I’m not an insurance company executive. I don’t even play one on TV. But if I were – or a probate judge or some similarly situated professional – and someone came to me to tell me that a Marvel hero, say Reed Richards, had died, my initial reaction would be, “Reed Richards? It’s an even-numbered week. That mean’s it’s Ben Grimm’s turn to die.”
In 2015, forces beyond their control killed the Fantastic Four. No, not the cosmic forces behind the latest version of Secret Wars. That was just the story where the FF died, not the forces that killed them. Said forces were higher ups at Marvel who decided if Fox wouldn’t give the film rights for the Fantastic Four back to Marvel Studios , the concept of Johnny owing any tax on the money he inherited is dubious at best. After all, if death isn’t certain in the Marvel Universe, why should taxes be?
While some states have what’s called an inheritance tax that require the legatee to pay taxes on what was inherited, New York and the federal government don’t have an inheritance tax. They have an estate tax. With an estate tax, the estate, not the legatee, pays the tax out of the estate proceeds. That means Reed’s estate, not Johnny, would have paid the taxes then Johnny would have inherited whatever was left after the estate tax was paid tax free.
Oh, Johnny will pay income taxes on his personal income from Reed’s various patents and holdings. But those will be due weeks or months down the road , not the same day he inherited.
Earlier I said I didn’t know what a business and opportunity tax was. If any of you know what it is, let me know. Not just because, even at this late stage in my life, I like learning new things, but for an even better reason. If the business and opportunity tax actually exists, it’s just one more reason for me to be happy I’m retired.
So it’s a ball boiler inside the Manhattan office building because although I’m pretty sure air conditioning existed it did not become ubiquitous until after the war that the good ol’ US of A was sliding into. What we’re looking at is an open window on an upper floor and somehow (are we pigeons?) we get inside and behold! Three middle-aged men, suit jackets draped over chairs, ties loosened, discussing the comic books they edit. They have had solid successes with characters a couple of young guys named Bill Everett and Carl Burgos brought in. The topic under discussion: more! More of Burgos’s Human Torch, of Everett’s Sub-Mariner: and yes, of course, more profits, and maybe this year’s Christmas bonus will be worth more than a subway token. Then one of the three (wise men?) has The Idea: Combine ‘em! Put them in the same issue…no, put ‘em in the same story.
And so they did, and a few months later your grandpa (great grandpa?) was sitting on a porch swing with his best gal reading about the meeting of Subby and The Torch, and being scolded by Best Gal for wasting time and money on those stupid funny books! (Okay, skeptics, can you prove that this stuff didn’t happen? Go ahead, Mr. Philosophy Dude, let’s see you prove a negative.)
Whatever the particulars, regardless of what did or did not actually occur, the Torch-Sub-Mariner stories went on sale and the few readable copies left are very early examples of what would later be a comic book staple, the team-up.
And then, the passing of years and The Justice Society of America, the Marvel Family, and a plethora of other costumed teams, until the arrival of the X-Men just abut the time when comics as a whole were getting a mighty, second wind and emerging from a decade-long obscurity, victims of the Eisenhower era witch hunts.
Comics were back!
And movies were following the trail they blazed. After a few single-hero flicks, the movies found the X-Men and a billion dollar franchise was born. Hold it! – not exactly born: rather, evolved from earlier existence as comic book characters. Fortunes were, and are, being made. More of them to come.
And the fossil who goes by my name can kick back and realize that the Netflix video enterprise, a first cousin to the movies mentioned above, is a super-group comprised entirely of character I’ve worked on. Yep, The Defenders, starring Iron Fist and Power Man, who were partners in their comic book home, and Daredevil and Patsy Walker.
Patsy made the giant leap from comics about post-teens to grim superheroic private eye Jessica Jones. Patsy’s light and bright escapades were closely related to other Marvel stuff like Millie the Model and if you didn’t know that, well, now you do.
As of this writing, I’ve only seen two of the Defenders programs and so have not earned the right to have an opinion about the whole series.
Catch me next week. Maybe by then I’ll have earned the aforementioned figured out the subject of the preceding 517 words.
There you are, somewhen on the far side of one of these bedeviling time gaps, at least four days in the future from when I’m typing this and – I don’t really know – you just might be squirming with anticipation because in a few hours or less – your hours – you’ll be watching the final part of the season’s megaevent, the four-part television crossover featuring Supergirl, The Flash, Green Arrow and the members of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Is your breath taken?
Me, I’m sitting here in Monday afternoon, not knowing what the crossover is even about. (Of course, it’ll be in some way about the heroes mentioned in the previous 81 word! paragraph.)
So, again, tv is following behind comic books. Not a knock on the video guys: comics got there first because high speed printing was invented before video transmission – the first steam driven press debuted way back in 1825 and there’s your trivia of the day – and although television technology and print technology are vastly different, they are both what Stephen King calls story delivery systems and in that capacity deal with some of the same problems.
Among those problems: making lots of money from fictional characters. One answer occurred to mass audience storytellers when very few people had ever seen a television set and comics were in their infancy: have characters from one popular publication appear in another publication. A publisher could hope that the crossover stunt would expose readers of one magazine to the other magazine and the newbies would become regulars. So went the hope.
The ancestors of today’s two biggest comics companies were the first publishers to do the big crossover thing. (I’ll call that a coincidence if you will.) What became DC comics gave us All-Star Comics, which featured the company’s most popular heroes, and some maybe not so popular, joining together to solve various humdingers of crises and what became Marvel Comics put their Submariner in the same adventure with their Human Torch. All this in 1940, just before World War Two.
And so crossovers joined comics publishing’s tool kit and they’ve been appearing ever since.
In 1927 – yeah, that early – television was presented to the world but it took another 20 years, give or take, for the tube to start being a household fixture. Television, like comics before it, had to deliver exciting entertainment every week using the same set of characters while being careful not to kill them. Like comics. I’d like to say that it was inevitable that screen drama would start crossing over, especially since a lot of the material began as comics stories. But what do I know from inevitable? It happened and thus it’s reality and reality always trumps everything else.
You may have seen the trailer for the new Fantastic Four movie, due from Fox this coming August. Seeing as how you’re reading this on ComicMix, you probably have.
You may be familiar with all the rumors about how Marvel is pissed off at 20th Century Fox because the movie violates, well, everything fantastic about the Fantastic Four.
At the very least, it seems to ignore much of the origin and the history of the subject material. Anyway, many people believe that’s the reason Marvel cancelled their Fantastic Four monthly, the flagship and cornerstone of the Marvel Universe. This may be true, as there’s a lot of bad blood sloshing around this deal. Not to mention a lot of bad movies as well.
Here’s the curious part.
You may have been to your friendly neighborhood comics shop today and picked up a copy of the new Marvel Previews… their promotional comic that tells us what they’re going to publish in a couple months. If you’ve seen the trailer and you’re familiar with the conflict and you’ve seen Previews, you just might be confused by the cover for Silk #4, pictured to the left.
Your confusion would be well-founded. Right there on the cover is Johnny Storm, of the Fantastic Four, sharing a meal with Silk. If you’re not confused, take a look at Johnny’s costume.
You’ll note that the “4” on his chest is pretty much the one in the new movie. It’s the same as the one in the final issues of the Fantastic Four monthly, except for the logo on Mr. Fantastic’s polo shirt. But with the monthly cancelled, if Marvel wanted to distance itself from the movie this would be a great time to revert to any of the previous logos – or create a new one.
Hell, if I were really pissed, I’d spell out the word across Johnny’s chest!
The logo for Fox’s new movie is depicted at the top of this column, unless I broke the Internet once again. That movie “4” is just about the same “4” we see on the cover of Silk #4, to be released this coming May 14th.
If you’re not confused, let me explain why I am. If Marvel hates the new FF movie (or the FF movie deal) to the point of cancelling their flagship title… why does the return of the Human Torch to Marvel’s cover stock promote the Fantastic Four movie?
I’ve always taken this story with a grain of salt. Given my somewhat skeptical nature, that grain of salt usually is big enough to make the Morton Salt girl wince. But people have looked into this, and I’ve asked a couple friends who labor in the Mouse House of Ideas. I had grown to accept this story and have even tagged Marvel’s response as petty. Not horrible, just petty.
And now they’ve changed the Fantastic Four uniform to comply – imitate, actually – that worn in the upcoming movie. The one they ostensibly hate.
Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice famously said.
Then again, the answer might be as simple as this: why let a multi-million dollar feud get in the way of making some money?
The trial shown in Fantastic Four v 5 # 5 started because some creatures escaped from the pocket universe created by Franklin Richards and wreaked havoc on Manhattan. A bunch of citizens upon whom havoc had been wreaked sued the Fantastic Four in a class-action suit. Had that been the extent of the trial, I would have had no problems. But somehow the trial morphed into something so unrecognizable that I became gobsmacked and I found myself spouting British slang instead of simple American words like nonplussed or flabbergasted.
And I found myself unable to understand what happened in the comic.
What I do know – what I was able to understand – was that what had been a simple class-action suit for damages had become a “hastily formed” “special judicial inquiry.” What kind of “special judicial inquiry?” I don’t know. It can’t be a civil case, because opposing counsel was prosecutor Aiden Toliver and prosecutors appear in criminal trials.
In civil trials you have plaintiffs and defendants v. In criminal trials you have prosecutors and defendants. If prosecutor Toliver is the FF’s opposing counsel, it would appear that the civil class-action case had become a criminal case.
How? A civil case can’t just become a criminal case, they’re entirely different types of cases with entirely different burdens of proof. Remember O.J. was tried in a criminal case for murder and found not guilty because the prosecution couldn’t prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? Remember how he was then sued in a civil court for wrongful death where the jury found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he had committed the murders? His criminal case didn’t suddenly become a civil case. He had two trials. Trials in the plural.
I suppose that while the class-action lawsuit against the FF was being prepared, some party became alerted to the FF’s history and brought criminal charges against them. But that would have been a separate case and a separate trial, like O.J.’s trials – trials plural – were. So what happened to the civil case? It didn’t just become the criminal case, as the story implies.
Also the FF’s trial can’t be a criminal case. In the United States, the Fifth Amendment absolutely forbids the prosecution from calling the defendants as witnesses in its case in chief. Yet Prosecutor Toliver called Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Sue Richards, Johnny Storm, Reed Richards again, and then Sue Richards again as prosecution witnesses. He called more defendants than a bailiff in the arraignment room. So it must be a civil case for damages not a criminal case.
Except, in the end the judges presiding over the trial – yes, judges, there were clearly three of them sitting at the bench – didn’t award any civil damages that I saw. Instead, the judges evicted the FF from the Baxter Building and took custody of the Richards’ children and the other children of the Future Foundation and put them in the care of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Only I don’t see how that could have happened. If the case was a civil damages suit, the trial court wouldn’t have had jurisdiction over the question child custody. That would have been the purview of Family Court, and that court wasn’t involved in the case at all, that I could see.
Now, I suppose forfeiture of the FF’s custodial rights and eviction from their home could have been conditions of probation http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/probation. But that would mean that the case was a criminal case, that the FF was convicted, and that they were put on probation. That might work. (Are you starting to feel like you’re watching a Tennis match here?)
Yes, a criminal case. The case couldn’t have been a civil case, because there were three judges. In the United States, when a civil trial waives a jury and tries the case to the judge, the judge who hears the case is the judge presiding over the trial. That’s judge in the singular. Civil trials don’t normally have three-judge panels.
Of course, criminal trials don’t even have three-judge panels for the most part either, unless it’s a death penalty case. This wasn’t a death penalty case. At the end of the day, the FF was evicted from the Baxter Building, but they weren’t relocated to Death Row. Or even to Def Jam.
Wait, a criminal case with a three-judge panel. And the cover copy said “Accused: Crimes Against Humanity!” Was the FF being tried in the International Criminal Court, or as it’s more commonly called the World Court? Maybe. The World Court does conduct its criminal trials before a three-judge panel with a prosecutor representing the plaintiffs.
But, if it was the World Court, then why was the trial being held in “Manhattan’s central courthouse,” and not the World Court building in The Hague? Possibly, because Article 3 v of the Rome Statute, the multi-national treaty which created the World Court, says that, “The Court may sit elsewhere, whenever it considers it desirable, as provided in this Statute.” Most of the witnesses – which mostly seemed to be the FF itself – lived in New York. I could see the World Court relocating this trial to New York as being more convenient to the participants.
That’s it then, the FF was being tried for crimes against humanity in the World Court. Crimes such as, oh what heinous acts did Prosecutor Toliver ask them about? Minor physical damage caused by the Invisible Woman. Property damage caused by The Thing. Property damage caused by the Torch. Property damage caused by fighting the Hulk in Manhattan. Not helping S.H.I.E.L.D. or some other agency trap Namor so he could be tried for war crimes. Not sharing what they knew about the Inhumans with any branch of national security. Letting Reed and Sue’s daughter Valeria live with that known terrorist Dr. Doom. Misplacing the Ultimate Nullifier. Letting Annihilus and Blastaar and other such nasties come out of the Negative Zone portal to attack New York City. Sue causing a riot and destruction in New York after she had been brainwashed by the Hate-Monger and adopted the name Malice. Oh yes, and Ben Grimm, in a fit of pique, destroying the taxi cab of one Mr. Dupois and the FF’s lawyers failed to make reparations in a timely manner.
So that, property damage and negligence is how prosecutor Toliver definescrimes against humanity. Know how Rome Statute defines it? “[P]articularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of human beings.” Crimes against humanity are also the acts of government, not men. Okay, men do the acts, but do so either as part of a government policy or with the approval of the government. Crimes against humanity include such things as murder, massacres, extermination, human experimentation, slavery, cannibalism, torture, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts. They don’t include forgetting to throw the dead bolt on the Negative Zone hatch.
That being the case, the case wasn’t a trial in the World Court for crimes against humanity, either.
Acting skill – even paired with leading-man looks and undeniable charisma – is not enough to get you cast in a big-budget spy thriller or a Marvel Comics franchise. “A decade or so ago, Stallone and Van Damme and Schwarzenegger were the action stars,” says Deborah Snyder, who produces husband Zack Snyder’s films: 300, Man of Steel, the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie. “Now we expect actors who aren’t action stars to transform themselves. And we expect them to be big and powerful and commanding.”
Michael B. Jordan, who got his break as The Wire’s sensitive kid Wallace and raised his profile in last year’s Fruitvale Station, knows he needs to be able to bulk up on command if he wants to break into the A-list. “You’ve gotta be ready to take off your shirt,” he says, and he will as the Human Torch in next year’s Fantastic Four movie. “They want to blow you up and put you in a superhero action film. Being fit is so important. . . . The bar has been raised.” …
Gunnar Peterson, the trainer who for decades has maintained the physiques of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and others, agrees. “For male action heroes,” he says, “it’s an arms race now.”
The fall of the Marvel Universe’s first family continues this April in FANTASTIC FOUR #3 – from the explosive creative team of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk! The Fantastic Four have saved Manhattan from an inter-dimensional invasion – but the cost was severe. What was once a team of four has been reduced to three. Is this the end of the Human Torch? Plus – don’t miss the introduction of a stronger, even deadlier WRECKING CREW! But with the team down one member, will the Fantastic Four be strong enough to stop them? Fans will not want to miss FANTASTIC FOUR #3 this April!
FANTASTIC FOUR #3 (FEB140733)
Written by JAMES ROBINSON
Art by LEONARD KIRK
Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR.
Variant Cover by JG JONES (FEB140734)
There has been a lot of hullabaloo over the casting of Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle, Fruitvale Station, The Wire, Parenthood) as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, in the Fantastic Four movie scheduled for release in 2015.
There are parts of the Internet that have predictably gone nuts.
While we believe that there could be some concerns as to revised character motivation based on changing the race of the character, our general attitude is: calm the %$#@! down.
We have survived this:
It cannot possibly be worse.
*Until we actually see, y’know, footage or something.
In the years I’ve been writing these rants I don’t think I’ve ever written about love.
I’ve written about sex many times but not love. I’ve always wanted to write about love but somehow never got around to it. Funny-perhaps I thought love and sex was the same thing.
Is that why I have not written about love? Have I, all these years simply assumed that love and sex were one?
Anybody that assumes sex is love I’m willing to bet has an appointment every week that begins with being asked about their relationship with their mother or father and ends with being told their hour is up.
You may love sex but sex is not love. Trust me on this; I’m a doctor.
I’ve been in love. I suck at it. I’ve had sex. I’m pretty good at that.
How good? I’ve heard, ‘you’re my daddy’ so often someone reported me to social services who showed up at my door and asked where all my children were.
Pine Valley, in case anyone’s wondering.
I think my problem is I’m way too much of a realist. I can’t pretend something could be just because I want it to be. Then again maybe I’m too much of a romantic, I’ve often pretended something that isn’t could be.
Or maybe I’m just a motherfucking idiot clearly the above statement is a blatant contradiction and sadly its also true. I wish I would just pick a side.
Why don’t I have a weekly appointment that begins with being asked about my mother? Because someone talking about my mother is grounds for me putting my foot up that someone’s ass. Paying someone who’s going to end up with my foot in their ass seems mighty ‘crazy white people shit’ to me.
Translation: Black men don’t go to shrinks.
Damn I’m a mess.
But-if I know I’m a mess am I really a mess? If you are aware you are crazy or you really? If I’m aware that I can’t love someone from a distance why do I think I can make a long distance relationship work? How can I be black and love the music of Florence Henderson.
I freely admit I love the music of Mrs. Brady and don’t give a shit who knows it. The great thing about loving her music is I don’t have to think rather or not her music is going to fuck a bunch of guys and them blame me.
Yeah- that happened to me once, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It’s times like that when you turn to the things you love that cannot hurt you, things that cannot break your heart.
Like the music of Florence Henderson or comic books. Those things can never hurt you.
A funny thing happened to me the other day-my heart was broken. Broken by those I consider my extended family, fellow comic book fans.
The racism brandished on-line by some in comic fandom from the second a Black actor was cast, as Johnny Storm was agonizing for me.
It’s agonizing for all Black fandom and I dare say most comic fans of any color.
Yeah-I continue to be stupid and think people in comics, fan and professional are above this type of hatred.
I believe in my heart that the vast majority in our shared community is not what I’ve read on-line or saw in news reports.
“I think it would be tricky to have one member of the Storm family black and one white. Is he adopted? I don’t know how you would play that.”
– Mark Millar
“ This speech is my recital, I think it’s very vitalTo rock (a rhyme), that’s right (on time)
It’s Tricky is the title, here we go…”
“Tyrone Cash should be named Super Nigga.”
– Michael Davis
Mark Millar is talking about the possibility the next Fantastic Four will feature a African American in the role of the Human Touch. RUN-DMC is what I think is a pretty clever answer to Mr. Millar’s assumption, namely that it would be tricky but – I think it would be right on time.
Damn – I is clever.
My quote? That’s just another dig at what I think is one of the most stereotypical backwards thinking black characters ever created in comics and it plays into (really) what I’m about to write here.
People are losing their minds over long running rumor that Michael B. Jordan is in the running to play the Human Torch in the Josh Trank Fantastic Four reboot.
I’d like to think that most of the comic book fans are losing their minds because it’s just not true to the source materials. I’m sure if Lee and Kirby sat down and created the Jackson 5 instead of the Fantastic Four there would be some people a wee bit upset if Justin Timberlake played Michael in the movie.
Hell, Timberlake tried to be Michael in real life…err, no.
Like I said. I’d like to think most of the fan outrage is because a Black Torch is not true to the comic.
The sad reality is we all know some of this is racist. There are plenty of racist dicks out there that have or will lose their racist minds at the thought of the Human Torch being played by a black person. But those racists are barking up the wrong tree.
It’s not the Human Torch that they should be afraid of being black. It’s Johnny Storm.
The Human Torch is like any other superhero. When they are in superhero mode it’s about two things: find the bad guy, and beat the bad guy.
It’s the alter ego that defines the character and the Torch’s alter ego is none other than Marvel comic’s original pussy chaser himself, Johnny Storm.
Johnny Storm is all about that ass.
Johnny Storm is like any other male star when they have that kind celebrity. It’s also about two things, find that ass and tap that ass.
It’s not “flame on” the racists should be afraid of, it’s ”where the white women at.”
I assume that most black people are OK with the possibility of a Black Human Torch. I wouldn’t know for sure because contrary to what a lot of white people think we all don’t know each other and on that note the next mofo that rolls up to me and asks if I know Ray Ray is going to get pimp sla…wait sec…I do know Ray Ray.
Some people are getting slick with the way they protest that possibility of Johnny Storm being portrayed by a black guy. And a “possibility” is all it is now, as my boy David Walker says, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Someone posed this question on Facebook, what if a white guy played The Black Panther or Luke Cage?
Experiencing being black (Cage in America, Panther as an African king) to a large degree defines who those characters are. How they relate to the world and how the world relates to them is at least partially driven by their color, fair or not.
The dynamic totally changes if they aren’t black, while the Torch, like Perry White in Man of Steel or Kingpin in Daredevil isn’t impacted by the race of the actor, because the race of those characters doesn’t really play a part in defining the character.
That said, when Will Smith was cast as James West in Wild Wild West, I was against that because I had trouble buying a black man as a top level secret agent in the 1860s, because once again, race impacts that character and there was no way at that point in time that the US government was ready to see a black man rolling like that, no matter how charming Will Smith might be. Bottom line, I just want to see a good comic book movie that respects spirit of the source material and the intelligence of the audience.
– Mike Stradford
I could not have said it better myself.
Mike, unlike me, is cool as ice when he breaks down someone’s argument. Just once I wish my boy would add a little Davis to his damn near perfect logic.
Like this at the end of his response he writes the following:
B L A M!
That’s the sound of me dropping the mike son!
Now back to Mr. Millar’s quote:
“I think it would be tricky to have one member of the Storm family black and one white. Is he adopted? I don’t know how you would play that.”
There’s a couple of ways to play that Mark, ol’ buddy. One way is that instead of white people adopting a black child thus saving him from becoming a drug dealer like, oh, I don’t know, Tyrone Cash.
You remember Tyrone Cash? You should you, created him. He was the black scientist that gains the power of the Hulk, retains his intellect and decides to become a drug dealer.
Oh yeah, that Tyrone Cash – who I’m sure knows Ray Ray, BTW.
Anywho, instead of him being adopted, get this!!! Ready? Both Johnny and Sue are black!
Didn’t think of that, eh?
Hell, let’s go with that one. Both he and Sue are Black and their father is…wait for it…wait for it…
Victor Von Doom!
He’s no longer Dr. Doom, he’s a MD. But that stands for Mac Daddy Doom and he’s a… drug dealer!
That’s all I have, not great but it’s all I could come up with, I ran out of crack so my brain stopped working. Luckily I know Ray Ray and he knows Tyrone Cash so I’m good to go.