Archive for the ‘Alicia Masters’ Category

Fantastic Four #520

December 29, 2014

Fantastic Four 520Mark Waid // Mike Wieringo
January 2005
****

Part of a lark of an arc. Last ish, the Storm sibs swapped powers to save Sue from aliens. Now Galactus himself has anointed da Invisible Kid as his new herald! Tho’ he shafts Sue, I love Waid’s Johnny Storm, here seen wandering G’s ship & fighting a planet’s champion w/ cosmic forcefields.

last issue: Fantastic Four #519
next issue: Fantastic Four #521

also indexed for Jan. ’05
Astonishing X-Men #7
Daredevil #67
Iron Man #1
The Pulse #6

Fantastic Four #512

December 21, 2014

Fantastic Four 512A-story: Mark Waid // Mike Wieringo
B-story: Mark Waid // Paul Smith
June 2004
A-story: ****
B-story: ***

Hard-luck Johnny seeks advice from Spider-Man at a waterpark, in a superhero version of Friends or a Hollywood bromance. Cool—the run’s high point so far has been Waid’s early focus on Johnny Storm, maybe the trickiest of the four to write well. And hey, a three-page marriage gag for a back-up!

last issue: Fantastic Four #511
next issue: Fantastic Four #513

also indexed for Jun. ’04
Daredevil #59
Thanos #9

Fantastic Four #509

December 18, 2014

Fantastic Four 509Mark Waid // Mike Wieringo
March 2004
****

The mag still has its dark edge, thankfully dulled by Wieringo’s return. The team’s split, Reed’s brooding, & Johnny hallucinates Ben for company. A game of phone tag mobilizes the Fantastic Three for a rescue mission—to heaven! The Kirbytech is vintage: Doom’s flawed machine from college!

last issue: Fantastic Four #508
next issue: Fantastic Four #510

also indexed for Mar. ’04
Daredevil #56
New X-Men #151
New X-Men #152

Thunderbolts #2

June 16, 2014

Thunderbolts 002Kurt Busiek // Mark Bagley
May 1997
****

Baron Zemo’s clever plan to insinuate his two-faced team into the Avengers’ vacant slot is already working; his deputy wonders if they’ll prefer honest celebrity to criminal success. Busiek fills out the personalities a bit (& starts adding soap), which’ll help sustain this premise in the medium term.

last issue: Thunderbolts #1
next issue: Thunderbolts #3

The Fantastic Four #601

December 13, 2013

Fantastic Four 601Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
February 2012
****

To counter an alien armada, Johnny S. leads his space-insect cavalry into the skies, reinforced by the Inhuman cityship! But can Earth survive a battle low in its orbit? Epting’s in his element, penciling okay widescreen action (if you want Hickman’s heftier, smarter work, read the partner mag).

see also FF #13
last issue: The Fantastic Four #600
next issue: The Fantastic Four #602

also indexed for Feb. ’12
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #8 of 9
FF #13

The Fantastic Four #600

December 11, 2013

Fantastic Four 600A-story: Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
B-story: Jonathan Hickman // Carmine Di Giandomenico
C-story: Jonathan Hickman // Ming Doyle
D-story: Jonathan Hickman // Leinil Yu
E-story: Jonathan Hickman // Farel Dalrymple
January 2012
A-story: **** // B-story: ***** // C-story: *****
D-story: **** // E-story: *****

A king-size #600. The A-story picks up the threads of FF, pitting every NYC superhero against a pair of alien invasions; a surprise twist has the late Johnny Storm break the Annihilation Wave! Then Hickman shows that Torch did die in #587, only to be resurrected in a gladiator scenario. That piece has a Euro look that meshes w/ the bug-‘verse setting; like all the back-up pencilers, it puts Epting to shame. Much of the art is “ugly” yet lovely, accentuating how creative JH’s whole run is.

continued from FF #11
continued in FF #12
next issue: The Fantastic Four #601

also indexed for Jan’ 12
FF #12

FF #5

December 4, 2013

FF 05Jonathan Hickman // Barry Kitson
August 2011
****

The prophesied war ignites! First the doppel-Reeds & Mole Man destroy Old Atlantis, then they face the Inhuman space-city at the strange Forever City. And kudos to Kitson: tho’ his Reed is bland, his Thing is expressive &, even rarer, his Sue is a strong presence, matching Hick’s portrayal.

last issue: FF #4
next issue: FF #6

also indexed for Aug. ’11
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #6 of 9

The Fantastic Four #584

November 25, 2013

Fantastic Four 584Jonathan Hickman // Steve Epting
December 2010
****

For over a year, Hickman has been writing one- & two-issue arcs, which makes this multi-plot storyline all the more portentous. Reed parleys w/ Galactus while Sue escorts Namor to Old Atlantis. But the soul is Ben, who swigs his cure & clobbers the gentrified Yancy Gang, now hedge-fund financiers!

last issue: The Fantastic Four #583
next issue: The Fantastic Four #585

The Fantastic Four #574

November 15, 2013

Fantastic Four 574Jonathan Hickman // Neil Edwards
February 2010
***

Hickman, after a few prior glances, now focuses on the Richards kids. On Franklin’s fifth b’day, an adult self zaps in to offer Val prophetic warnings (a War btw Four Cities, trust Doom) & to restore his child-self’s mutant power. Four stars, if the pseudo-cinematic art weren’t so pedestrian!

last issue: The Fantastic Four #573
next issue: The Fantastic Four #575

also indexed for Feb. ’10

Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1 of 5

November 6, 2013

Fantastic Four - Dark Reign 1Jonathan Hickman // Sean Chen
May 2009
***

One of the FF‘s strongest runs starts, unexpectedly, in the disposable venue of event spin-off. Hickman sidesteps action for Mr. F’s new invention: a dimensional scanner/gateway, which (due to a federal raid by Dark Reign, AKA Marvel’s new status quo) shunts his team onto a dino/caveman Earth!

next issue: Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #2 of 5

The Fantastic Four #350

July 10, 2013

Fantastic Four 350Walt Simonson
March 1991
***
An extra-long ish sees Dr. Doom cure She-Thing’s condition, &, ironically, Ben Grimm regain his rocky hide. Then Doom traps the team at his Ruritanian castle to challenge Reed to a time-duel! Simonson doesn’t quite have Doom’s voice down. But his art has bigger problems: Milgrom inks a rush job, eliminating the backgrounds & losing WS’s heavy line; the colorist washes out the remainder.
[continued in The Fantastic Four #352]
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #349]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #351]

The Fantastic Four #349

July 9, 2013

Fantastic Four 349Walt Simonson // Arthur Adams & Gracine Tanaka
February 1991
***
A dozen players chase a Maguffin, an egg that hatches a robot WMD. Mr. F & Mole Man hold the focus; Wolverine & Ghost Rider never seem wholly present. Simonson doesn’t have a handle on the guests’ voices or superpowes. His strongest suit, aside from Mr. F himself, is approaching comic books as fun.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #348]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #350]

The Fantastic Four #348

July 8, 2013

Fantastic Four 348Walt Simonson // Arthur Adams
January 1991
***
A team of A-list solo guests sows the mag’s tongue in its cheek. But other than the goof, WS has no use for them; it’s Adams who justifies the cameos. His style has a toon-like element—esp. lovely monsters & Sue’s doe eyes—which looks past the Image era to super-manga like Joes Maduriera & Quesada.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #347]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #349]

The Fantastic Four #347

July 7, 2013

Fantastic Four 347Walt Simonson
December 1990
****
A renegade Skrull zaps the Four then recruits a 1990 Marvel marketer’s dream-team to replace them. Meanwhile, Simonson brings in more monsters, in this case Kirby kaiju! Adams’ baroque art has all the density of the era’s unfortunate style but, bonus, a sense of anatomy, backgrounds, & pacing.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #346]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #348]

The Fantastic Four #344

July 4, 2013

Fantastic Four 344Walt Simonson
September 1990
****
To avert WW3 on a parallel Earth, the Four & She-Thing tussle w/ a cyborg Stalin piloting a mecha suit! Simonson is inspired, a contrast in tone to the era’s gun-toting urban vigilantism. His art, however, carries a rugged weight & vibrant SFX—he’s like Chaykin’s younger, more popular brother.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #343]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #345]

The Fantastic Four #343

July 3, 2013

Fantastic Four 343Walt Simonson
August 1990
****
The team have landed on a parallel Earth where Pres. Quayle & 100-year-old Stalin prep for WW3. Funny, since reality, where the SU is imploding & the US fights a recession! But the true-blue heroics contrast happily w/ super-comics’ fad for antiheroes. Plus WS looks great after WS’s month off.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #342]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #344]

The Fantastic Four #342

July 2, 2013

Fantastic Four 342Danny Fingeroth // Rex Valve
July 1990
*
Editor Macchio pulls a fill-in from his files, flashing back to ’88 (Engleheart’s era—a spikey Thing!). The wet tale revises a skippable issue from Byrne’s run: a teen kills himself by emulating the Torch. Overwrought emo, a tin ear for slang, and a finale that has Johnny rap with kids about suicide.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #341]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #343]

The Fantastic Four #337

June 27, 2013

Fantastic Four 337Walt Simonson
February 1990
****
The ebullient Simonson writes, draws, & inks! Reed’s latest experiment, an explosion of op-art, leads to a Ditko embolism in spacetime (a dangling thread from Walt’s Avengers run). So the team + a few Avengers pile into a time sled, whose “redundency existentialators” help penetrate the bubble!
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #336]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #338]

The Fantastic Four #334

June 24, 2013

Fantastic Four 334Walt Simonson // Rich Buckler
early December 1989
***
Simonson debuts & instantly shifts the mag’s tone from lugubrious to lighthearted. As part of the Acts of Vengeance crossover, he pits the FF against D-list supervillains (who can’t even get in the building!). Buckler’s three-tier grid has a cheery flatness, but he does realistic, expressive faces.
[last issue: The Fantastic Four #333]
[next issue: The Fantastic Four #335]

The Fantastic Four #232

December 9, 2010

John Byrne
July 1981
***

Byrne bails on Uncanny X (& on Cap) to auteur his own mag. As the issue says, it’s back to Silver Age basics: a mage pits the FF against a set of elementals (IE doppelgangers). It’s strong on superheroics & hard science, paced well, & a dream to look at: Mr F’s coils are cool & Sue uses fields to fly.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #231
next issue: The Fantastic Four #233

Also this month
Daredevil #172

The Fantastic Four #29

April 27, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
August 1964
****

A snappy reprise of FF‘s lunar face-off against a Soviet scientist & his superpowered apes. Like a lot of FF issues over the last year, #29 consolidates rather than innovates. But Kirby’s catching fire: here, inspired by the cosmic vistas of the Watcher, he dabbles in photo-collage & op art.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #28
next issue: The Fantastic Four #30

also indexed for Aug. ’64
The Amazing Spider-Man #15
The Avengers #7
Daredevil #3
Journey into Mystery #107
Strange Tales #123: Dr. Strange

The Fantastic Four #28

April 26, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
July 1964
***

The mag hosts another guest app: a gimmick w/ diminishing returns after 4 issues. In the Marvel style, the FF butt heads w/ the X-Men before allying against the true villains. The team-up of two Silver-Age foes doesn’t inspire, while the mutants can’t match the home team’s flair.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #27
next issue: The Fantastic Four #29

also indexed for Jul. ’64
The Amazing Spider-Man #14
The Avengers #6
Journey into Mystery #106
Strange Tales #122: Dr. Strange
The X-Men #6

The Fantastic Four #25

April 23, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
April 1964
*****

The Thing v. the Hulk in an all-out brawl thru NYC! Grimm, who first refuses a cure, gets outclassed by an opponent who’s bigger, stronger, & meaner. Lee & Kirby, carrying motives & momentum over from The Avengers, stitch their comics into one ongoing multi-volume story. A landmark & a classic—superhero comics at their best.

continued from The Avengers #4
last issue: The Fantastic Four #24
next issue: The Fantastic Four #26

also indexed for Apr. ’64
The Amazing Spider-Man #11
Daredevil #1
Journey into Mystery #103
Strange Tales #119: Dr. Strange

The Fantastic Four #24

April 22, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
March 1964
***

Working on about 10 books a month, Lee & Kirby turn out a bum issue on their flagship (tho’ even their mediocre work is okay). It’s a throwback to ’50s sci-fi—an omnipotent alien child causes chaos till its parents retrieve it—but the design is goofy & the plot digresses for a gangster’s schemes.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #23
next issue: The Fantastic Four #25

also indexed for Mar. ’64
The Amazing Spider-Man #10
The Avengers #4
Journey into Mystery #102
Strange Tales #118: Dr. Strange
The X-Men #4

The Fantastic Four #21

April 19, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
December 1963
****

Stan & Jack draw up a groovy (if earnest) metaphor w/ an overt New Frontier bias: the Hate-Monger—a Hitler clone in pointy klansman hat!—preaches bigotry in the US, funds revolutions in Latin America, & zaps the Four w/ a hate-ray! Enter Nick Fury, CIA, who sends Mr. F on a 007-style mission.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #20
next issue: The Fantastic Four #22

also indexed for Dec. ’63
The Amazing Spider-Man #7
Journey into Mystery #99
Strange Tales #115: Dr. Strange
Tales of Suspense #48: Iron Man

The Fantastic Four #19

April 17, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
October 1963
****

Ancient Egypt may hold a cure for Alicia’s blindness, so our daring heroes nip back in Doom’s time machine. But—surprise!—a pharaoh from the future (3000 AD) captures the quartet w/ a hypno-gun. As usual by now, the cracking pencils & goofy dialogue add oomph to a crazy adventure.

continued in The Fantastic Four Annual #1
last issue: The Fantastic Four #18
next issue: The Fantastic Four #20

also indexed for Oct. ’63
The Amazing Spider-Man #5
Journey into Mystery #97
Tales of Suspense #46: Iron Man

The Fantastic Four Annual #1

April 16, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
October 1963
A-story: ***** // B-story: ****

A mammoth mag: the A-story alone is 37 pages! It’s an epic story-arc, one of Marvel’s best issues ever. Namor rides in imperial pomp thru Atlantis (Kirby’s 2-page spread is a beaut) & then marches on NYC! His army is routed by Mr. F’s techno-wizardry, but it’s Namor’s melodramatic passion for Sue (who, incidentally, prefers Reed) that alienates his subjects. An encore restages an earlier tussle w/ Spider-Man—note how Jack prefers webshooters to spider-powers. Plus pin-ups galore!

continued from The Fantastic Four #18
continued in The Fantastic Four #19

also indexed for Oct. ’63
The Amazing Spider-Man #5
The Fantastic Four #19
Journey into Mystery #97
Tales of Suspense #46: Iron Man

The Fantastic Four #17

April 14, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
August 1963
*****

This issue’s a Silver Age gas, crammed w/ goofy balloon-bots, dangerous deathtraps, & crazy gadgets. After a light first act, the team storm Doom’s Flash Gordon airship to rescue the Thing’s gal. Highlights: Ben Grimm’s aerial assault, Sue’s judo skills, Doom’s bold escape, & a cameo from JFK’s hair!

last issue: The Fantastic Four #16
next issue: The Fantastic Four #18

also indexed for Aug. ’63
Journey into Mystery #95: Thor
Strange Tales #111: Dr. Strange
Tales of Suspense #44: Iron Man

The Fantastic Four #16

April 13, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
July 1963
****

The great Doom duels the heroes + guest-star Ant-Man for control of an atom-sized micro-world! The feudal setting is standard for scientific romance (right down to the deposed monarch & his lovely daughter), another frontier for the FF to explore. Note that Kirby’s trying to make Sue a stronger hero.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #15
next issue: The Fantastic Four #17

also indexed for Jul. ’63
The Amazing Spider-Man #3
Journey into Mystery #94: Thor
Strange Tales #110: Dr. Strange
Tales of Suspense #43: Iron Man

The Fantastic Four #15

April 12, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
June 1963
****

When the Four take five for individual hobbies, they leave their HQ vulnerable to attack. A criminal mastermind nearly outwits them using their own Kirbytech weaponry & a blockheaded golem. Lee can’t quite make the villain’s super-IQ convincing, leaving Kirby’s creativity to carry the book again.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #14
next issue: The Fantastic Four #16

also indexed for Jun. ’63
Journey into Mystery #93: Thor
Tales of Suspense #42: Iron Man

The Fantastic Four #14

April 11, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
May 1963
****

The Puppet-Master was better left dead, but here he is, pitting the team against the Sub-Mariner once more. What’s notable about #14 (aside from Kirby’s marine life) is the soap operatics. Sue & Reed wrestle with feelings, in the clumsy, earnest style of romance comics. Namor just swaggers around—look at that cover!

last issue: The Fantastic Four #13
next issue: The Fantastic Four #15

also indexed for May ’63
The Amazing Spider-Man #2
Journey into Mystery #92: Thor
Tales of Suspense #41: Iron Man

The Fantastic Four #12

April 9, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
March 1963
****

A result of Marvel’s anti-heroic ambiguity is that heroes can clash. So the Hulk, near cancellation, gets to guest star while the FF cameo in Spider-Man’s #1! The quartet clear Banner’s monster, accused of sabotaging SDI tests. But the prize bout—Hulk v. Thing—gets halted before a winner’s declared.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #11
next issue: The Fantastic Four #13

also indexed for Mar. ’63
The Amazing Spider-Man #1
The Incredible Hulk #6
Journey into Mystery #90: Thor
Tales of Suspense #39: Iron Man

The Fantastic Four #10

April 7, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
January 1963
****

Aside from a Lee/Kirby cameo, Mr F is the focus of #10, the first issue to feel truly original. Doom returns from space w/ the ability to swap minds. Now Reed must escape Doom’s body & save his pals from himself! Smarting over Sue’s crush on Namor, his loss of power almost works as a metaphor.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #9
next issue: The Fantastic Four #11

also indexed for Jan. ’63
The Incredible Hulk #5
Journey into Mystery #88: Thor

The Fantastic Four #9

April 6, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
December 1962
****

This ish has enough small pleasures to trump a silly plot in which arch-villain Namor rigs a film shoot w/ deathtraps. He’s vying w/ the Thing for best FF character; here they fight mano a mano (Namor wins on a technicality—booo!). Also clever: the Four go bankrupt, forcing them to earn a living!

last issue: The Fantastic Four #8
next issue: The Fantastic Four #10

also indexed for Dec. ’62
Journey into Mystery #87: Thor

The Fantastic Four #8

April 5, 2010

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
November 1962
****

A creepy puppeteer controls minds via radioactive clay. Mostly this is a formulaic tale told well—one where, once again, irony wins the day & not superheroics. Jack draws an A-1 setpiece, as the boys stop a jailbreak! And more pathos for the Thing as a blind girl falls for his inner nobility.

last issue: The Fantastic Four #7
next issue: The Fantastic Four #9

also indexed for Nov. ’62
The Incredible Hulk #4
Journey into Mystery #86: Thor