Tagged: Doctor Doom

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Fantastic Flop – How I’d Reboot Marvel’s First Family

So I found myself with a bit of time to kill while my wife and mother-in-law went out and about for lunch. My week-old son and I decided it was time to enjoy a bit of cable TV goodness. A quick surf left with me few options. Food Network was showing yet-another cupcake show… USA was playing that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where his wife is a shrew and his mother annoys him, and TBS was on Tyler Perry’s Black People Watch Everything I Put Out, Not That It’s Good. And FX? Callooh-Callay! They had on the Fantastic Four movie from a few years back. Given that I was still sporting half a nerd-boner for the Super Bowl Avengers spot, and the recent web-release of The Amazing Spider-Man trailer, FF seemed like the perfect way to wet my whistle for a bit of comic goodness.

Granted, I’ve seen the movie a few times. Saw it opening weekend, and didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it either, but somehow, it was one of those guilty “Hey, if it’s on, it’s really not that bad is it?” pleasures. A few hours later, my favorite ladies returned to a house with both their boys rife with a case of the cranky pants. I’m pretty sure my son Bennett had pooped himself. I didn’t have a mess in my trousers, but I had a tear in my eye. Seems I crossed that threshold where the movie stopped being “worth” the free cable viewing, and slid right into “Good lord, people paid money for this crap?” zone.

I could spend the remainder of this column dissecting how putrid the FF movie ended up being. But it’s old-hat, right? So, why not make this a turn for the positive. I’d like to outline four things Marvel can do to reboot the familial franchise into something… dare I say… more fantastic.

1. Explore the emotional origins as well as the basic plot points. We all know the bullet points by now, don’t we? On an outer space adventure… they got hit by cosmic rays. And that moment changed forever… in the most fantastic ways. No need to fear, their here… just call the four! Sorry, it was a damn catchy theme song. Suffice to say, the rocket ride with Kirby dots isn’t ALL that the origin of the FF is. You have romance between Sue and Reed. You have Ben, the stalwart pilot. Johnny, the joker, and comic relief. While these points were hit on in the last iteration, we miss the history. Use flashbacks (ala Batman Begins) to enhance our emotional ties to the characters. It’s not a race to the whiz-bang-special effects, when you have solid characterization. And each of the Four present a solid opportunity for fun beats.

2. Ditch the “We’re learning to use our powers until it matters at the end” montage. Face it. What killed Green Lantern (OK, one of the things that killed it…) was the age-old power development plot line. A solid 45 minutes of the last FF movie spent time building the revolvers it would later shoot at the movie’s climax. It’s just not needed. When you cross over into the sci-fi, plausibility takes a backseat to adventure. If we took time to dissect the fact that Luke Skywalker was able to get a shot into a teeny hole on a battle station that decimated nearly all of his backup (who were all far more experienced fighter pilots)… we’d go mad. Once you accept that “Comic Rays” can turn one man into a walking pilot light, and another into silly putty, you don’t need to spend an hour back-peddling to make us “believe” they’ll know what to do when it’s clobbering time.

3. The big villain? Mole Man. Follow me down the rabbit hole if you will. Batman Begins took a venerable B-Lister in Ra’s Al Ghul as its first antagonist. It was a smart choice. As Nolan said in countless interviews, the villain suits the arc the hero takes across the movie. In Spider-Man 2 (easily the best of Raimi’s Marvel contributions), we got a brilliant update on a pretty mort-worthy villain. And because Peter was learning to have balance in his life during the course of the movie, Doc Oc was a perfect foil. The Fantastic Four have a pretty decent rogues gallery. It’s easy to want to jump immediately to Doom or Galactus. But the first in a franchise needn’t aim so high. In both cases, those villains would outshine the stars of the film. First and foremost, it’s the FF that people should be ooohing and aaahing over. With Mole Man you have an obvious foe who will test the Four and their ability to become this odd family unit of world-savers. The villain fits the arc, as it were. Plus, it gives us a chance to recreate that iconic first issue cover on the big screen. And you know that’d be the bee’s knees.

4. Casting. Most every comic book film lands an amazing cast… even if they don’t get utilized properly. I didn’t hate anyone in the last FF iteration per say, but let’s be honest – Ioan Gruffudd looked OK but lacked the cockiness-by-way-of-supreme-intelligence. Jessica Alba was there for eye-candy only. Chris Evans stole the show, Michael Chiklis looked the part, but had no Yancy Street swagger. Ole’ Blue Eyes needs have a definitive balance between boisterous banter and tragic pathos. Some of this could easily be the scripting, but let’s say I was a casting agent? I’d cast accordingly: Jon Hamm as Mr. Fantastic. Uma Thurman as Sue Storm. Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as Johnny Storm. And Brendan Fraser as Ben Grimm. Hamm can pull off “the smartest man in the room, with ease. Thurman is equally weighted when on screen (and can pull off shorter hair, and heroic). Paul can sling insults, and certainly could look the part… And Fraser, who I know most would say is a stretch, is built big, can pull off a New York accent, and has more potential than most nerds give him credit for. And as my Mole Man? Paul Giamatti. He’s damn good in everything.

So there you have it. I know a new FF movie is already in the works… here’s hoping someone over at Marvel is trolling my articles, and a few of my hopes and dreams gets swept into the pre-production fracas. What do you think? Voice your opinion below, true believers!

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: What I’m Thankful For

Folks, I apologize for missing two weeks ago. I know it caused you to cancel plans, cut ties with loved ones, cease working, and maybe join one of the many #OccupyComicMix rallies across America. Well, as one of the 14.3% here who write a column, I assure you it won’t happen again.

Since it’s that time where we start reflecting on where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished, and what we enjoyed… it figures I’d take a week off of crazy ranting to spread a little appreciation out there for the things in comics I’ve loved this year. What follows is an unordered, unfiltered, unadulterated list of things that tickled my nethers (comicly speaking). Tally ho, my friends.

FF — Those who follow me fully know I am more or less a DC dude. But I told myself this year I would consider more titles to pull from the House of Ideas. Well, thanks to the “Death” of Johnny Storm at the beginning of the year, it meant it was time for a restart of Marvel’s First Family. And thus FF, or the “Future Foundation” was launched shortly thereafter. Figuring it was as good a time as any to jump on board, I subscribed. Here we are, 11 issues later. I have to say, while the book doesn’t leap to the top of my pile when I’m in the can, every time I pick it up, I’m always happy to have done so. Jonathan Hickman is an intelligent writer who can craft one hell of a story. And art chores by Steve Epting, and currently Barry Kitson? The book is clean, Kirby inspired, sleek and sexy.

What I’m truly thankful for with this series is the way Hickman has given us an entire universe unto itself. FF removed from any crossover tie-ins, has been an in-book epic quest. With time travelers, political wars, cosmic disturbances, a heavy dose of Doom and comic relief by Spider-Man? There’s nothing this book hasn’t given me. With a little lull for an info dump at the mid-way point in the first arc past us, the book has continued to grow carefully. It’s been a beacon of true pulp for me thus far.

Gail Simone and Scott Snyder — All they touch glitters and is gold. In 2011, no two writers dominated my pull list more, nor disappointed less. Secret Six, Detective Comics, and now Batgirl, Firestorm, and Batman have all floated to the top of my must-read-pile week in and week out.

Gail’s writing is brilliant in its subtlety. Her books read quickly, but pack more nuance and depth of character than just about any other book on the shelves today. Where I once stood skeptical of Barbara Gordon returning to her lost mantle, I now live and die to read her exploits. Gail’s ability to let her characters talk about what’s actually going on in their mind instead of barking plot advancing banalities makes each comic of hers flow like a movie on paper. And when she falters, say with a weak and predictable initial villain in Batgirl? She makes up for it by forcing us to pay attention to the detailed character work opposite some of the more forced beats in the story. Her dialogue, a smattering of Kevin Smith without the “every character basically shares one hyper-intelligent voice” is never anything but a joy in print. A Simone book these days is akin to Chinese food. An hour after I’ve consumed it, I want more.

Scott Snyder is the yin to Gail’s yang. Get your mind out of the gutter. While I’ve only been privy to his bat-work, as it were, he’s been nothing if not flawless in delivery. His run on Detective Comics this year was, simply put, the best comic series I read. His characterization of Dick Grayson as Batman was pitch-perfect. The balance of his light hearted banter in the middle of a fight, combined with his police-inspired detective skills was written just the way I’d hoped. He wasn’t trying to be Bruce. He was filling the mantle in his own way. And when Snyder took the lead to Batman proper, he delivered once again, making sure we knew that his Bruce Wayne was assuredly not a gruffer Grayson. His plots bob and weave. Villains hide in plain sight, and get the best of his Batmen in ways we can agree with. And he’s done it all while keeping the majority of Batman’s classic rogues out of focus. His new creations fold into Gotham just as well, and don’t ever come across as knock-offs. Suffice to say? He took the ball Grant Morrison slam dunked with “Batman R.I.P.” and shot back-to-back three pointers.

Let’s Be Friends Again! and The Gutters — I don’t read many web comics, kids. But when I do? I read these. As playful jabs at the comic industry today, you can’t find two funnier takes. And sure, my very own studio did do a strip for The Gutters but we contributed for no better reason than the desire to be amongst greatness. The Gutters have poked and prodded everyone from Dan DiDio to the suits behind Dark Horse with a more than a wink and nod. And thanks in large part to their vast array of artists on file means that three times a week you get a beautiful web comic that delivers that “Friday” quality every strip.

Let’s Be Friends Again! is equally great. A bit more “Penny Arcade” with its core duo than the protagonist-less Gutters, LBFA is hilarity incarnate. Generally taking on just “the big two,” they’ve caused me to chortle out loud more than any strip has otherwise. Don’t just take my word for it. If Racist Galactus doesn’t make you laugh out loud? We can’t be friends.

Unshaven Comics — I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out some love for my brothers from other mothers. Matt Wright and Kyle Gnepper sacrifice their free time to cram into my basement every week to work on our little rags, and website. With them this year, I’ve traveled to Detroit, Kokomo, Fort Wayne, Chicago, Indianapolis and Columbus. With them, this year, I’ve met hundreds of people, and sold nearly 1000 books face to face! When I had the dream of working in comics, they stood along side me, and shared that dream. Although we’re only a blip on the blip riding on the hump of another blip on the radar of the industry… we’re still there, and I couldn’t think of two more talented people to do it with.

And last but not least… ComicMix, and You — For those who have followed me on this site now for three years, I simply can’t express how much I appreciate your continued support. Even when I piss you off with my insane hatred of things you like, or make you roll your eyes with my unending list of snarky retorts to industry news… you come back the next week. You comment. You share my writings with your friends. To have this opportunity every week, to write alongside literal living legends? It’s something I never thought would be possible. And yet, here I am 20 editorials later, forever grateful for the opportunity and the responsibility.

And with that, I bid you adieu. Don’t worry about all this sap this time around. I hear the Phoenix is coming back, and that makes me want to rant. Later days, kiddos. Later days.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

ComicMix Quick Picks (in Six) for December 17, 2009

ComicMix Quick Picks (in Six) for December 17, 2009

Six more windows to close… at this rate, I’ll be down to only two hundred open windows by the end of the year. Sigh…