Review: Fantastic Four Annual #32
I've actually enjoyed the Fantastic Four under Hickman for the first time in Years. McDuffie's wasn't bad, but Millar drove the series into the ground with that hyper-realism thing he does. Which isn't bad in the Ultimate Universe. I actually really like it, but everyone became cocky and arrogant and very annoying.
I love the way Hickman writes Reed. He's a proper Science Badass. it's really clear that Reed is Hickman's "Main Character" and everyone else is playing Support. Good, because normally it's Ben and Sue and occasionally Johnny, and they're all in their personal arcs, and Reed is just there to be the Science Man.
No more under Hickman. Reed is the focus, the locus of the FF, and that's Good. he has personality, he has guts and he uses that intelligence in forward thinking and speech as well as creating Deux Ex Machina guns. It's not like other books, and that for me, is why it's enjoyable. I'll get this Annual and see how bad it actually is.
" @ComicMan24 said:
" I don't know why but I always felt that the Fanastic Four were a bit disconnected with the rest of the Marvel Universe. "I completely agree with you, but I feel the same about the Avengers teams and the X-Teams. "
I can't say about the Avengers but I do agree about the X-Teams.
First: annuals - if the current trend is indeed to put some random artist and writer on it, that aren't doing the regular book, then that's a poor use of the annual. Personally, I used to like it when the annual was the yearly climax to whatever story was going just then. Like New Teen Titans Annual #1 - "WAR!" - the culmination of their experience with the Gordanians, Blackfire, and (if I remember right) the Omega Men. That was awesome! Or the way NTT Annual #2 introduced the Adrian Chase Vigilante, *and* a handful of assassins that were contracted through the Monitor - a nice, intriguing lead-in to Crisis, and a wrap-up to the Anthony Scarapelli story.
However, somewhere along the way, someone (and I suck lemons at remembering who and/or quoting the source, so deal with it - the day I start gettin' paid for it, I'll do my research) said, "Why do I need an annual for the climax to the story? If I'm just going to continue the story, why not do it in a regular issue?" And that's not an awful question, so okay, let's change formats. Marvel, in particular, went to what I call the "shared story" format - storylines like "Atlantis Attacks," that ran through 4 to 6 of the company's annuals. Not a bad tactic for getting you to check out other books.
Then came the event stuff. Probably the most blatant annual event was 1993's new character annuals, from both Marvel and DC. Marvel just had individual annuals that introduced a character and came with a trading card for that character. DC made it a storyline event with "Bloodlines," and didn't include cards. After the new character stuff, thematic annuals seemed to rule the day, with themes like "Pulp Heroes," "Elseworlds" and "Legends of the Dead Earth." Personally, I love that kind of thing, but it gets old after awhile, just like collecting some 35 issues for any one event.
Considering the extra price, the annual should be something special. Rather than putting some unknowns on the book, that you haven't been on the journey with the whole time, the annual should be a "thank you for sticking with us," from the regular writer and artist - an extra effort to show you that they appreciate the fans. To me, having some other team do it just says that they wanted to put out one more book, so they could get five more bucks out of my wallet. Forget that.
I like an annual that climaxes the current story, even if that is something that could have been done in a regular issue. However, I like for that climax to be backed up with one or two solo stories (I'm thinking of a team book here) that tells us a little more about certain members or maybe even an enemy - maybe even something that's setting up the next story. And maybe a Who's Who (oops, showing my age! I meant Secret Files)/ Official Handbook page or three, in the back. That's a sweet annual.
(Crud, I hate it that I can't start a new thought in a new comment window... grr - makes my rants all extra long)
So, second, there's the disconnected feeling everyone was talking about. In a weird way, Marvel's fostered that. Going back to Onslaught, when reality got flipped, the X-Teams were in one universe, and everyone else was in the other, with the Hulk stuck inbetween (or rather, a personality in each universe). [Come to think of it, that may go back as far as Secret Wars - were there any X-Men on the Battleworld? Hm...] Anyway, point is: Age of Apocalypse was an X-story, and Heroes Reborn was for the rest of 'em. Avengers were all up into Civil War and Secret Invasion, with two and three books (or more - I didn't really count - Avengers, New, Mighty, Dark, Non-Fat, etc.). Fantastic Four always seems to get their own event-related mini-series, so that we see what they're up to while all this stuff is going on, but it never seems to me that they're directly involved. Color me surprised that Reed Richards was directly involved with rocketing the Hulk into space. It's like they've found some awkward way to give them all their own space, yet still have year-long, company-wide events.
And I'll try not to say "all up into" or "color me [anything]," ever again.
Some annuals do tie into the main storyline. The ASM annual that came out during Secret Invasion (was it really 2008?) actually directly impacted the regular comic. But even since I first started reading comics, I've sort of known that most annuals don't actually continue the main story. Which is kind of too bad, because then I don't really have any reason to pick them up.
What ruined your review for me was when you said " Batman Annual 25 was better than the regular book".
I own 35,000 books (not counting reprints), owned a comic store and have been collecting for almost 30 years and Batman annual 25 was the single worst comic I've read. Ever.
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