A Post-Thanksgiving Two For One

My belly is full of turkey, I'm at home with my family, and I'm ignoring my copious amounts of homework.

What should I do?

Why, review comics of course! On Tuesday I told you I was going to pick up the new issues of both Invincible Iron Man and Fantastic Four, because I had been looking for a chance to jump on each and this week, both because they seemed like good points to jump on and I was going to be away from the shop with my pull list, seemed like a good opportunity for me to do just that.

Now, before we delve into the comics themselves, I should mention that I've never really been all that interested in either set of characters. My reasons for disliking Tony Stark are well documented, and I don't really want to go into them at this juncture (although you can find them here, if you're interested) and, for some reason, The Fantastic Four have always just rubbed me the wrong way. I think it's probably because I always sort of saw Reed as the driving force behind the team, and I don't like Reed very much, for many of the same reasons I don't like Tony.

With all of that said, there is no Reed Richards in this issue of Fantastic Four, just Ben, Johnny, Sue and the Richards children (who, incidentally, rub me the wrong way just like their father does). The way the issue starts, with Franklin relating the events to Sue, is both very clever, but also very limiting- Franklin is a capable young man, to be sure, but, if there was any real consequence to the events, you could be damn sure we would be seeing the Fantastic Four save the day rather than just hearing Franklin tell us about it. That feeling, that Jonathan Hickman may have outsmarted himself a little, is pretty consistent through out the whole issue. The writing is just a little too clever for its own good, as if Hickman knows something we're not always quite privy to- although this may be because I jumped onto the title here.

Still, the book isn't bad by any means- it's just not particularly noteworthy, either. That the art is inconsistent doesn't really help. I'm unsure where to go from here, with the Fantastic Four. I might pick up another or issue or two, just to see what the book is like from month to month, but I'm not sure.

Now, where Fantastic Four #573 seemed a little bit too clever, Invincible Iron Man #20 seemed just right. Fraction seems to be a master plotter in the old Claremont style, with putting bits and pieces in place that won't come to fruition for years- actually, kind of like the Tony Stark that he's writing. That Tony barely even makes an appearance in the book is pretty incredible, too. He's the catalyst that gets the ball rolling, sure, but other than that it's up to everybody else to get the job done, and that's only the pieces that he's got going on. Where does Madame Masque fit into all of this? Norman Osborn? How does this all fit into Siege? It's all very exciting.

It helps that the trade dress is so damn cool. I don't know if it's something that's new just for Iron Man or what, but I really dig it. Sometimes I think that designing comic book covers is something of a lost art, but that clearly isn't the case here. If I have one complaint, its that I'm not sure how I feel about Salvador Larroca's art. It's not bad, by any means, and he's an excellent storyteller, but it all just feels a little bit, I dunno, mushy.

Still, with only the one, relatively minor, complaint, it's hard for me to imagine not picking up this book for a while to come. Matt Fraction is one of my favorite writers for a reason and if anyone can make Tony Stark interesting, it's probably him.

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