On the Panel

Jun 3, 2014 | Posted by in Comics

Format change again, sorry I’m trying to settle I promise. Now I’m going to be taking a small number of comics in a given week that I actually have something to say about, this might be as little as one or two but in theory the content should be a bit richer. Sadly I don’t have the time to write as much as I’d like to about everything but I’m doing my best.

Fantastic 4 (2014) #5

Having superheroes on trial is nothing new, every now and again writers decide to mix it up by having super powered people answer for their actions in the form of legal proceedings. It is good to get a more grounded perspective on how the public is affected by the crazy world these people inhabit but the quality of the execution can vary.

I’m happy to say that the execution of this particular story is absolutely spot on. The examples used date back to the very beginning of the career of these characters. I especially liked the use of early events such as Reed summoning the team with the focus placed on the collateral damage caused by them trying to get around. For instance Sue unwittingly caused a doorman to be admitted to hospital with chest pains with the simple harmless act of turning invisible. I really liked that the old drawings were used to illustrate these flashbacks, harkening back to the style of these old comics. Isn’t nostalgia grand?

Most of the issue cycles through examples of the damage caused by the Fantastic Four -directly or indirectly- over the past unspecified number of years. The issue skillfully focuses on the team but also never forgets to mention the cost of the damage wrought by them defending the city from the likes of The Hulk. The prosecution even goes as far to stand up for the rampaging Hulk to help drag their name through the mud. The reminders certainly worked as it made me think about their previous adventures and made me consider how I might feel as a bystander in this world. Naturally the prosecution’s job is to make them look but but She-Hulk as their defence is unable to gain any ground here.

As someone who likes these characters I was quite shocked how brutal the prosecution’s case was but I was even more shocked that I could see that he has a strong case from a certain point of view. Naturally super powered battles cause a lot of damage because of the power levels involved but by that token every super hero should be on trial, including The Avengers. The Fantastic Four do a lot more good than harm but their missteps can’t be ignored, unleashing beings from the Negative Zone being just one of these. Ben Grimm’s temper has caused some unwanted damage over the years and Johnny Storm has probably set some fairly large accidental blazes on his travels.

I’m not entirely sure there’s a definitive answer to where the blame lies but I really liked how it was explored here, the emotional toll this character assassination was taking on the team was evident throughout and the buildup was perfect. I really liked Sue’s reaction being full of regret that they left most of this to the lawyers and didn’t take any active responsibility for what had been happening. Her tears because of her children and the risk of losing them was a genuinely touching moment.

Overall, this was a great issue that really reminded me of why I love Marvel’s first family. It was great to get a portrait of where they’ve been in the past and how that has all fed into where they are now, the characters have a rich history and it’s fascinating to see much of it thrown in here. I’m also very interested in the Doctor Doom and Valeria dynamic, it look like she might be making him a better man but knowing Doom there’s probably a much more nefarious agenda to it all.

Ms Marvel #4

It’s felt like an age waiting to return to the world of Kamala Khan, this character is someone that I find really interesting and her installments seem quite far apart unfortunately.

The new Ms Marvel’s origin arc is quite a long one compared to previous origin stories I’ve read. Ordinarily this would run the risk of getting a bit dull and taking too long to get to the action but every addition to this story feels fresh and deliberate plus given the shyness and insecurity of this character it makes perfect thematic sense for her to take a lot longer to figure herself out.

In this installment the focus is on Kamala learning more about her powers and the beginnings of her truly establishing her true identity as a hero. I actually found the dialogue surrounding the removal of the bullet laugh out loud funny and it definitely seems as if she’s putting a brave face on it despite her terror at the fact she was shot and somehow survived with her injury healing.

It is a good decision to have Bruno be her confidante in all this, it’s been clear in previous issues that she has been bursting to tell someone and alleviating that by having someone she can always talk to might help her keep all of this secret from those around her. Again, Bruno’s suggestion to use a sleeping mask to hide her face was fantastic comedy, the image of her standing there wearing that with her street clothes was just hilarious. The disguise quickly evolves into a rudimentary costume which I really liked, it reminded me of the charmingly homemade costume in 2012s The Amazing Spider-Man and I think it makes perfect sense for the character, she still has a long way to go before becoming a hero in the same league as those she looks up to and the journey to get there promises to be a lot of fun.

I also really like the decision she makes -albeit with help- to not shape shift, it shows immense bravery on her part to have that ability yet choose to remain herself. Her insecurities aren’t gone but it shows that she’s strong enough to at least attempt to move past them.

To conclude, this was another excellent issue. The character is one of the freshest things to come to Marvel comics in quite some time and each issue is a joy to read. I love how it juggles comedy and intense drama as well as keeping the crippling fear and insecurities at the forefront. I’m intrigued to see which of the other super heroes she’ll meet first and how that interaction will go.