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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 259: Fantastic Four #348

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Fantastic Four #348, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated January 1991. Enjoy!

The World's Most Commercialist Comic Magazine!

I wrote about Fantastic Four #347-349 before (man, I really have to fix the formatting on those older posts!), because they’re just plain fun comics (since then I’ve gotten the rest of the Simonson run, which are also excellent comics). This is the first of the middle issue, in which the “real” FF have been incapacitated and “Sue” – actually an alien posing as Sue – enlists Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Hulk, and Ghost Rider as the “replacement” Fantastic Four. If you wonder if those four characters starred in really high-selling comics in 1990 … well, give yourself a gold star, bunky!

One thing we get immediately from this first page is how much fun Simonson is having writing this. His narration doesn’t try to explain things, as he just implores readers to enjoy themselves. Before we even get to the caption boxes, we get the goofy title, which clues us in that we shouldn’t take things too seriously with this comic. Spider-Man, of course, tries to make a bit of a joke, but the Hulk is having none of it. Simonson’s deadpan “It was just a suggestion” is a perfect line of dialogue – we can almost imagine Peter pouting behind the mask.

Adams, who has sadly done very little comics work in his life (he’s been working in the industry for 27 years, and I wonder if he has actually done 27 total issues – or the pages that would fill 27 issues – in that time!), doesn’t get to cut loose as much as he does on other pages, but it’s still some nice work. He has that nicely designed Fantisticar flying right at us in Panel 1, moving nicely from the left toward the right and directing us at the credits box. The car flies from left to right in Panel 2, and I’m not sure if Simonson or Adams designed the sound effect, but it’s a weird one. It’s the noise the Fantisticar makes, I guess, but it seems like it’s someone howling. Adams elongates Spidey’s head just a bit, making his “eyes” longer and thinner, which gives him a more spider-like appearance. Adams might be the first to do this – he drew Spider-Man in Longshot before McFarlane got a hold of him, and it seems like that was the first time we really saw the more spidery Spidey that the Toddster made famous (Ditko made him lanky, sure, but he was more like a gawky teenager; I’m sure if someone knows an artist prior to Adams who did this, they can chime right in). Adams draws a slightly menacing Hulk in Panel 3 – he’s looking back at Spidey as if to shut him right up, and Buccellato’s coloring, with the light coming from the dashboard, makes him even scarier. This is a bland page when it comes to the colors, but that’s a nice panel right there.

Once again, I don’t know if Bill Oakley or Adams is responsible for the title, but I love the lettering. It has such a 1950s-Marvel-monster-comic feel to it, and I dig it!

I do wish Marvel and DC would occasionally do issues that don’t take themselves too seriously. I’ve wondered before why they don’t, and I think it’s a case of single issues being too expensive, so editors fear that people will rebel if they get a few issues in a row that don’t fit into the grand plot of whatever the writer is trying to do. We do get some comics that aren’t super-serious, but not many that are downright zany, which this three-issue arc is. Oh well. It’s not the greatest first page, but it’s certainly intriguing!

I have received a few more e-mails from people with some nifty first pages, but I still have room for more! E-mail me at gregorymburgas@gmail.com to tell me which first page you want to see! Do it for the kids!

Next: Remember in the 1990s when DC had all those good writers that they subsequently pissed off? Good times! Let’s check one of their comics out, shall we? This guy appears in the archives, so you can check him out there!

16 Comments

I can’t be certain if Adams has done 27 issues, but a bunch of the titles he has done have been double-sized issues. The first and last issues of the Longshot miniseries were double-sized and he did that double-sized New Mutants Special, and both of his Gumby specials were double-sized. Those titles alone make up 9 books that Adams did. He also did a Godzilla book plus his own Monkeyman and O’Brian 3-issue mini and his Creature from the Black Lagoon one-shot for the “Universal Monsters” series, so we’ve added another 5 books bringing his total to 14. Oh, and his Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem double-sized 1 shot. And a pair of Uncanny X-Men annuals. And, of course, the 3 issues he did in this FF story. So, we’re up to 20 issues, and given at least 8 of them were double-sized, I think he’s done “pages that would fill 27 issues” (especially when you consider how many pin-up pages he’s done–take each “pin-up” as 1 panel so that 6 pin-up pages count as 1 story page, and you’re probably talking about 20 issues there alone).

Some silly CBR blogger, September 6, 2012:

“I’m not going to get into how I don’t “get” this issue of Secret Six, in which Gail Simone drops our heroes into the nineteenth century and proceeds to kill them all, so let’s just check out the first page, shall we? Yes, even Bill Reed should check this out – how will he ever overcome his hatred of Jim Calafiore’s artwork if he doesn’t confront it? …

I don’t know how well this page works to get us to turn to the second one – it’s not all that amazing, but it does have a nice feeling of foreboding, and perhaps that’s enough. Of course, it leads into a head-scratching tale, but that’s just the way it is!”

Same silly CBR blogger, 9 days later:

“I do wish Marvel and DC would occasionally do issues that don’t take themselves too seriously. I’ve wondered before why they don’t, and I think it’s a case of single issues being too expensive, so editors fear that people will rebel if they get a few issues in a row that don’t fit into the grand plot of whatever the writer is trying to do. We do get some comics that aren’t super-serious, but not many that are downright zany, which this three-issue arc is. Oh well. It’s not the greatest first page, but it’s certainly intriguing!”

This make Becca’s head hurt — Becca go smash something NOW! Where Dan DiDio?

Uh oh. You broke Becca.

Maybe. I don’t know. Nice looking page, either way.

Have a good day.
G Morrow

Becca: I’m not sure what you’re complaining about. That issue of Secret Six took itself VERY seriously, as everyone dies in the end. Plus, it made no sense in the context of the series. It was a perfectly okay issue, but it’s not really what I’m talking about. Are you saying that Secret Six #24 is the kind of issue I claim I want in this post? It’s not even remotely the kind of issue I’m talking about. That being said, the only real objection I have to Secret Six #24 is that I still have no idea what Simone was doing. This arc of FF is perfectly plausible within the context of the series – sure, it’s a bit silly, but it makes perfect sense.

I don’t mean to be snarky, and I hope you don’t think I am, but I really don’t know what you’re objecting to. Please help!

My pleasure, Greg; I think the Six may be the rare comic where “everyone gets killed in the end” ISN’T a serious issue — it’s too absurdist, and I mean that in the Beckett/Ionesco sense. It’s a comic where Ragdoll can say that the only good thing about them is “we don’t know HOW to surrender” and have it be true – -and how ridiculous is it that they can’t?

How do you get to Hell? Go to a mall in Iowa (where the food court serves only British cuisine) and take the down elevator. About a third of the issues in the series involved something called the Get Out of Hell Free card. Evade an army of supervillains in first, an ice-cream truck (but only one ice cream for you, Scandal!), then a banshee casino owner’s limo. Absurdity is piled on top of absurdity, to an inevitably futile finish — “We’re the Secret Six. We’re always outnumbered, and we NEVER win.” It’s not that hard a stretch to see Deadshot and Catman as Didi and Gogo — but it’s VERY rare to see it in a comic.

So, to do a one-shot — the kind that you said you want companies to do, but they won’t because they’re too expensive if the perception is you don’t NEED to buy that issue — they take the biggest victory the Six had and stand it on its head. Instead of beating Junior and every hired thug she could find on the Gotham Bridge, this time the hired guns wipe them out — as probably should have happened, and certainly presages the finale, where every “hero” in the DCU pounds them into the dirt. It fits in because of its absurdity — how they wound up in the past is never explained, or if it’s even REALLY the Six. That story wouldn’t fit Simonson’s FF run — which looks like a very fun comic — but it totally fits with Simone’s run on the Six. In a Punch and Judy show, after all, is mindless violence presented as fun entertainment — but Beckett and the other absurdists returned to those images again and again for their sheer illogical impact.

But it also fits in because it reinforces the themes of Simone’s whole run — how this bizarre group clung to each other in spite of overwhelming odds and the sheer stupid futility of their lives. That you cared when they were wiped out is great — but, in the end, they really were what Helena Bertinelli called them — “those poor, damned losers.”

I hope I’m not coming across as lecturing, or smug, but in the context of its series, I think that #24 was exactly what you were asking for — a crazy one-shot that shines a different light on the series, but isn’t necessary to get to GET the series. And I shouldn’t have called the blog or you silly — that was rude of me. Sometimes I don’t know when to stop in running with a schtick, such as BeccaHulk speak. Dan DiDio is safe… probably.

I don’t know if that helps you, but that’s how it worked for me. Thanks for giving me the chance to explain.

Becca: Actually, that’s a great reading of the series as a whole. I don’t know if I agree with you – I’d certainly have to re-read the entire thing – but it’s a very cool way to see it. It does put issue #24 in a different light, certainly. Definitely food for thought.

I don’t mind if you call me silly. I certainly didn’t think you were being rude. :)

I don’t know why I don’t remember your five year old article on the three issues, but it was worth clicking back. I bought them at the time and loved them.

Adams always reminds me of one of his inspirations, Michael Golden. In fact, I keep misremembering and think it was Adams who drew the classic “Bat-Mite’s New York Adventure.”

Ha! I found this at Half Price Books, I thought it was the issue that introduced this “team”. So it was the previous one?

Acer: Yeah, issue #347 mostly stars the regular team, but at the end, “Sue” calls together the four heroes (after she incapacitates the FF) and tells them they need to stop the bad guys. So this is the first time they’re in action together, but they were brought together in issue #347.

“This arc of FF is perfectly plausible within the context of the series – sure, it’s a bit silly, but it makes perfect sense.”

Yes and no. Simonson’s brief run has one general overall storyline involving timetravel… except that his run started with an editorially mandated crossover with “Acts of Vengeance”, and there’s at least one fill-in issue in the middle not by him, and then there’s this story, which also feels editorially mandated as opposed to growing organically from anything else he’s doing.

But that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of it.

I can totally say that BeccaBlast was acting like a drillrod in her posts here, right? Right?

Then she has to go and write a really interesting bit about Secret Six and now I wanna read that series….

drillrod.

Just continuing your glorious collegiate tradition, Travis….

And everyone should read Secret Six — especially before voting in the Greatest Creator Runs poll ends! (Hoping I get bonus points from our Dread Lord Cronin for that shameless plug.)

Just promise not to tell everyone the big secret reveal about King Shark, OK?

Spoiler: He’s a shark.

buttler…..

You just had to go and ruin it, didn’t you? We are displeased…

King Shark was his sled.

King Shark was actually a prince with delusions of granduer.

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