A Comic Book Entry – Let’s Look at Fantastic Four #3

Miscellany – this gets posted a day early (or two days late depending on your perspective) because I have scheduled further forays into the on-going foliage fights this weekend and didn’t want to skip out again if I got too tired. Okay, here’s the actual entry:

First, my friend cancelled his Marvel subscription.  They gave him his money back.  And yet this month two comics showed up in his mailbox.  Of course I had to take a look.

Second, I am a critic, but I really want to like these comics.  I do.  I really do.  I don’t want to be a Douchy McNitpick who tears everything apart because I hate the world, or the genre, or because I just don’t want anyone else to have nice things.  I’m willing to overlook some flaws in writing if the overall good outweighs the bad.  But I’m unwilling to overlook flaws if there is a rather glaring flaw that spoils the whole story, or numerous small flaws that add up to an unworkable whole.  Especially when I would usually have to pay $4 for the comic.  That’s too much money to spend for something that is not enjoyable.

And overall, the story is fine, except for one huge problem, which I’ll get to in a moment.  The upshot is that Johnny Storm has lost his powers and of course all hell is breaking loose.  These things happen.  I am quite confused by the endorsement quote Marvel chose to put on the cover, which says, “They are shaking the team to its core.”  Why is this a good thing?  Of all the team books in all the comic book universes, the Fantastic Four has been one of the most consistent in terms of team make-up.  That’s kind of the book’s schtick, if you will, and helps it stand out against team books with revolving line-ups, which is pretty much every other team.  I kind of liked the idea of the Future Foundation that gives the writers some options to change up the team a bit by using Alex Power for stories, for example.  But on the whole, the core of the FF is the FF.  Why change that?  People who read the FF do so to read about Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Thing, and the Human Torch.  People pick up and drop the Avengers or JLA based on who the writers are focusing on at the time.  Consistency is not necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, my problem with this story is a lack of understanding of both the continuity of the universe and a lack of relatability.  With Marvel, relatability is everything.  So, before I get into the actual problem, I’m going to posit a down to earth analogue.

1) The parents of a precocious fourteen-year old girl have been having arguments with their daughter.  She decides to run away from home and stay with a much older man who gets along very badly with the parents and has tried to cause them hardship in the past.  Granted, now that the daughter has run away, it will be quite difficult to retrieve her.  The correct course of action for the parents is:
a) Do nothing
b) Get their daughter back
I of course would vote with option b) and honestly don’t know anyone, parents or otherwise, who would allow their daughter to run away from home to stay with a non-family member who has an antagonistic relationship with the parents (or even a family member).  But I will concede there could be many dynamics at play and perhaps there might be some good reasons the parents would elect to go with option a), especially if there are some complicated logistics to getting their daughter back.  Fourteen is a willful age, after all.  But I’m still thinking sensible people would go with b).

2) Also, the non-family antagonist has a criminal record and most likely has current warrants out on him right now.  The correct course of action for the parents is:
a) Do nothing
b) Get their daughter back
Again, option b) seems like the only sensible choice here, and I’m having a hard time thinking of any reasons any parents would let their fourteen-year old daughter stay with a wanted criminal.

3) Also, the non-family antagonist tried to kill the daughter on a previous occasion.  The correct course of action for the parents is:
a) Do nothing
b) Get their daughter back!
Yeah, I’ve got no reason why the parents would do nothing even if getting her back was going to be very difficult.

4) Also, the daughter isn’t fourteen, she’s FOUR.  The correct course of action for the parents is:
a) Do nothing
b) Get their daughter back!!!
Why is this even a choice at this point?  There are no sensible reasons for allowing a four-year old to stay with a dangerous, violent criminal, who already tried to murder the child no matter how precocious the child is.

Is everyone with me so far?  In a real world situation, almost every parent in the world would be moving heaven and earth to get their child back.  But in FF #3, two parents are probably can move heaven and earth are doing exactly nothing.  That’s right, little Valeria has run away to Latveria to stay with “Uncle Victor” who has already attempted to kill her.  Because this is the FF and not the real world, I can think of one reason this might be allowed – future Franklin or Valeria told Reed and Sue to do nothing.

So, do I want to read FF #4 and find out if this is the explanation?  No, no I don’t and I’ll tell you why – because I don’t trust Marvel.  I don’t trust the staff at Marvel to have written and edited and approved a story that makes sense.  And frankly, even using the future kids is a bit of a cop-out, although one I would accept.  Not too long ago Doom tried to kill Valeria!  Did the creative team forget that?  Not read up on back issues?  Not know anything about the FF and the fact that Sue would do anything for her children???

Sigh.  Perhaps I lack imagination and just can’t think of another logically consistent reason for Reed and Sue to leave their four-year old daughter in the custody of Dr. Doom.  But empirical evidence suggests with a strong probability that I will only be disappointed.


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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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