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!
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 email@example.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!