24th Jul2013

Panel Discussion #015 with Mark, not Jack

by Mark Allen


Just me again this time, but I hope to have Jack back (and be on track) for this week’s comics…

July 17th

Fantastic Four #10, Matt Fraction, Mark Bagley, Marvel Comics

Following the apparent reveal last issue that Sue Storm can no longer control what parts of her are invisible (I lost last issue halfway through, remember?), Marvel’s First Family crash-land in 18th century Pennsylvania where the Declaration of Independence is being drafted by a skrull posing as Ben Franklin. Because of course.

Green men get clobbered and we learn a bit of American history – specifically that Thomas Jefferson was a complex guy who wanted to abolish the slave trade but owned several himself – that reflects on the decisions Reed’s made and his ever more fraught relationship with his family, especially Valeria.

It’s another issue from Fraction and Bagley that throws ideas around in an interesting way that’s a pleasant read, but once more isn’t nearly as fun as its sister book…

FF #9, Matt Fraction, Joe Quinones, Marvel Comics

…Where, back in the present, the alien who pretended to be Julius Caesar a couple issues back in Fantastic Four offers the Future Foundation use of his time-and-space-machine to help find the heroes who are unstuck in time, but not before inviting them all over for a pool party – all documented by semi-evil clone and Werner Herzog idoler Bentley-23 on camcorder.

So much good stuff in here, from Ahura, Medusa’s teenage son’s hipsterish refusal to enjoy himself and his mother’s whispered pleas of “give me strength” perfectly encapsulating an oft-experienced moment between parents and children, to the burgeoning splash-war between super-powered kids and super-serious moloids that catches innocent bystanders (or, in the case of Leech, ring-sitters) in the crossfire and culminates in the mother of all pool party moves. I’m sure you can guess it.

Yeah, it’s a bunch of silly fun, but it’s all threaded through with humanity and beautifully illustrates the many ways children connect to and abuse each other completely obliviously, and that makes it well worth a read.

Hell, Bentley’s movie voiceover alone is worth the price of admission.

Prophet #37, Giannis Milonogiannis, Image

Milonogiannis writes and illustrates this mostly silent issue – which is kind of appropriate since he has only letterer Ed Brisson to talk to – which follows a new John in his quest to restore a gigantic techno-organic robot to life on an abandoned space station.

While I haven’t been a huge fan of Milonogiannis’ simple, sketchy landscapes and flat colour palette (Simon Roy’s rich, dense images suit my tastes much better) in the past, those attributes actually aid the feeling of isolation you get from this story. Pages of 2-4 panels give a broader sense of space and there’s a definite manga influence in the action sequences, giving them a natural kineticism that’s shown through before but now feels much more refined.

There’s a sense of the bittersweet to the issue’s conclusion – as ever with the generally pretty bleak Prophet – but also the feeling that disparate events from previous stories are going to be tying together in the coming issues, which is pretty exciting.

Iron Man #13, Kieron Gillen, Greg Land, Marvel Comics

As last issue, so now. The beginning of the next chapter in the “Secret Origin of Tony Stark” sees regular series artist Land return, much to my dismay, as we learn a little more about a war between ancient cosmic super-races and the “Godkiller” device used to level the Celestials, but not much else.

I’ve got to say, $3.99 is a steep price to pay for such little content. I’d say it’s a problem with the writing except Gillen is killing it on Young Avengers (he and McKelvie pack so much good stuff into each issue it puts other team books to shame) and that’s a dollar less, so the logical conclusion must be that it’s an editorial mandate, and a pretty cynical one at that.


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