Tuesday, May 31, 2005

This Comic Is Good - Fantastic Four #86

I was recently talking about this in regards to Marc Sumerak, and I guess it might bear repeating.

One of the smartest writing "tricks" out there is to spend a lot of time building up your characters. Give them interesting personalities, depth and conflicts.

Once you have done THIS, you can get away with a lot less thinking when it comes to coming up with a plot.


Because the depth of the plot will not matter as much as how these characters that you have designed REACT to the plot.

So even a simple plot can bring great interest to the reader if the characters are interesting enough.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby realize this, and so the interactions between the members of the Fantastic Four, between the Fantastic Four and the subjects of Latveria, between Dr. Doom and his servants...it all combines for one interesting story.

That is why Fantastic Four #86 is a good comic.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The gist of it is that Doom has trapped the Fantastic Four in a village in Latveria, and stripped them of their powers. Meanwhile, he has sent an army of robots to destroy the Fantastic Four, and anyone else in the village. Unluckily, Doom has lost control of his robots, so he cannot protect anyone if he WANTED to from the robots' rampage (there is a great scene where Doom tells the villagers that he is sorry that they might have to die, but they will be considered heroes!).

So basically, what we have is the powerless Fantastic Four and a bunch of Latverian villagers (who are indoctrined to HATE the Fantastic Four) sitting in a castle just waiting for the robots to show up to attack.

Really cool stuff.

The attack is well told, as is the Fantastic Four's strive to regain their power (as they discover it was hypnosis, so their powers still EXIST, they just have to strive to access them) and the villagers grow to begrudingly respect the heroes.

Upon the inevitable defeat, Doom decides to basically nuke the whole town to kill them all (says Doom, "I would shatter half a planet to defeat the Fantastic Four!" What a great line!). Of course, Lee has to screw the pooch by having Doom freak out right before he nukes the town, "I forgot! My subjects! Noo!"

I swear to you, that's the actual dialogue.

Doom FORGOT about that there were citizens of Latveria in the town...which happens to be IN LATVERIA!!!

How dumb is that?

However, the Fantastic Four is saved by the Invisible Girl (who was not a member at the time, as she was on maternity leave, with Crystal filling in for her)'s forcefield.

The surprise of her return is blunted a bit by showing her on the cover, but it is still a cool moment.

The issue ends with the Fantastic Four now ready to take the fight to Doom!


Great art by Kirby (the robots are pure Kirby) and a good story.

This was a good comic.

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Blogger Bill said...

This entire storyline is worth reading; it's like the Fantastic Four meets "The Prisoner." There aren't any killer weather balloons or mute dwarf butlers, but you definitely get a feel for the kind of inspired lunacy Kirby would've been able to do if he had ever gotten his proposed Prisoner comic book off the ground (and don't get me wrong, the Prisoner book that Dean Motter did for DC in the 80s was great, but who would've better than Kirby at creating four color adventures for Number Six?)

5/31/2005 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher Burton said...

I can't quite recall, but I think there was a scene in this one where the Thing punches a robot and sends fragments flying.

Actually, that scene is in a third of the Fantastic Four comics ever published, so I'm probably misremembering. I just remember those fragments and how cool they looked. Uh, were the robots purple? I remember purple robots. :)

5/31/2005 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

"I forgot! My subjects! Noo!"

Honestly, I don't think that line is bad at all.

6/01/2005 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher Burton said...

Sure, George Lucas used it in RotS, so how bad could it be? "Noo!"

6/01/2005 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I dunno, T.

Doom just got finished explaining to his aide that he was quite willing to destroy a village if it meant defeating the Fantastic Four.

It occured to him that it was probably a bad thing to destroy the village, but it didn't occur to him that he'd also be destroying the villagers IN the village?

I don't think that speaks very highly of Doom's observational skills.

6/02/2005 08:30:00 PM  
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