Robot 6

Why you should be reading ‘FF’

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Darla Deering

It’s rare that a completely new character is my main reason for reading a comic, but here we are. I was hooked from the moment Matt Fraction and Mike Allred’s FF team was announced. I haven’t traditionally cared so much about Ant-Man, but She-Hulk has always been one of my favorite characters, and Medusa’s powers are so kooky I can’t help but dig her. What pushed the comic into my pre-order list, though, was the idea of a woman wearing a Thing costume and calling herself “Miss Thing.” And now that I know something about her, I love her even more.

Darla Deering is a pop superstar and Johnny Storm’s latest girlfriend. All you really have to know is the last half of that description, because that’s how she accidentally ends up a member of the Fantastic Four. In FF #1, the real team is headed out on a journey beyond time and space. and needs stand-ins to oversee the Future Foundation for the four minutes of Earth time they’ll be gone. Or longer, if something goes wrong. Reed picks Ant-Man, Sue picks Medusa, and Ben picks She-Hulk. Johnny, of course, completely forgets about the whole thing.

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This will not end well.

Johnny eventually realizes his mistake, but keeps Darla as his pick. That’s partly because he has no time to find someone else, but also: It’s only four minutes. What could possibly go wrong? Naturally, something does and the Fantastic Four don’t return on schedule, but Darla makes the most of it for a few days, as she doesn’t have any responsibilities.

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Yes.

I have a low tolerance for Artie and Leech, but they can be fun in small doses, and Fraction/Allred use them very well in this scene. They’re funny, but they also reveal that Darla’s cool with kids (even annoying ones) and likes pancakes. Those are two, endearing qualities that elevate her above the pop stars I usually imagine Johnny dating.

Of course, the lack of responsibility doesn’t last long, and the new Fantastic Four are inaugurated with a visit from the Mole Man in Issue 2. Darla responds in character for a pop diva.

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Yes.

Dragon Man talks her into putting on a Thing suit that Reed invented for Ben during one of his powerless phases. It’s unwieldy, and she’s awkward in it, but Darla goes outside anyway. It’s not dramatically heroic, but again she shows a lot of character. Fortunately for her, the fight’s over before she has to throw an actual punch, but the idea of having to go into battle for reals is too much. She didn’t sign on for this.

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No!

For readers like me who haven’t been around a Fantastic Four comic in a long time, Darla’s our Everywoman. She’s the normal person who’s trying to figure all this weirdness out right along with us, so it’s important that she feel especially authentic. I may not know what it’s like to be Lady Gaga, but I understand feeling out of my depth and wanting to get back to something more comfortable that I can deal with. For Darla, that’s performing.

Hilariously, though, photos have gotten out of her in the Thing costume and in FF #3, she attracts the wrong kind of attention.

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Oh, you’re about to find out.

I don’t want to spoil how she learns the messy answer to that question, but it involves Ant-Man, who shows up to talk her into coming back. In a scene set in Times Square on New Year’s Eve (which is worth putting there just so Allred can draw confetti), he does.

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Heroic

Not only does Ant-Man get to prove his leadership potential (and remind us that he’s also way out of his depth trying to lead this team while simultaneously grieving the death of his daughter), but Darla gets to be heroic again. This is a woman for whom just showing up is an act of bravery, but she does it and proves her worth in a quiet, relatable way. I’m going to enjoy watching her continue to meet challenges and grow.

The fourth issue of FF is mostly dedicated to She-Hulk (aka, the other reason you should be reading this series) and her “non-date” with Wyatt Wingfoot.

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The Jen!

But Darla still gets a great scene with the future version of Johnny Storm who came back in time with tales of horror.

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Stupid Johnny.

That there were, Johnny. And I don’t blame you for thinking Darla was just one of him. That’s what I figured too when I first met her. But I’ve learned better and she’s way too good for the Human Torch.

I also wonder if she’s not way too good for other comics. I understand that she’s also shown up in the new Fantastic Four as well as the latest issue of Avenging Spider-Man and I’m curious to flip through those next time I’m in the store and see how she’s doing in them. Fraction’s writing Fantastic Four, so that bodes well, but Allred’s the perfect artist for a beautiful, emotional character like Darla and I sort of don’t even want to see anyone else draw her right now. Curiosity will make me peek, but I’m skeptical about the ability of another team to make her as wonderful as she is in FF. Which you should be reading.

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Comments

27 Comments

She was only in the first couple issues of F4 while they set up the premise of both series, and she was in Avenging Spiderman as much as she is essentially one or two panels and just stands there and Superior Spiderman says something about her. So she’s not really featured, if you will.

Anyways, I loved FF when Hickman was writing them, and happy that they are still good but in a different way under Fraction and Allred.

This is a fun series that gets better with each issue. Allred artwork is really good. Writing is fun. Jen and Wyatt non date turned into a date made me really happy. Being a long time she-hulk fan seeing possibly them together again was fun.

Doop is an Allred creation, and he’s being used now. I’m sure someone will pick up Darla in the future.

Love this series and will treasure every issue for as long as it lasts in its current form! Glad I’m not alone in my appreciation.

You are still missing the real beauty about this book, through 4 issues there has barely been any superheroing, and only half of a traditional fight scene. It is a refreshing real from the monotony of cape comics. The characters really do come first in FF. between hawkeye and this, fraction is killing it

Warren Newsom

March 5, 2013 at 1:36 pm

It looks good. It looks fun. Too bad it’s a Marvel Comic. Can’t trust them not to ruin this with a line-wide crossover “event”.

@Warren Newsom:
Or a plethora of “guest-artists” once Marvel decides to ship it twice a month.

Too bad it’s sitting out the next crossover and shipping two Allred issues soon. Oh, wait. Allred said you’d have to pry this book from his cold dead hands before he needed a fill-in. let’s hope that’s how it goes.

Don, I wish we had the ability to Like comments, ’cause I’d still be clicking that button on yours.

It’s a better book than the main F4 book.

And aside from Darla the surprising, the awesome reveal at the end of #4 was a great surprise.

AND HOW DARE YOU NOT LIKE ARTIE AND LEECH?! A POX ON YOU!

@Don:
“Oh wait,” indeed.
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/03/06/eccc-matt-fraction/
“Also Joe Quinone is guesting for issue 6 to let Allred keep on schedule.”

Songbird/Diamondback

March 9, 2013 at 9:04 am

FF really surprises me. It’s easily one of my favorite books of Marvel NOW.

A thoroughly enjoyable comic, a real fun comic and the only one I really look forward to each month. Hickman’s FF was amazing, this is just as good. The art is also wonderful. Guess I’ll enjoy it while it lasts, which sadly is never long enough with the endless changing of writer / artist teams. A must buy.

scarletspider

March 9, 2013 at 9:42 am

From what I understand about the Marvel Now books, they’re trying to keep the writers consistent and artists consistent as best as they can, to create an identity for the new books. At least I hope so…

.

I get tried of writers using movie Johnny instead of the one that matured quite a bit since he broke up with Crystal, or rather she broke up with him.

FF should be Marvel’s #1 selling title.

The ending of issue 4 gave me goosebumps – the story actually produced a physical response from me. To me, that’s a tell-tale sign I’m reading something special.

Mr. Fraction? Allreds? Stay on this title for at least 100 issues. Please. This has the makings of a classic run, right up there with Byrne’s, Hickman’s or (dare I say?) Kirby & Lee’s.

it’s not “movie johnny” I think everyone at this point likes to pretend those never happened. its “Iconic Johnny”. this is how all the writers remember him being and they assume thats how the fans will expect him to be

Needs Pixie. Not she hulk.

Miss Thing is the reason I never picked up this book… it makes no sense for superheroes to involve non-powered people in their adventures (I have the same problem with Robin). Does she really not wear a helmet? Her head is exposed in the Thing suit?? One of these days I’ll pick up a few issues before judging it further, but at first glance it just seems silly.

@Rick

Yeah, God forbid comics be “silly.”

We all know this medium is high literature!

No, it’s not iconic Johnny. It’s regression Johnny. Stan and Jack matured him over the years and that was followed up for quite a long time. Geez, he was married once to Alicia before they turned her into a Skrull.

Ok, I’m going to try this out. Thanks!

Ha! Like I didn’t know ALLREaDy that this book rocks.

Great book, one of my favorite right now. Darla best new character for a long time

What about the room that goes “BOOP, BOOP”?

This (and New Avengers) is probably my favorite of the Marvel Now relaunches…Fantastic Four on the other hand is a bit of a bore. Fraction seems to do best when the artist is nuanced like Hawkeye and Casanova, inspires him or something (or maybe he just does offbeat better).

She’s too good for Fraction’s Johnny (which seems more based on Mark Millar’s version rather than Stan’s).

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