Friday, July 22, 2011

"Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...."

I was just thinking the other day about my early years of collecting comics, and the types of comics that interested me at the time.
An early favorite that comes to mind is the Fantastic Four. I don't why this group of adventurers captured my attention, but they did. Maybe it was the simple, but cool costumes they wore. Maybe it was their super-powers. And maybe it was the family element that helped make me like them so much. I don't know, but something about the FF made me like them.

Long before I learned that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created these characters, and the history of the creators themselves(I only had a basic knowledge at the time that Stan Lee created a lot of the early Marvel characters, but knew even less about Jack Kirby. I know, I know, but I was just a kid at the time. I had to figure all the backstory out so don't blame me; I was a kid you know) I learned of the recent(at that time)adventures of the FF. Sure I knew about the old 60's cartoon, I even saw it once or twice, but the line-up I bought and read was totally different than than the roster I thought I knew.

Here's what happened:
My mom and I had gone to a yard-sale on base housing( I lived in West Germany back then) and I of course back then, was looking for mostly comics. I'm sure if I found some cool figures, or GI Joes or Transformers I'd have been just as happy. But my main  mission was to score some comic books. Well, at this particular yard-sale I hit paydirt. I found Fantastic Four#'s 313, 318-319, and I think 321. Not bad right?
Bear in mind I knew completely nothing about the current storylines that ran throughout those issues. Again, as in most cases back then, I fell for the cover and the art. If the story was well-written, then that was a bonus, but mostly I cared more for the art.

Anyway, I read #313, and even though I didn't know why the Thing looked different, or why there was a Ms.Thing, and even why this wasn't the classic FF line-up, I just knew I had just read a pretty cool issue...and the art was nice too!
Even though it was old hat to old or regular readers, the 19th million battle with the Mole Man was fun for me. I think I even felt sympathy for him since all he wanted to do was for him and his moloids to just be left alone. Hey, the Hulk wanted to be left alone too, so why didn't the Hulk just move in with the Mole Man?
And of course I though Crystal helping both Things stay cool was, well cool idea which suited her powers. And who couldn't feel the pathos of Johnny Storm fighting his old feelings of love for Crystal, despite being married to Alicia? Even at 7 or 8, I could still comprehend what a sticky situation that must have been for ol' match-head.
Then I read #'s 318-319, and damn did I really get into the FF then! I didn't know who Steve Englehart was, or anything about his previous work, all I knew was that this guy could really tell a story.
 #318 was exciting to me, because(at least for me) this was the 1st time Dr.Doom teamed up with the FF. I loved how this pissed the Thing off that he had to team up w/Doom since Reed wasn't there to provide his usually technical genius, thus why the need to team with Doom. I also liked how bad-ass Doom was portrayed in that issue, as Englehart makes a tough, bad-ass like Blaastar job to Doom; and by strangulation no less! I mean he seriously chokes him out as if they do in professional wrestling or Ultimate fighting.
Simply violent and awesome for a young kid.
But that's only the 1st part of why I loved this story. The 2nd, was the really and truly brutal attack by Dr.Doom on Owen Reese, the Molecule Man. At the time, that was the most violent attack I had ever seen!
Seriously, look at how bad Doom pwns MM here!
And that's one of many reasons why Doom is so fucking bad ass! Just look at the blood coming out of poor Owen's face people!

Of course Owen gets better since his powers saved him, but Doom didn't know that at the time.

The 3rd part, was the next issue, #319. I see the Beyonder the 1st time, and he's basically God, or a god. What's really weird is how the whole thing ends. The Shaper of worlds and Kubik shows up to tell the Beyonder that he's part of a whole, the whole being a Cosmic Cube. The Beyonder doesn't take this well, and just wants to live, just like the rest of us. Again, these issues had so much pathos that even as young as I was, I kind of got the deeper meanings attached to the story.
By issues' end, both the Beyonder and the Molecule Man fused together to form a new Cosmic Cube.
Oh, and Doom got his memories back.

All-in-all, I was hooked to this line-up and this creative team. They wouldn't stay very long after this "Secret Wars 3" thing, and the next issue I'd pick up was during the whole "FF and their evil dream clones" thing.

Yeah I was confused too.


googum said...

I remember the last one there, as a bit of a continuity patch: Doom was apparently dead when the Beyonder was gathering everyone for the first Secret Wars. So, Beyonder couldn't find Doom, but knew he wanted him in on this, so he just grabbed Doom from back in time! Problem solved...except for cornholing the space-time continuum.

I did like that given a shot at the Cosmic Cube, Doom gets his head straight, then tries for world domination. But, some writers (like Simonson, who had a great FF run!) said Doom was a robot more often than not. That was a good way to clear out some of Doom's losses, but if he had been a robot here...I dunno, it would've wished to be a real boy or something.

Dale Bagwell said...

Thanks for the back story Goo. I kind of hear that there was a continuity glitch here somewhere with Doom, but until you explained it, I didn't know exactly what that was.
Good looking out man!

I like Simonson's run too, but I admit I skipped around a bit, from the dinosaur island story to right around his last issue.

Dan said...

FF was my 'in' to Marvel to, and it's one I have never been able to shake. My first issue wasn't the core four either, but rather had Reed and Sue tortured by the devil and saved by their kid while on the surface the Thing came home from war and found his best friend shacking up with his girlfriend. One issue - one mind blown. That was it.

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