Posted - May 26, 2013 | Updated August 23, 2015
Civil War: Fantastic Four
By the time Civil War : Fantastic Four begins Johnny Storm is already in the hospital, having been mobbed in front of a nightclub in Civil War.
We immediately get a sense of the FF as a family as they make plans for that age-old ritual when a family member gets confined : taking turns by the bedside. There's only one little problem, Reed Richards does not seem to be interested in participating in this time honored ritual.
And thus the cracks begin to appear.
J. Michael Straczynski and Mike McKone treat us to a full page of panels of the Thing waiting by Johnny's bedside. Just a lot of sitting down and dialogue. It is so well done I don't mind at all.
Previous to this, Mjolnir, Thor's mystic Uru hammer has landed in the middle of Oklahoma. After the events of the last Ragnarok the God of Thunder is in temporary haitus and so his hammer is just laying there waiting to be picked up. Of course, one can't just pick up Mjolnir, the person has to be worthy. And so the inevitable has happened: A long line of people have formed to try their luck.
Soon enough a mysterious somebody does succeed. Unfortunately, but justifiably, that's all we have on the "hammer" incident from inside Civil War :Fantastic Four - I suppose the matter will be taken up in future issues.
The Thing has always been my favorite Marvel character. He's supposed to be six feet tall, but I've always favored artists who drew him larger than that; the Thing, after all, is about brute strength. So I really like this McKone panel.
Hands big enough to drape over Sue's shoulder and lower back. Wonderful visual.
We also get this great pinup style panel of Ms. Marvel trying to apprehend fellow hero Silverclaw.
Ms. Marvel asks the Thing to help out but he ends up walking away - that's a bit of ham-handed foreshadowing right there.
Here's another classic Fantastic Four image - the Thing walking through Yancy Street.
And before long, the famous Yancy Street Gang.
It turns out that Ben Grimm is undecided with regards to the the Superhuman Registration Act. He gets this advice from the head of the Yancy Street Gang, I think the guys name is Cee.
I'm not in agreement with this advice. I mean, look at Switzerland. Its rich, peaceful, and its never been invaded. Speaks well of neutrality doesn't it?
An alliance has formed between the Thinker and the Puppet Master. We keep getting panels like these.
You just know that these two will end up betraying each other.
I find the quiet moments in the comic very well done. Scenes like this one with the Thing in a neighborhood deli.
Soon enough we get into some action, as Iron Man and some Pro-Registration heroes are attacked while escorting a convoy. Here's an excellent shot of that.
Spider-Man hasn't yet switched sides at this point. The Puppet Master takes control of one of the escorting gunships. McKone gives us a wonderful panel.
We have a big pinup panel of the Thing seeing all this fracas. But what I really like is a smaller panel with the Thing looking on as Spider-Man "catches" some missiles.
Now for a show of strength from my favorite Marvel superhero!
Here's the Thing complaining about the damage and casualties
This damage and casualty business is what would bring about Captain America's surrender and an end to the Civil War. Look at this, it's happening this early, and its the Thing that's calling attention to it. But no one's listening.
Remember that "crack" in the relationship between Reed and Sue that we saw by Johnny's bedside? It's about to become a break. The reason being the Superhero Registration Act.
That's not really right isn't it? Those of us who have been in a relationship know that the seeming reason for the break up is simply the straw that broke that camel's back. I suspect the real reason is Reed's monomania with his scientific experiments. Here's a great pinup symbolic of the rift.
Sue storm didn't just walk off or create a personal force field within the room. She did damage to the Baxter Building by having a force field tube go through several floors.
The Thing and the Human Torch are the same way - when they get into one of their scuffles the dollar cost is significant - any long time reader of the Fantastic Four can attest to this. They probably do it because they know Reed is wealthy. Do the children of billionaires behave this way I wonder?
Fantastic Four is a book where we see impossible things like a a human being bursting into flames and remaining unharmed, a formidable orange rock-man with unbelievable strength, a woman able to turn invisible and project force fields. And . . .
A man able to look at property damage and calculate with accuracy how much its going to cost. Truly, this is Mr. Fantastic.
I like what happens next. Ben Grimm, unwilling to choose a side in the Civil War, decides to head over to France. Paris, France. With this, the story takes a welcome and lighthearted turn after the rather heavy going of seeing the FF slowly crumble before the events of the Civil War.
While in France Ben Grimm meets Le Heroes de Paris
Wonderful isn't it? Let's go check these guys out.
We have Comte de Nuit - the Night Count (Batman).
The Blue Light (Green Lantern).
Le Cowboy (just silly).
Fantome (Deadman + Phantom Stranger)
The Wind (generic speedster).
Docteur Q (generic armored hero).
With the French reputation for gastronomy our heroes sit down for what looks like an excellent lunch.
The civilized heroes - I mean it.
Next, a pinup of the Parisian heroes and the Thing in a fight. With the Thing shouting "It's Clobbering Time" in "French". This alone is worth the price of admission.
And after the battle.
Did you get the dialogue? Adamantine: "And now dinner". Thing: "We just ate". Adamantine : "Yes. Magnificent, is it not?".
Yes it is. It is magnificent.
I love this beautiful panel by Mike McKone of Anais and the Thing in the Paris catacombs.
Here's Reed Richards asking the Thinker to check his work - those mathematical writings all over the wall.
This is a key moment because this is were Richards reveals his reason for siding with Iron Man in the Civil War. According to Reed, he has perfected the science of large scale event prediction through mathematics. According to him, he has been able to predict large societal shifts for some years now. Furthermore, his calculations has led him to the conclusion that unless the Superhuman Registration Act is implemented a period of terrible upheaval will ensue. Thus, he is going against himself and supporting the act, which he considers the lesser of "31 evils". So that's it, Math is king in the Marvel U. Oh how I hate it.
Civil War : Fantastic Four happens to end with the 45th Anniversary of the Fantastic Four. You know what that means : Flashbacks from FF history. It's an enjoyable ride. Lets see . . .
The fateful rocket ride that changed the team into the FF.
Excellently rendered by Mike McKone. I love the stars in the background.
A picture on the wall showing the first adventure (and iconic comicbook cover) against the Moleman.
The time when Doctor Doom launched the Baxter Building into space.
The first time I read these it certainly wasn't the original issues - they were worth gold by the time I could read comics. Nor was it the handy Masterworks or Essentials collections we have these days. I got my young hands on a digest format collection of the first ten or so issues. As compact as those Archie Digests that you see around these days. I don't know who made them, I don't even remember how I got them, or how I lost them, for that matter. But that's how my Bronze Age self first read some of the FF's Silver Age adventures.
The Thing punching the Surfer.
I like the Surfer but the Thing looks fantastic.
FF against Galactus
I wish Marvel would uncreate the She-Thing. This is just wrong in so many levels.
I think its very realistic that after the truly terrible breaks introduced by Civil War that Reed and Sue aren't able to just go back as if nothing happened. They are out of the team for now, but not to worry, look who the replacements are!
Next we have a fun Stan Lee scripted story that shows "The Man" with the FF
I swear "Madman" great Mike Allred drew this but the credits say Nick Dragotta with Mike on inks. Hmmm.
Unlike Civil War : Front Line, Civil War : Fantastic Four isn't so dependent on the main Civil War story arc and may be enjoyed by lovers of the FF on its own. Straczynski and McKone really shine in these issues, no wonder they're legends in the making. The anniversary issue in the end was very nice but I still think that Sue is too quick to forgive Reed. I would have preferred a time of separation and the Invisible Woman starring in her own series. I mean, if Marvel Girl can do it so can the most powerful member of the FF.