Hello friends, this week at The Banana Stand it’s #Marvel75 week. As you may already know, this week we’ve all been writing articles about our favorite issues from the past 75 years of Marvel. I come into this a novice as far as Marvel goes, so while I’m sure there may be more important or significant issues out there, I decided to go with an issue that I really enjoyed and felt I could nominate honestly. In no way at all do I consider myself qualified to state what issues are “the best”, but this issue is one of my favorites that I’ve read, and I hope you enjoy reading about why I chose it.
FF #4 by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred is my pick because it’s a great showcase of fun comics; it’s full of both humor and heart, and to me those are two things that epitomize Marvel as a publisher. The issue begins with Alex Power delivering a powerful–pun very much intended–argument against the Fantastic Four’s penchant for intervening in matters that may, or may not always be their business. I find this interesting, because the same argument could be–and has been–made against the US and it’s role as the world’s moral and political enforcer ever since the end of WWII. When does the intervention cross the line from helping the less fortunate and powerless, to asserting one’s own views and beliefs upon others. It’s a very short scene, but I think it’s meaning goes deeper than just the FF vs. Doom; it’s a metaphor, and like many of Marvel’s most revered stories it uses super-hero dilemmas and adversaries to address real world concerns and problems.
The rest of the issue is all about fun. Jen Walters has a “just dinner with an old
flame friend” date, and the She-Hulk loving moloids enlist Bentley-23’s help to sabotage the evening. I have to admit my bias creeping in for this part a bit, because Bentley is a favorite of mine, and having nearly an entire issue devoted to his antics was so much fun to read. Fraction has a perfect handle on each of the kids as characters, not just plot devices, and their ability to carry an issue by themselves. Their interaction with each other is wonderful, and pretty much everything Mik, Turg, Tong, and Korr say gets a laugh out of me. From hypnotizing waiters, to using the “Fantastic Core” to set fire to ballrooms; every attempt to ruin the date blows up in the children’s faces and only serves to improve the evening for Jen and Wyatt. This classic Wylie E. Coyote-esque concept worked fantastically–again pun completely intended–and with each turn of the page I grew more and more enchanted by the issue.
I’ve been going on and on, and I’ve almost forgotten to mention the incredible artwork by Mike and Laura Allred. What can I say that hasn’t ALLRED-y (hah!) been said? This comics power-couple can do no wrong in my book, Mike is on my shortlist of all-time favorites, and no one colors him quite like Laura. It’s the perfect match for a book like this; the bright, bombastic colors, and confident, bold line-work go together so well. Allred’s sequencing is wonderful, he does have a pretty static style, so this skill becomes even more vital to make it work; and he’s got it in spades. A picture’s worth a thousand words, so they say, and with that in mind I’ve put some of my favorite examples throughout this article to speak for themselves.
With the move towards more “adult” oriented storytelling, and decompressed “epics” in comics, issues like this serve as the perfect reminder that comics are first and foremost meant to be entertaining. That is not to say that serious stories aren’t enjoyable, but there is just something about issues such as this one that I really love. Maybe it’s because they are universal, anyone could pick up this issue, even with minimal to no knowledge of the characters and enjoy it. Young and old alike, funny is funny, and that will never change. I think that is one thing that Marvel has always been about. While comics can be powerful and affecting, enjoyment is at the core of it all; if the readers aren’t at least smiling a few times each issue, then the stories can grow stale after a while. With an issue like FF #4, I could re-read it 100 times and still enjoy the humor; I can recommend it to anyone, of any age, and chances are they will at least see some value in it. That is no easy feat, and it’s one of the reasons this issue stuck out in my mind when I was tasked with picking some favorites.
There were some other issues I was close to discussing this week, like my personal favorite issue from Miller and Mazzucchelli’s Born Again run on Daredevil, #231 titled Saved, or Fantastic Four #605 by Jonathan Hickman and Ron Garney. Both of those issues are superb, and if you haven’t read them, I suggest you get to it. However, I knew I had more to say about this issue than those other two, and I felt like this issue could easily get lost in the shuffle amongst the “best ever” lists being compiled for the omnibus. I’m confident at least one–and probably a few–of Miller’s Daredevil issues will be included anyway, so for the purpose of this article and my ability to discuss an issue, I decided to go with my gut. So what do you think NBC! let me know in the comments, and as always thank you for reading!