure. It is a bit mediocre though and I'm more wary of the new direction now that I've seen a glimpse of it. Oh, I'm not dumping the title this soon, I'm willing to give it a few issues at least, but I have plenty of misgivings...

Let's talk about some of the pluses first. The variant cover by Daniel Acuna is really great and inviting. The positive vibe coming from this image really sets you up for something new and exciting. The art by Steve Epting is also excellent (isn't it always). I especially liked the red and blue Spidey scenes when he's swinging toward the Baxter Building and I love his version of the Thing's head, which reminds me of Byrne's.

I actually like the new costumes for Reed and Sue, but Spider-Man's suit IS atrocious. Hopefully, the fact that he can change it mentally will mean that he soon will. I don't mind the Thing's outfit so much, but I think his boots are too small. The Thing's feet are usually huge and I can't imagine them fitting into those confining shoes. I know it's a nitpicking thing (no pun intended), but it just looked wrong to me.

The interiors of the Baxter Building look nifty with the broad staircases and windows, but functionally it doesn't make much sense. This is the most technologically advanced team on the planet and they don't even use an escalator or an elevator most of the time. Forget about saving the world, they'll be spending all their time climbing the stairs. I suppose it's designed to give that friendly non-profit "foundation" feel to it.

There isn't much action in the book. Only their brief battle with A.I.M when the Wizard is freed. Not sure why the Wizard was naked either. It's a lot of setup and we do at least get two new recruits in the issue, Spidey and...more on that later.

One of the biggest problems I had with the story right of the bat was Johnny Storm's video log. "How convenient" to quote the Church Lady. He just had the foresight that he was going to die and put this thing together, even naming Peter Parker as his replacement! I just don't buy it. And if Spider-Man's going to be on the team at a place where "everybody knows [his] name" already, why, why, why does he have to keep his mask on the whole time, especially during dinner?! If Peter didn't have a sweet job at Horizon, I'd be more on board with him being a part of the Future Foundation. There's only 24 hours in a day, dude.

Since I already brought up dinner, I have to mention the deplorable multicultural "prayer" offered by Alex Power. He mentions God, Jesus (by inference only, not by name -- too divisive I guess), the Ancient Ones, evolution, random-chance, and even the Devil. All the while, Sue and Reed are smiling proudly at his politically correct behavior. The fact that the different cultures and even species can coexist peacefully and work as a team, even function as a family is commendable, but equating that everyone's belief system is equally valid is another thing. Without even getting into who's beliefs are "correct" or not, implying that Jesus and the Devil are equal and compatible is INSANE. They can't all be equal at the same time in one person's mind, because what that really means is that none of them really mean anything to the individual. Maybe that's the point. Wouldn't it be more "tolerant" to have each individual pray according to their belief (or unbelief) and be respectful of who they are, even if you don't agree?! If I thought this was more than a one-time occurrence, this scene may have drove me away completely.

If Valeria wasn't annoying enough already, now we have Nathaniel Richards back (from the future no less), so he can tell Reed what he's doing wrong all the time. Why? Because he already knows what's supposed to happen. A prime example is having Doctor Doom join the group!!! More insanity. Maybe Reed should have been the one to have "died", because he seems pretty ineffectual as a leader right now. I do agree with his Dad that terraforming the Moon is a "terrible" idea. What right does he have to mess with the Moon?! That whole dinner table exchange was silly. Is this Eight is Enough or Leave it to Beaver? I think Hickman is trying too hard to emphasize the "First Family", by eating dinner and playing video games together. I think you can show the familial love and affection, without showing all the "normal" daily activities. Next issue, Sue goes grocery shopping at Aldi's (because she can save 30 to 50% plug plug).

Last but not least, let's talk about the value. The book was $4 for 29 pages and only 24 were actual story pages. I usually expect a four dollar book to have like 32 pages or something. We had a two-page credit page, it looked nice, but what a waste of space -- it's not like a television show where the opening title sequence is that important. Then we had the two-page silhouette roll call, not terrible, but it made me feel a bit gypped. None of these "extras" would have been an issue if it had only been three-bucks.

Not a promising start. Nice to look at, but conceptually there are a lot of problems. Hopefully, next issue will be better.


  1. I actually thought this book was great. (Highlighted by some of the covers, which you did admit to liking).

    I think Spidey's outfit looks sick. I actually liked the glimpse at the uniform if it was mostly black. He looked sleek and his costume tied into the teams enough while still giving him a bit of individuality.

    The Johnny Storm suggestion to make Pete the 4th member, while convenient, makes sense. They were the same age and met in Amazing Spider-Man #1 when they both were first dealing with becoming heroes as teenagers. They became best friends and have shared many team-ups. In a "good-bye" message he is also thinking of his close friend, not just his family. Also, even if Pete was busy he wouldn't say no to the FF so soon after their loss. It wouldn't be right. Oh, and that's what Spider-Man does...his life is a never ending story of stretching his priorities and himself too thin.

    Then there is the table scene... Reed is a man of science and logic, by respecting every belief he in turn gives them equal weight. He has seen many Gods... Who's to say which is right or wrong? Even the Devil did some good if he produced a respected child at the table. Everyone exists at the table...if they want to believe it's because of a religious belief or another reason it makes no difference. They still ended up at the same table.

    Here's an example: there are plenty of people who work at my internet company. Some went to Long Beach State, some to Standford, a few didn't even graduate college. Their job levels are equivalent, as well. So while some went to more prominent places, they all still ended up at the same place. In the comic, I just think this glimpse into the family meal shows the genuine care the family has for each other. I thought it was a good scene, as well.

    The one thing I can agree with you on is the idea to bring Doom on-board. That's just not smart. Reed should know better.

    Oh, and I don't like it either, but the standard price for Marvel comics with 22 pages seems to be $3.99. It sucks. I agree.

  2. Dom,

    You're right. The black uniform did look better on Spidey. Sue's black costume was nice too.

    Regarding the good-bye video, it seemed unrealistic that he had made one at all. If he had a terminal illness and was expecting to die, sure. And even if he was just being prepared for the inevitable, would it really have been recent enough to include Peter? I'm not sure how long he's known his identity. It was unnecessary. I would have rather seen Spidey volunteer to help out or the team ask him because he was the best choice. What a great gig this would've been for Peter in his civilian identity or as a Spider-Man with a public ID. I certainly don't think he needs his mask on around the "house".

    I'm fine with everyone at the table and if each person offered their thanks in their way, again fine. But for one person to offer all the thanks for everybody in all their different ways is dishonest. Would the Wizard kid be comfortable praying to God, when he really wants to pray to the Devil? Would the atheists at the table be comfortable praying to any sort of god, that they didn't really believe had any higher authority over their lives? It would just be lip service.

    Protestants aren't permitted to take the Eucharist in Catholic services (maybe there are some exceptions, I dunno). I didn't understand that at first until I learned the fundamental difference in what each group was believing the ritual to be. One is believing in transubstantiation -- that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ in some supernatural way. The other (me, the Southern Baptist) is seeing it as the Lord's Supper -- remembering the Lord's death until he comes again. For me to take their Eucharist would be akin to blasphemy and highly disrespectful. But I can attend a Catholic wedding or funeral and respectfully not participate.

    To me true tolerance is being accepting of the people with different beliefs, not embracing all the different beliefs. Most of the time the different beliefs don't gel together. I happen to believe in John 14:6, where Jesus says He's the only way. If I also thought that there were other ways to God, then I'd have to not believe what I claim to believe. Galatians 2:21 talks about if you could gain salvation through good works, then Christ died for no reason. Saying both (good works vs. atoning sacrifice) are true doesn't make sense. To me it would be like saying 1 = 0. If someone doesn't believe the way I do, well then I certainly hope they one day change their mind, because I believe there are eternal ramifications. However, that doesn't mean we can't agree to disagree and work, eat together, or talk comics. Likewise, this blog is a nice forum for a wide range of opinions and beliefs.

    I'm glad you liked the book. I certainly wanted to like it better. Thanks for the comment too! I really appreciate them.

  3. No prob. Thanks for the response.

  4. Didn't like the video at all. Johnny Storm taking the time to make a "in case I die" goes completely against his hotheaded (pun intended) nature.

    Johnny never had foresight for ANYTHING. Ever.

    This is why Reed should have died. After years of build up by Hickman it would have made a bigger impact. Johnny could have stepped up to be a more mature hero, and Valeria could have taken the Reed Richards role of team scientist.

    Wasted opportunity. So far there is nothing that wasn't a BOLD NEW RELAUNCH.

    I hope it gets better, but its not quite clicking for me.

  5. Shawn,

    Totally agree. Maybe Hickman only choose to "kill" Johnny because everybody would've thought that Reed was going to die instead. So for the sake of one (possible) surprise, we're stuck with this. I bet the Annihilus controlled Torch with the cosmic control rod will look pretty interesting in issue #600.