Funnybook Babylon

August 11, 2009

FBBP #108 – The World’s Greatest?

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 5:42 pm

Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Fantastic Four was meant to return “The World’s Greatest Comics Magazine” to a position worthy of such a lofty byline. The book’s sales didn’t reflect a return to glory — their first issue was the only one to crack the Top Ten, and by the end of their run it was selling less than Dwayne McDuffie and Paul Pelletier’s lead-in issues.

But none of that should matter to people not holding stock in Marvel. The real question is, was it a good read? This week we review Millar and Hitch’s full sixteen issue run. We also take a brief survey of Jonathan Hickman’s forays into the Marvel Universe, as he prepares to take over Fantastic Four later this month.

And yes, for one episode only, we’ve rebranded ourselves as The World’s Greatest Comics Podcast!. Why not? We’re the closest thing to Shangri-La on Earth!

We are an eaglllllle, We are a riverrrr


  1. Any idea why this isn’t showing up on itunes?

    Comment by z — August 13, 2009 @ 9:19 am

  2. Loved this podcast, guys. I really like it when you all focus on one comic book, instead of multiple ones (although I enjoy those podcasts too), because it really let’s you all analyze the story arcs and art intrinsically. Props all around. I’m a big FF four, more-so because of Doom, and I agree whole heart-idly on the utter failure that was the Masters of Doom arc. That made no sense at all, and what’s worse, ended terribly. I’ve had a feeling for a while that Marvel doesn’t quite know what to do with Doom, which is a shame, because of his huge potential. I think it has to do with the company’s fear (as all companies have) of doing something permanent to its characters.

    Comment by euthanatos — August 13, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

  3. The future Invisible Woman’s plan to bring back the future Earth population makes sense because she’s lived through it before through the eyes of her younger self. She knows that Reed will save the day, and how, but she also knows she never tells her fellow Nu Defenders. When coupled with Doom undergoing the same experience in the Masters of Doom storyline and I think this has to be seen very much as Millar’s meta commentary on the nature of Fantastic Four stories (and big two superhero stories in general) in that the storylines repeat themselves with minor variations over and over again, with the main characters (the Four and Doom) never really changing.

    I’m also surprised you never picked up on the design aesthetic of the run, which for the first time in the Fantastic Four replaced the Kirby-school art ethos with the more naturalistic Neal Adams school (a first, if I recall correctly, for the title). It seemed to want to match the ‘realism’ of the original Stan Lee concept of ‘real life’ superheroes with the more realistic Neal Adams style of drawing, and personally I thought it a big step forward from a visual point of view for the Fantastic Four.

    But all in all the run seems to have been deemed a failure by Marvel– the new cover design and design ethos has already been disposed of, and the Hickman run seems to be a visual throwback to the past, complete with 70’s logo and once again following the Kirby school visualisation. For all that I like the art of Dale Eaglesham, he seems to be channelling the style of Rick Buckler in the preview pages released so far.

    All in all I enjoyed the sub Morrison-esque big idea storytelling Millar bought to the title, and felt it refreshing that he bought a more sympathetic air to his writing in his characterisation of the Fantastic Four. While not being the best run ever, it was by far the most interesting the title has been since Waid and Wieringo’s run of a few years back. It will be interesting to see what Hickman does with them, but I don’t hold out much hope of him matching the quality of this run, flawed though it may have been.

    Comment by Lee — August 14, 2009 @ 3:59 am

  4. To echo Z, Itunes doesn’t seem to show this podcast making it difficult (not impossible mind you) for me to throw it on my ipod.

    Comment by Vivek — August 14, 2009 @ 7:39 am

  5. Also, what’s posted here gets cut off at aroun 31/32 min. Is that supposed to happen? The description reads 59:44. I want it all!

    Comment by z — August 14, 2009 @ 7:57 am

  6. Try it now guys. Be back later for some discussion.

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — August 14, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

  7. Lee,

    I agree with your second paragraph completely, and I loved that transition (even though I find Hitch’s art to be kind of cold).

    I think your argument re: Millar’s meta commentary also has some merit. However, I don’t think that improves either arc at all. At this point, I imagine that most of the readership is aware of the fact that characters in mainstream superhero comics rarely change and that storylines tend to repeat themselves. What does Millar have to say about either observation that is interesting to you? Is it reflective at all?

    Comment by Jamaal Thomas — August 14, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

  8. I thought the cover design was a really bad idea from the start. Why have the logo on the bottom half of the book, where it will be invisible on many comic racks? There’s a reason they put 99% of the logos at the top part of the cover. The new logo looks a little too retro but at least people can easily identify the book as a Fantastic Four comic.

    Comment by matches — August 15, 2009 @ 8:06 am

  9. Hi Jamaal,

    “What does Millar have to say about either observation that is interesting to you? Is it reflective at all?”

    Hmm, I think I like the reflectiveness simply because, for all the old Marvel comics being published over the past forty or so years, the Fantastic Four seems to be the least reflective. Indeed, with few exceptions (the mid Kirby era, the Richards divorce that seemed to say more in Moody’s Ice Storm than the comics themselves, Morrison’s mini and Waid’s rather marvellous Jack Kirby as God) the Fantsatic Four seems to be the least self reflective comic published. I have a feeling that Millar impressed me simply by trying, even if his work on the title can’t be seen as a complete success.

    It’s very much a shame that Morrison was never given the title during his stay at Marvel a few years back. Indeed, for an author that likes to explore the end of the world, transcendence, and the way fiction bleeds into reality (© Timothy Callaghan, and probably my favourite description of his work) Morrison really does strike me as the perfect Fantastic Four writer.

    Comment by Lee — August 18, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  10. This is a little off topic. But will you guys ever return to the format of reviewing comics that came out for the week? Just wondering since I feel you guys are more focused either on one comic or a smaller number of comics than back in the day. Also, I’ve been wondering Pedro’s opinion on the latest Cap return. Thanks for the podcasting guys!

    Comment by Vince — August 20, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

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