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CSBG Archive

You Must Pick One Or the Other #1

This is the first of a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of posts where I present two different approaches to the same idea by two different comic book creators and you folks get to pick which one you like best!

To begin, let’s take a look at two explanations for Mister Fantastic’s name!

Enjoy!

From Fantastic Four (Vol. 3) #60, here’s what Mark Waid came up with (the set-up is that the whole issue people have been wondering why Reed seems to care so much about the FF’s popularity, even hiring a PR firm in the issue to help raise the FF’s profile)…

From Fantastic Four: Attaque del MODOK! #1 (which came out a few weeks ago), here’s what Tom Beland came up with (the set-up is that Reed and Sue are on vacation in Puerto Rico and are playing a game where they each ask each other 20 personal questions, Sue has already explained that the moment she knew Reed was the one for her was the day he “set up her stereo” by digitizing all of her records and making them voice activated)…

105 Comments

Waid’s by far, makes more sense to me.

Waid and ‘Ringo on FF was the only run of FF since John Byrne’s work in the 80′s that has interested me in the least.

Beland for me. I’m a romantic and optimist. Though, Waid’s is also romantic but in a different way.

I really hate that Waid explanation. I dislike this need explain away things from old comics that never needed explaining in the first place. There’s nothing embarrassing about. He’s a superhero. It’s a fine all purpose superhero name.

Beland’s explanation is just as unnecessary, but at least it’s cute.

A girl I once dated called me Mr. Perfect. That doesn’t mean I would adopt the name for myself.

Waid’s explanation makes much more sense and is a far more interesting character development.

Waid’s story makes Reed a far more interesting character, and gives the story an element of pathos that’s completely absent from Beland’s piece. Plus, try to say Sue’s line in the Beland story: “[blah blah blah] is Mister Fantastic in my book!” That’s just not how people talk. It feels weird. Everything Reed says in the Waid story sounds like a person actually talking, and the person we see there, a guy who is brilliant, but scared that his friends will abandon him, who wants to tell his secrets to somebody, but can’t really confide in anybody…Waid makes Reed a human being, one who actually goes through tough things and has to deal with the same messy crap everyone else has to. In the Beland piece, Reed’s biggest problem is that people call him a nerd. One of these characters is intriguing; one is standard-issue wish fulfillment.

Both are great, but Waid’s explanation seems more interesting to me.

Definitely Waid’s is the more interesting and character defining to me.

“Mr. Fantastic” sounds more like a name the press would come up with

(like shortened in use from “Mr. Fantastic Four” I mean, since he is the public face, spokesperson, and the actual founder of the team)

They’re not really in opposition, it’s easy to imagine the Beland moment happened and after the cosmic rays, Reed acted with the Waid reasoning, and used the name that stuck with him.

I’m abstaining from voting in this case.
Waid’s explanation does not preclude Beland’s. Reed being Reed, he could very well have recognized the need for fame, but then when choosing exactly what his nom de guerre was to be, chose something that he had an emotional tie to while still fitting the criteria of what he was looking for. BOTH explanations work for me.

I think both can co-exist. He had to make them into celebrities (as in Waid’s version) and choose the Mr. Fantastic moniker specifically because Sue called him it once (Beland’s version. Viola! No need to pick sides!

Of course that defeats the whole purpose of this exercise (should have read the article title closer) so I’ll go Waid’s.

I love Waid’s description. It gives a silly name an amount of weight and burden nobody else could know, and gives the character depth. Which is what these stories are all about.

Tho I did enjoy Beland’s comic here, Waid’s theory is by far the most sense when it comes to Reed.

I’m not voting because you can use both origins. He may have had Beland’s origin of the name source, then co-opted it for Waid’s origin.

Love doesn’t have to make sense! Viva la Beland!

Are the two mutually exclusive?

I like Waid’s a lot more.

Too close to call, both really touching in my oppinion.

Lee

I like the idea of Reed being touched by Sue’s appreciation for his genius, but, both dramatically and logically, Waid’s explanation is better. As others have said, though, one does not necessarily preclude the other.

I like Waid’s much more. I have a hard time picturing a Reed who is insecure because people call him a nerd and girls don’t like him. On the contrary, I picture even a young Reed as being supremely self-confident, a trait, I might add, that both excludes him from being a nerd and also makes him attractive to women. So, yeah, I just don’t buy the second one. Sorries!

I really hate that Waid explanation. I dislike this need explain away things from old comics that never needed explaining in the first place. There’s nothing embarrassing about. He’s a superhero. It’s a fine all purpose superhero name.

I agree. Yet another example of why I dislike the Waid run of the FF so much. Not as dumb as Geoff Johns explaining Barry Allen’s bow tie but still unnecessary.

Beland’s explanation is just as unnecessary, but at least it’s cute.

It feels like a clip from the Wonder Years. And Reed talking about how Sue is so out of his league just comes off wrong. I find Beland’s superhero writing in general to be oftentimes quite syrupy and maudlin.

I like Waid’s much more. I have a hard time picturing a Reed who is insecure because people call him a nerd and girls don’t like him. On the contrary, I picture even a young Reed as being supremely self-confident, a trait, I might add, that both excludes him from being a nerd and also makes him attractive to women. So, yeah, I just don’t buy the second one. Sorries!

I agree. It feels like it was written by someone who learned everything he knows about possible human archetypes solely from watching 80s teen movie cliches. Like, this guy is super smart, so obviously he must have grown up a socially maladjusted and bullied nerd to boot. Bendis and Millar fell into the same trap with Ultimate Reed. Lee and Kirby’s Mr. Fantastic was not only super-smart but was a rugged combat hero in the war and seemed very popular and socially proficient in college. He sometimes would border on outright arrogance in the earlier appearances. Every smart, scientist type doesn’t have to be a version of Peter Parker.

Waid’s, I went out of my way to track down that issue because of it.

Also, I love the concept behind this post, keep them coming.

Spider Jerusalem

October 21, 2010 at 10:04 am

You really are going out of your way to find Dylan lyrics now, aren’t you?

Waid’s.

Why are people complaining that the main guy’s name was explained? I get keeping some things a mystery, but this was necessary because Reed doesn’t do anything without thinking it through.

I’m with everyone else who isn’t voting because both explanations are not mutually exclusive, they feed one into the other– Reed decides to go for the celebrity angle and picks a name Sue called him.

In many ways, I find Beland’s way more annoying than Waid’s. I’ve seen Beland’s tactic of an ordinary remark turning out to be something big (with a wry, ironic nod) done dozens of times; hell I think Smallville does at least it once an episode. (Comics Critics did a great parody of it a few months ago). Waid’s smacks of revisionism and explain-how-it-works, but I liked how he explained how and why the FF went the route they did and how it prevented them from being regarded like, say, mutants in the Marvel Universe.

Waid’s explanation is one of the best things ever out of Marvel. That issue is so good and he made Reed into such a wonderful character. There is SO much heart and emotion there.

I don’t like what he did with Doom shortly thereafter, mind you.

@Zolton- There wasn’t anything to be kept a mystery in the first place. I always kind of thought the name was self-explanatory.

Waids is better, but I can accept Belands as an addendum of where the name came from.
@Graeme: What’s wrong with explaining how things work?

What’s wrong with explaining how things work?

Nothing at all. It’s just that I think too often modern comics want to navel-gaze and explain how an ephemeral detail happened when rather than actually telling a really great story.

Here’s an extra added question to the poll that I think should be asked, and I’m curious as to how people will answer:

Is the name Mr. Fantastic problematic enough to you that you couldn’t do without some sort of in-story explanation?

I’m curious about whether this was ever really a common issue among Fantastic Four readers before Waid and Beland addressed it.

I think it depends on what’s being explained and how. These stories address something of significance to the F4- not some arcane bit of trivia like Reed’s shoes or something. I agree they’re not contradictory.

What made me vote for #1, though, is that it addresses the negative implications the likes of various Marvel AUs, Cracked articles and the Venture Brothers have run with- and makes him human. There is tension built into his relationship with Sue but it’s about balancing each other out.

I’m not sure I have to choose. Neither contradicts the other.

I’ve been reading FF since the late sixties, and yes, my friends and I always considered Mister Fantastic one of the dumbest names in comics. Right up there with Green Lantern and Paste Pot Pete.

Unabashed Waid fan here…I’ve liked his explanation since I first read it.

But to answer T’s question, it’s one of those things in comics that needed no explanation at the time it was written in the Silver Age, but now it adds something to have it explained. And if you think about it, the other three have reasons for their names (more or less). Ben’s name indicates his self-loathing of his new form. Johnny’s is (retroactively) a homage to the original character with that name — a natural fit for a teenager. Sue’s name is pretty on-the-nose, and representative of her second-class status within the group in the beginning, which is why it made for a good story when she changed it. And Reed’s is just…”Well, I’ll call myself this.” With a subtext of “…and then name the team after myself.” Granted, there are some issues from the Lee/Kirby era where Reed positively brags on his name: “Now these thugs will find out why I’m called MISTER FANTASTIC!” But as the characterization changed over time, I think Waid’s explanation, while retroactive and not strictly necessary, adds to the character.

Hadn’t read Beland’s until now–I like it, it’s fine.

Waid’s is one of the great defining moments of the FF to me. Love his run, love this issue, love the explanation!!!

I’m not sure I have to choose. Neither contradicts the other.

Yes, you do, it’s right there in the title. I never said the ideas contradicted each other – you just pick which one you like better.

I thought Waid’s idea was acceptable, but I always assumed he chose the name because he’s such an egotist.

They’re both very sweet. But Waid’s explanation covers the impetus for all that is the Fantastic Four. (Though I got a bit closer to choked up on the second one.)

Yeah, can I pick Norm MacDonald’s?

While they both work together fine, I like Waid’s better as an explanation for the Fantastic Four as a whole.

I vote for mine… because I wrote it… and I got paid. ;)

I’m with Crash Man.
One is the reason he picked a silly name, the other is why he picked THAT silly name.

Oh hey look, it’s Tom Beland.

I like Waid’s a bit more, I think;.

Waid’s is the more interesting, but Beland’s pulls on my heart strings more. Had to go with heart.

I’m going with Beland. Waid’s does seem like a bit of over-thinking to me. I like Beland’s for being more personal and relating to the character, rather than retroactively to the characters’ motvations and choices.

I like Waid’s personally, though Beland’s is cute.

I think Waid’s explanation gets at the very heart of Reed Richards as a character. It points out Reed’s greatest trait in that he will do anything to find a solution to a problem…and also his greatest curse in not letting others decide for themselves. Reed irrevocably changes the lives of the people he loves most and then decides that celebrity is the best path for them. He even points out that his reasoning for doing so is at least partly selfish. Reed doesn’t give them the choice of how to deal with their situation. There’s a very thin line that separates Reed and Dr. Doom in terms of mindset and motivation. It’s why (IMHO), Reed made a much more believable antagonist for Civil War than Iron Man.

This can only be solved by a fight to the death. Mr. Waid, Mr. Beland… DIVE FOR THE KNIFE

i like Shaun M.’s statement so much, i’m ripping it off:

I like the idea of Reed being touched by Sue’s appreciation for his genius, but, both dramatically and logically, Waid’s explanation is better. As others have said, though, one does not necessarily preclude the other.

Thanks Shaun!
DFTBA

Beland.

Waid/Wiengro got me into the F4, but I’ve never felt more emotion towards the charcters than this.

I agree that the two backstories are not incompatible, but if I had to choose only one, I’d go with Waids.

Neat idea for a new feature. I look forward to the future installments.

If Waid and Beland were to do battle, it would be one of the single-greatest slappy-fights in history.

I think that both could co-exist, as Jeff Parker pointed out earlier.

But, since we’re choosing, I really have to go with Waid’s.

The art on both is pretty, though.

Waid’s.

I remember a time when Reed was portrayed as a hero who happened to be brilliant, not a “nerd” or a manipulative jerk like they portrayed him during Civil War.

Reed is a hero who’s made mistakes. I hope they don’t kill him off again because he’s the second best FF member next to Ben.

Tom Fitzpatrick

October 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm

WAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIDDDDDDDDDD’sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

Jus’ cuz’ he’s EVIL! ;-)

It’s hard to argue against Waid and Wieringo’s FF. So I won’t.

This reminds me–Marvel, what’s keeping the FANTASTIC FOUR BY WAID AND WIERINGO OMNIBUS?

Oh shit, Beland’s here. Run, Burgas! Run!

I think the reason people are so interested in getting an explanation for the “Mr. Fantastic” name is that it’s so incongruous with the names of the other three members. The Human Torch and the Invisible Woman’s names are obvious, and they explain how Ben Grimm came to choose “The Thing”. And then Reed has this name that could function for any superhero, with any power set and appearance. It’s one of those things that doesn’t do any damage by being left unexplained, but can add a nice touch of depth with the right explanation.

And it’s not really the same as Barry Allen’s bowtie, mainly because no one ever wondered why he wore one. People have publicly ruminated on how Reed decided on his name.

I remember reading something In an issue from the late 70′s/early 80′s where one writer had Reed explain why he used “Mr Fantastic” as an alias, something in the line of : “I don’t think I am fantastic, I just think it’s fantastic what I can DO!” or similar words. Rings a bell with anyone else?
So, where does that fit in with these other 2 examples? ;-)

Peace
DJ

Agreed with the Waiders here. Beland’s explanation is cute and romantic, but Waid’s is much more interesting and humanizing.

On a side note, will we get to see the results of this poll at some point? When I voted it said “Thanks for voting!” but doesn’t let me see the current tally.

I like them both and agree with a lot of other folks that they’re not all mutually exclusive, but I voted for Waid’s because it was such an interesting take and yet true to the character.

Is the name Mr. Fantastic problematic enough to you that you couldn’t do without some sort of in-story explanation?

Well, it’s not that I couldn’t do without it, but I like that they tackled the question, because it is a pretty arrogant-sounding name.

I don’t think Mister Fantastic needs an explanation because it is a dumb/embarassing name, but because it’s so generic. It doesn’t say anything about Reed’s abilities, though it alludes to his family role as patriarch of the team.

By the way, I prefer Waid, even though both are nice.

Reed was digitizing music in the 1960s?! He could’ve made a mint from that innovation alone!

Or did that story take place “10 year ago,” which would put it in the year 2000? In that case, what’s the big deal? Digitizing records is straightforward using a turntable with a computer input. And with the popularity of CDs and iTunes, it’s unnecessary.

P.S. I voted for Waid. I think his bit is one of those brilliant retcons that works. As opposed to the unbrilliant retcons that don’t work.

sgt pepper: Good one. But Beland and I are buds now!

I like Waid’s quite a bit. It does feel a LITTLE unnecessarily explainy like Dan said, but I think the exploration (and expansion) of Reed’s guilt over the accident makes him a lot more compelling.

They’re both fatuous and unnecessary.

I always laugh now when they make the Burgas jokes. I actually didn’t vote… or hit the button thingie.

Is my stuff syrupy…? Ummmm… yeah. But I’m cool with it. M&M’s aren’t complexed and intellectually stimulating… but I still eat them by the hand full. All I can say is, you get the chance to tell a story, you tell the one you want to do and you don’t try to be something you’re not. Because, for someone like me, the chances to actually write stories featuring characters I’ve read since I was 5 years old… they don’t come often.

And, truthfully, when you have that chance, you focus on enjoying every minute of it. From the pitch, to rewrites, to arguments over not being able to use the villain I wanted, to actually loving the villain I got to use. to hearing praise for a part of the story. To the moment I see those first rough sketches all the way through to the finished art. To getting my early copy a few days before it ships.

All of that. I savour every moment and it’s like sitting down for a dinner at the French Laundry. You’ll probably never be able to afford to eat at that place again, so you thoroughly love every minute of it.

And so part of it is understanding that, at best… I’m not going to satisfy everyone. It’s just not going to happen. Even when I talk about comics with friends, no one can ever bring up a story they’d do without having someone else tinker with it. Part of what I dig about comics is the fact that it’s like music or food. Everyone does a dish differently. So if you spend that incredible experience worrying if someone’s not going to like it… it would kill the experience.

I can honestly say this… if you don’t like my stuff, I’m just grateful that you gave it a shot. It’s tough to buy comics and you end up going “meh.” Been there. But if you dug it… I’m glad. I had a professional email me a great note praising the book and when you can have that fun connection, it’s a great lil’ moment. If I made you go “meh”… maybe next time. lol.

I think Waid’s a starting picture. Look at the workload he carries. Shit… my ADD would destroy me trying to do that many storylines all at the same time. I’m more like that left-handed specialist who’s on the team for a very specific audience. I know my audience and I can really zero in on what I like to put out there.

Annnnnyway. Just thought I’d blab a while. The fact that you guys are voting on this is cracking me the fuck up. I don’t experience this shit often. It’s so cool. lol

It makes sense that Waid’s is the real explanation, and Beland’s is the explanation that Reed tells Sue, so she doesn’t know the truth.

On a side note, will we get to see the results of this poll at some point?

Sure.

You meant starting “pitcher”, not “picture.” Also, I’ve never read your work, mostly because I don’t like a lot of contemporary comics. Looking at the above example, the writing actually seems pretty good, even though it rubs me the wrong way every time someone updates origins and includes modern technology (all these stories should take place in the same kind of “no-time” Batman:TAS takes place in). Also, Reed wouldn’t say “nerd.”

But it’s the art. Look at that. I am not buying an FF comic that looks like that. Also, I’ll now avoid any of your work because I have a personal prejudice against people who either “have” or claim to have ADD.

Now, given all of that, I really appreciate and dig this last post of yours. I’m even a little embarrassed for you. It seems a little defensive (I believe most of the people who posted here said they liked your work, just preferred this one Waid story a bit more) and the cursing at the end is a bit awkward. It’s really no big deal. It’s a silly little poll dealing with comics minutiae. Just relax, sir, keep up the good work, and please try to stay away from the “lols.”

“Waid’s explanation does not preclude Beland’s.”

Everybody keeps saying they don’t contradict each other — did you read them both?

Waid’s version: “Mr. Fantastic, does that sound like a name somebody really wants to call himself? No.”
less-good version: a story about why he wanted to call himself that.

The only way they’re not mutually exclusive is if he’s either lying to his infant daughter who can’t talk or his wife who doesn’t even remember the incident (that is, either one would be pointless).

No offense to Tom Beland; had I seen he was posting, I would’ve registered my vote more formally. Nothing against his story, just like Waid’s better.

Waid’s is ‘insulting’ to the character.

Beland’s, on the other hand, is pitch perfect.

Well, it’s not that I couldn’t do without it, but I like that they tackled the question, because it is a pretty arrogant-sounding name.

True, but there are other superhero names that are arrogant and braggy but no one cares:

Superman?
Wonder Woman?

I didn’t vote before but upon reading and rereading I had to vote for Waid’s. Beland’s is just totally wrong. It depicts how he wants Reed and Sue to be, not how they traditionally are. First it seems to place Reed and Sue too close in age together. I know to modern audiences the traditional age gap between Reed and Sue seems wrong, but I like it and think it’s a fundamental part of their relationship. I also don’t like “low self-esteem nerd” Reed with self-deprecating humor. This just seems like this is how either the author views himself socially and with women or pandering to the audience because this is how the author assumes the audience views themselves socially or with women. Reed in previous flashbacks to his youth was shown to be a brilliant scientist, best friends with the top jock in school, handsome, smugly self-confident, a combat hero, etc. I can’t reconcile it with this guy who seems embarrassed by his brains to the point he has to be self-deprecating, who views himself as being totally unworthy of a pretty girl, who never held his brains in high esteem until a girl compliments him on them, etc.

It seems like shoehorning established characters into a teen movie or romantic comedy cliche. Then again my only FF reading comes from Lee/Kirby, Byrne, Englehart and Simonson, so maybe Beland’s is more consistent with many of the other writers’ takes and retcons of Reed.

I have to echo “Mike’s” sentiments. The pathos of the situation seems appropriate. Waid has my vote.

Though, I appreciate Tom Beland’s response “because I wrote it… and I got paid’

That this entry has gotten more replies than any other post this week simultaneously amuses and depresses me.

Voting for Waid, because I choke up whenever I read that bit.
His doesn’t really explain where the name came from, just why it’s being used.

I had the same thought that Jeff Parker said….does that mean that I could be one of the best writers at Marvel if only I was a day or two ahead?

And Sean, they don’t contradict each other. He treasured that Sue called him that, like you would any pet name given to you by the person you loved…it doesn’t mean you use it as your name.

@ Stickler:

Your comment:
‘Also, I’ll now avoid any of your work because I have a personal prejudice against people who either “have” or claim to have ADD.’
is totally offensive. Why would you avoid people’s work just because they have low grade brain damage? Are you against people who have trouble with their pre-frontal lobe functioning properly? Do you think that by exposing yourself to those with a learning disability that you will catch it? Or would you like to marginalize a segment of the population that struggles with this condition for some reason?
i’m not sure what your point is & would love to see you elaborate on it.
DFTBA

You know something..? I didn’t say anything because I thought I must’ve been reading that one wrong, but it was an extremely dickish thing to say about ADD. How does me dealing with that affect, in any way, your reading experience..? I mentioned it because I’d have problems working on three series at one time, like Mark does. I don’t run from it and I’m not embarrassed of it. I also don’t “claim” to have it. I take Adderall for it.

I also suffer from chronic depression and I take Effexor for that as well… so you might as well run for the hills.

I’d also like to see you elaborate on why you admit to having a prejudice against people who have ADD. Because all I’m getting from that statement is “I’m a social idiot and I choose not to better myself.”

I voted Beland.

I agree that the two approaches can work harmoniously together logistically speaking, but I think that they stem from different interpretations of the character; or, at least, Beland’s corresponds more with my own personal reading of the character.

I see the choice between the two origins of the name Mr Fantastic as a choice between cynicism and sentimentality, and sentimentality wins out for me. I don’t really see Richards as an arrogant man. Reckless, adventurous and brilliant, but not arrogant. That’s Stark territory. I do see him as the head of Marvel’s first family, and that’s why the sentimental angle works for me a hell of a lot more.

It’s strange to me that people would say that the sombre take Waid has is more interesting and character defining. Maybe it produces that illusion BECAUSE it’s sombre, I dunno.

Here’s why they don’t contradict:

Reed *liked* the name “Mr Fantastic” when he heard Sue say it. He *choose* the name “Mr Fantastic” when he needed a name for a headline grabbing public persona. Beland’s flashback represents a more carefree time in his life when science was harmless and his biggest worry was that his best friend calls him a nerd, and it secretly upset him. Waid’s story features the modern Reed who is racked with guilt over an experiment gone wrong and does what needs to be done. Two different times in his life, two different perspectives on life.

Sure, I did a bit of tweak, and they weren’t written to go together, but ultimately Beland’s is the “where” of the name, and Waid’s is the “why” of the name. Now where’s my no-prize?

Brian, this is a great idea for a series of posts, but I think you’ll need to re-name it “Indignant Comic Book Fan Stereotype Reinforcement Theatre”.

@ Stickler: That’s great, we really needed another armchair psychologist on the Internet. I’d love to hear all of your well researched theories about how all those kinds really just need a good beating.

Also: Holy shit! Tom Beland! What was the villain that you originally wanted to use?

Yeah, yikes, Tom, sorry about the “anti-ADD” stuff.

What the heck, Stickler? That is one weird prejudice.

@ Dan Lokhort:

Great question! i always love to know the behind the scenes stuff of creating comics. Speaking of which, Brian, where is the next ‘Meta-message’ post? :-)

Regarding the ADD debate, two things to add. 1st, i have ADD symptoms & have had to deal with it for as long as i can remember. 2nd, as a licensed therapist, i have done some amount of research into the disorder. This doesn’t make my opinions any more correct, but i have some level of familiarity with ADD that others may not have.
Still waiting on Stickler…….
DFTBA

I’m also not fond of the characterization of Reed as insecure nerd. One of the reasons I disliked the Fantastic Four movie (at least the first one, I never got to see the sequence). Reed as the confident super-scientist is the driving force of the team’s adventures. You remove that by making Reed more passive and reactive, and they’re just a bunch of humans altered by fate that don’t know what to do with their powers.
.
Yes, there were times when Reed felt threatened by the more glamorous Namor putting the moves on Sue. But throughout all that, Reed has always been very comfortable with his own abilities and personality. Unlike Peter Parker or Bruce Banner, Reed never envied the jocks.

I like Waid’s explanation because it fits so well with other aspects of the FF. Historically, Reed’s sense of guilt was centered primarily around Ben, the one guy who couldn’t pass for normal. If it was just about fame, they could have just gone into show business. However, heroism suits Ben to a T. He was a military pilot prior to the accident. How many times has he voluntarily become The Thing again, when he was needed?

I think when you’re in love with someone, you never feel the other person is in your league. Lily is miles out of my league. And I also think that there’s the part of you that’s confident in your ability, but you also know how the public is going to perceive you. I’ve felt like that in comics on more than one occasion.

When “Spider-Man: Web of Romance” came out, that was my first real full-sized comic and it featured a character who literally gave me a break from dealing with my father dying at home of cancer. I was in 9th grade and every month, Spider-Man books gave me a short, but cherished break from what was going on in my life. So, when Wed of Romance shipped… I had this huge amount of pride that I told a story the way I totally wanted to do it. And at the same time, this huge weight of fear that the readers weren’t going to dig it the way I did. So I spend that day with equal amounts of confidence/non-confidence hitting me. I was the same with this FF book, because I knew it was the final Puerto Rico book and I wanted people to just have fun with it.

Originally I wanted to use the Red Ghost and his Super Apes. Then I wanted Dragon Man in it, because I sooooo dig that character. I think I also wanted to use Warhead (from Fantastic Four #136), but Red Ghost wasn’t available. We finally decided on MODOK and, to be honest, I’d never read a MODOK story before. So I had to go check some out and I thought “this dude is fucking… WEIRD). lol

I know I didn’t want to write Dr. Doom. I think a Dr. Doom story wouldn’t have worked well with the type of books we were trying to do. I wanted an old-school Johnny Quest type of vibe to them. If I were to do a Doom story, it would have to be something fucked-up evil. I’d love to write him… just not for this series.

Brian… I saw that comment and I was “huHHHHH?!” lol

Rene, I can respect that. I know that when I was writing dialogue for this book, I was consciously aware of how many times I was using the words “dear” and “darling.” When I was first reading FF, it seemed like every sentence they used ended in “dear” or “darling.” I almost decided to totally break the record for using it the most, but backed off. lol

But it’s the art. Look at that. I am not buying an FF comic that looks like that. Also, I’ll now avoid any of your work because I have a personal prejudice against people who either “have” or claim to have ADD.

I am only buying FF comics that look like that. And furthermore– hold on, let me check one of the sixteen tabs I’ve got open right n

I voted Waid, because I remember when I first read that issue, making a note of how that part did more to make Reed interesting than anything else I’d seen in my reading of FF. And that it has Reed acknowledging that “gee, I screwed up bad by going up in that spaceship and taking my friends with me”, which he didn’t seem to do, but it humanizes him to actually do it.

The Beland bit is amusing, and could work as something a guy in love would remember and throw back out there, hoping Sue would remember it and go “oh, he’s using the name I called him…” Remember, they weren’t married yet at the time of the accident (were they engaged, though? Can’t remember)

I enjoyed the issue of True Story Swear to God I picked up once. I’ve also got the Isla de la Muerte special, but haven’t read it yet.

I’m going to look for a book of Dylan lyrics and try to figure out what the next recurring bit Brian’s going to do here :)

I think this is a great idea for a column (boy are there contradictions in the world of comics… but to be fair perfectly covering every little detail of universes that are *thousands* of issues deep just isn’t possible.)

On the other hand, I’m mystified by this choice. Why choose between either origin? I don’t see anything contradictory between them. First Reed got called Mr. Fantastic by Sue which likely stuck in his memory, and THEN he screws up and turns his friends and himself into “freaks” so he decides to make up for it by making them celebrities, and decides the old name would work for his part. Much better than Elastic-Man or such would have.

And hey, Tom Beland himself posted here!! That’s why his fans (including me ;) ) love him so much for, he really cares. BTW thanks for giving my home country a boost in your comics, Tom. Hopefully El Vejigante will be much better used than poor White Tiger was.

False dichotomy. There’s no reason to reject either of these origins the name.

@Tom B – The only thing wrong with “dear” or “darling” is that they seem a little dated now. Most couples have more than one pet name for each other, but prefer one above the rest. I call my wife “Hun” – short for “Honey” – which is also dated and corny but you know that’s kinda what love is.

@Rene – You might prefer the second film. Movies have to show character development and growth within a very limited time; I felt that Rise of the Silver Surfer did that for Reed.

Hey Brian. How about doing one on why JJJ hates Spidey.

i call my wife Kermit.
Make of that what you will.
DFTBA

So when do we find out the voting results?

I just read some FF stuff (including the Waid/Weiringo issue, one of the best ever), and finally got to Isla de la Muerte. Funny stuff, Mr Beland, well done.

I read ANOTHER version of how Mr Fantastic got his name, but it wasn’t made as obvious as either of these. In the FF 40th Wedding Anniversary special, Karl Kesel wrote a story of Reed and Sue and highlights of their lives together, and we see a scene at the beginning before they go up in the spaceship, and Sue says something to the effect that “you take me to all these fantastic places, like the moon”. It’s clear from the actual story (and not my half-remembered synopsis) that Reed is filing this away and that’s why he comes up with Mr Fantastic when they land. So the Beland version has a precursor of sorts.

As many have said, these 2 don’t preclude each other, but I like the Waid version better because it gives Reed’s character some depth. He’s a genius, but he fucks up majorly by going into space with his friends without the proper shielding. And they would have been lab rats if he hadn’t made them into celebrities.

(actually, according to the Joe Casey/Chris Weston FF First Family mini, they WERE put into a scientific lab quarantine not long after they landed.)

Let’s choose the real origin of Bruce Wayne’s costume. Was it inspired by a trespassing bat or his dad’s old party suit?

Fun post, but I don’t think this is a situation where we have to choose, as many have noted. I was all ready to break down why not, but someone else with the same name beat me to it, so if nobody minds, I’m just going to pretend that was me. You should all continue to give credit to the Original Sam for his post and ideas, but just in my own mind I’m going to pretend I got there first.

While I voted for Waid’s explanation of the name, I gotta say that “Attaque del MODOK!” is a freaking cool title.

Both explanations could be true, they don’t really cancel each other out. That said, I see no need to explain the name at all. It seems cheesier than the name itself to try.

I picked Beland, but, seriously…

“Mr. Fantastic” sorta rhymes with “Man of Plastic” –

Lee was subconsciously admitting how he was plagiarizing Jack Cole.

`Nuff said!

I like kevrob’s idea. And let me throw in one more explanation: FF #358 (DeFalco/Ryan) was the big 30th anniversary issue, so they included some retro stuff like fact pages about the characters. On Reed’s page, he explains, “It wasn’t ego alone that led to my choice of name! Unbridled enthusiasm played a major part!” Again, this is easy enough to reconcile with the other explanations.

(That was one of the first FF issues I owned myself, and I loved every bit of it. One of my favourites is the bit on Ben’s fact page where he’s lifting a preposterous rock and saying “Everybody wants to know exactly how strong I am! Strong enuff!” And there are two extras well worth tracking down the issue for: Stan’s original FF #1 script, and a short DeFalco story about Dr. Doom’s “editor”, who retcons the official history of Latveria and Doom’s battles with the FF in ways that Doom finds more satisfying than the truth.)

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