New Reviews of Old Comics
I admit it; I’m a day later than I should be. This is one of those cases where life gets in the way of writing and I ran out of “bank” reviews to post. Hopefully I’m back on track now. So I know what you’re thinking; only a buck for FF #144? It’s true, but look at the condition. This thing is hardly a collectible; it has more wrinkles and creases than a Hollywood celeb before botox. Regardless, I sure got a kick out of reading a nearly 40 year old issue of Fantastic Four. Although not one of the great Lee/Kirby issues, it is a good example of the classic Marvel-style of the 1970s.
Written by Gerry Conway with art by Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott “Attack!” is the continuation of yet another battle with Doctor Doom. This must have been done on the very edge of deadline, because that’s just a horrible title. Anyway, we open with an angry, determined Reed Richards throwing his elastic body over a New York City sewer that looks more like a cavern from an Indiana Jones story. This Mr. Fantastic bridge allows the Thing, Medusa and a purple demon named Darkoth to cross over. By piecing together references the whole story started when the Thing was lured to eastern Europe with hopes of restoring his girlfriend Alicia’s, vision. Of course this was a trap by Doctor Doom to split up and defeat the Fantastic Four (finally). After some needless fight scenes between the Thing and Darkoth (he had been an ally of Doom, but switched sides for reasons I can only assume). The Human Torch has been previously captured by Doom, who makes the classic villain mistake of keeping his foe alive to explain his plan instead of just eliminating him. Don’t these guys watch movies and learn from the mistakes of other would-be world conquerors? Although Doom gets to begin his evil plan (a “vibro-bomb” which is NOT something sold in an adult toy store, but something that makes people feel really bad) Reed of course manages to outsmart Doom in the very last pages. What role does Sue, the Invisible Girl play in all of this? None. She’s not even mentioned once. Why? I have no idea.
There are times when I think Fantastic Four is among the best super-hero comics. This is not one of those issues; lots of clichés, more pointless fight scenes that is really needed. The Thing is just a giant pouty pants through the whole issue, which gets tiresome. Having said all of that, I still enjoyed reading the story; even a bad issue of Fantastic Four is still pretty good. Gerry Conway’s script is a bit over done for my tastes, but this was the Marvel style at the time, so it’s to be expected. Buckler and Sinnott do a good job of interpreting Kirby’s style. Fantastic Four #144 is not a high-water mark of comic history, but it is well worth reading anyway.