Fantastic Four 1234 Retro Review

2001 is retro in blog terms, right? Since everyone has the attention span of a fruit fly on PCP who plays a lot of Halo?

Yeah, so, before I became a alcolyte of the God of All Comics, I was merely a wet behind the ears, back in to comics after pubescence twentysomething novice to his work. I was really enjoying his Marvel stuff, like this, New X-Men, Marvel Boy, New X-Men, that Nick Fury story he did in some anthology that became the Filth I think, and also New X-Men.

But the real beginning of my awareness of my project became before that. Before that stray issue of the aforementioned Morrison/Quitely/Mutant Franchise Joint blew my mind and got me hooked back on this bastard medium again. It was when I was starting to think "Hey, I'm out of high school now, in my sexual prime, beginning the first steps in to adulthood; I should read comics again!" That's when I first heard of this comic. Or at least Morrison's quote in relation to it that showed up I think everywhere on the internet at once:

I've worked out this whole Freudian shit. The incest thing in The Fantastic Four. What you've got is a family. There's Reed and Sue, the Mom and Dad. Johnny's the big brother and Ben's the little crazy baby. But in that situation you've got Johnny and Sue -- brother and sister! So there's an incest thing that the Fantastic Four hides.

I looked at it and said, okay, Sue actually wants to fuck Johnny and Johnny wants to fuck Sue. So how do you do that? They make Namor, the Sub-Mariner who is always a linked pair with Johnny. The Human Torch and the Sub Mariner have always been together since the '40s. Namor is the dark, seedy, watery, wet, dirty side of it. And Johnny's bright, mercurial. So he doesn't fuck his sister -- but Namor does.

So, yeah, before I'd even been able to ignore Freud in Psych 101? That kinda freaked me out. By time this came out, I'd either forgotten to be outraged by the idea of incestual subtext in an FF comic or didn't care; I know that once the trade was out, I had drunk deeply of the Scottish Flavor Aid of Doom and was in whole hog on Grant's work, although I was like two years away from reading all of Animal Man in like a week, i.e. discovering Amazon and ebay.

I've re-read this thin volume more than any of Morrison's other work, actually, although thin's the operative word. It's like the third best thing he wrote for Marvel at best, so it's really far down the line as far as the greatest hits of his bibliography. But hey, it has Jae Lee artwork before Stephen King's ghostwriters bought his ass, I really like some parts of it a whole lot, and I can read the whole thing during an average bowel movement (well, for me; I eat a lot of meat).

I still like it. It's a little too dreary to be my favorite FF story, especially now that I've read the tippy top best stuff Stan and Jack did. I don't know if it's all that unrequited incest or Ben Grimm getting screwed even worse than usual, but it's all kinda dour for an FF story. Well, until the end, when Reed emerges from his super genius room and he and Dr. Doom play the most awesome game of chess ever. That's pretty fun.

The climax also helps make this my favorite Sue Storm story from a very, very short list. When you can't really blame Jessica Alba for her vapid performances in the two movies, you haven't really cared much for the character, I think. But here, Sue's really the glue, holding together when Ben's in pieces, Johnny's knocked out, and Reed's ignoring her, even when Namor shows up for a booty call. I mean, he was busy playing telepathic human chess with Dr. Doom, but still; at least write a note, man!

At any rate, Sue figures out that Doom's got a teleporter macguffin thing, and after going through it and helping Ben become his ever lovin' rocky organe self again, she decides to give ol' Victor a piece of her mind. By just totally destroying all pretention of nobility he could hope to cling to. (Another cool, Morrison-y bit that must be mentioned; when Sue's invisible in this comic, Lee just doesn't draw her.) It's like Midnighter against the Evil Avengers in Millar's first Authority arc, or Cody Rhodes dressing down Hacksaw Duggan; she demolished the dude without laying a finger on him. Well, I mean, she brains him with a candelabra and threatens to blow up his brain, but still.

People who are really too fond of Dr. Doom tend to not care for this. But those people are really too fond of Dr. Doom. Like, way too much. Much like people who later freaked out over Morrison writing Magneto as a drug addicted terrorist, I think they're extracting too much nobility out of guys who are basically Super Hitler with softer edges. I mean, I like that Magneto can be a pretty complex, sympathetic guy, but when push comes to shove he wants to enslave humanity. I've always found the "Doom's a failed hero" thing less interesting, but that could because I've always been more of an X-Men guy, and I think being in a concentration camp trumps being a regular opressed gypsy in a vague, undefined Eastern European country.

So, yeah, that FF1234; if all the incest goes over your head like it does mine, it's a solid story for Marvel's first family. Not their or Morrison's best, but not a bad investment if you can get it reasonably cheap, I'd say.

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