New Comics Beauty Day

*Review Nuggets Dept: It's been a while since I've had these.

- I haven't been following Fantastic Four at all, so maybe the stuff that goes on at the end of the 30-page 'main' story in this 45th anniversary issue was really nicely set up elsewhere and I just haven't read it, but the Big Big last page came off as a really huge non sequitur to me in the context of this issue's story, taken alone, where there isn't anything to set it up. Like, it seemed sort of dartboard random, as if it might as well have been Alf and Heathcliff from Star Comics standing there. It's probably me. And beyond that, writer Dwayne McDuffie actually does a pretty nice job of summarizing the history and appeal of the classic team, while pushing the implications of Civil War off to the side where they can be dealt with at his (or someone else's) leisure.

The real appeal to me, though, were the back-up stories. Stan Lee's piece was a typically silly thing, good mainly for a few chuckles while appreciating the lovely character art of Nick Dragotta and Mike Allred, who are probably responsible for the best joke - posters of Wolverine and Spider-Man spotted hanging in the Marvel offices are joined by a nice, big X-Statix image. Meanwhile, Paul Pope's Human Torch/Spider-Man back-up does precisely what a good back-up ought to, offering a light bit of entertainment in as attractive and unique a way as possible. Classic character dynamics are effortlessly evoked, made to sparkle through Pope's excellent character designs - few have handled the Torch's flames with as much élan. Just as neat as I was expecting.

- I kind of like how the current running theme of Marvel/DC events is 'everything you thought you knew politically was wrong' - now over in Fantastic Four the only one openly blabbing about Civil War's in-story habeas corpus implications is Doctor Doom, and this week's 52 sees Isis pretty much reject every single ideal she's stood for through the course of the series and personally recommend Black Adam get ready to kill the hell out of some folks in the coming weeks. Yeah, it's all obviously just another thing to set up and later knock down, total illusion of depth stuff, but it amuses me. Anyway, this issue is another 52 fight issue, and it's one of the better ones if only for the Four Ages of Dread of Apokolips in its Angished, Bloody Morning's hilariously over-the-top Biblical! presence.

- Shazam!: The Monster Society of Evil #2 was an absolute hoot. Much heavier on the comedy, especially the visual comedy, with some great dream-logic pacing. "WE'VE LOST! QUICK! EAT THE CHILDREN!" I even laughed at the cheesy political jokes. Maybe I was just in the mood yesterday. Everything I'd wanted out of last issue, combined with all the stuff it did right.

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