Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
In a way, it’s may be a good thing the Fantastic Four movie is doing so poorly, because now we get to talk about Marvel’s First Family.
For some reason, interest goes up whenever the Fantastic Four are in dire peril, whether that’s imminent death or cancellation. Most recent writers have chosen to threaten the team’s existence to generate interest, with mixed results: James Robinson came on under “The End of Fantastic Four”; Matt Fraction said the radiation that gave them their powers would kill them; Jonathan Hickman killed Johnny Storm, then rebranded what was left; and that’s just in the past five years.
It seems every time the team appears in danger of falling apart, or losing its title, is precisely when fans and critics like myself haul out the tributes and care about the Fantastic Four’s place within Marvel history. There’s an image we all have of what the Fantastic Four is and what it means in our heads. It’s just that putting that idea onto paper and sold for $3.99 is a difficult journey.
This video should probably be prefaced with the disclaimer “Do not attempt this at home,” followed immediately by, “Holy fiery hell, that is awesome.”
That, in this case, is an incredible Fantastic Four promotional stunt by viral-marketing agency Thinkmodo, which attached a flammable dummy to a drone, set it alight, and then flew it into the night sky, making it appear as if Johnny Storm had appeared, in the red-hot flesh.
Considering the staggering amount of animosity directed toward Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four before production had even begun, it’s surprising it’s taken this long for someone to mash up Fox’s big-budget reboot and Roger Corman’s infamous unreleased 1994 film. But better late than never, Vulture has arrived with a remix that uses audio from the teaser trailer with footage from that corny, low-budget gem.
The result, in Vulture’s words, is “a delightful, low-rent ’90s video interpretation of Marvel Comics’ first family.” You can judge for yourself below.
Marvel’s First Family is headed to Denny’s for, yes, the “Slamtastic 4.” Seriously, what else could it be called?
The home of the Grand Slam Slugger, the Grand Slamwich and Moons Over My Hammy has partnered with 20th Century Fox to promote the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot with not only new dishes inspired by the film, but also a sweepstakes.
The new trailer for director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot featured humor, Doom, the Baxter Building and Marvel’s First Family using its powers, but it suffered from a serious lack of H.E.R.B.I.E. However, that regrettable oversight has been remedied in this fan-produced parody, which pairs the soundtrack from the trailer with footage from the Fantastic Four’s assorted (and also mostly regrettable) animated series.
Clearly, the absence of both a robot sidekick and scenes of The Thing kicking sand at a foe indicate Fox has no idea what it’s doing with the property.
(Time once again for ROBOT 6 contributors Tom Bondurant and Carla Hoffman to email each other about the year in DC and Marvel superhero comics. This year’s exchange took place between Dec. 26 and Dec. 30.)
Tom Bondurant: First let’s address the elephant in the room — or, more accurately, the infinite number of parallel rooms, each containing a slightly different elephant. In 2015, both Marvel and DC are building Big Events around their respective multiverses. Conventional wisdom predicts that DC is doing this to address fan criticisms of the New 52, perhaps resulting in some continuity tweaks.
Carla Hoffman: Oh, man, I hope that’s true! Honestly, I have a hard time judging the inner workings of our respective companies sometimes because I always hear more from the fan side than the production team. Enough customers come in, day in and day out, with a piece of their mind on how things should be run or changed, but rarely do the people in charge — not creators and editors, mind you, the people who sign the checks at the end of the day with real power — come forward to say, “We feel this is the right direction.” Tom Brevoort on Tumblr comes close with his tireless open forum, but even then there’s always going to be company policy. If DC is brave enough to go “Maybe we shouldn’t have thrown the entire baby out with the bathwater” and massage their continuity into a more pleasing shape for fans, that’s going to be a heck of thing that will have an effect on readership, for sure.
All-New X-Men #33, Fantastic Four #12, Inhuman #7 and Wolverine and the X-Men #11 include the phrase “Created By Stan Lee and Jack Kirby,” while Death of Wolverine: Deadpool & Captain America #1 states, “Captain America Created By Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.” The credits pages can be found below.
Added with no fanfare, the credits follow a settlement agreement announced last month, ending the five-year-old fight between Marvel and Kirby’s children over the copyrights to 45 characters created or co-created by their father — among them, the Avengers, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.
Neither side has commented publicly on their agreement beyond the joint statement, issued even as the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to decide whether it would consider an appeal by the Kirby heirs: “Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.”
Here we go again.
According to a distributor listing for June 2015 (are we really looking that far ahead now?), James Robinson and Leonard Kirk’s current run on Marvel’s Fantastic Four will be released in a collection called Fantastic Four Vol. 4: The End is Fourever that includes a “Triple Sized Final Issue 645″. Sighted today at New York Comic Con during a retailer presentation was a big logo for the James Bond-esque title, but there was little other information. Maybe we’ll get an announcement while you’re reading this article, so follow CBR’s comprehensive coverage of NYCC (cheap plug)!
There have been rumors about Marvel ending the Fantastic Four (and possibly the X-Men) to spite Fox, which owns the film rights to both properties effectively in perpetuity, but that seems petty. Who opens a comic and asks, “I wonder what this licensing property will do this week?” We read comics for the stories, characters and creators; corporate politics is probably the last thing fans want to think about while (hopefully) enjoying the latest issue. And people are still opening up new issues of Fantastic Four, as the book’s sales are pretty steadily in the 28,000 range these past two months. Not Batman numbers, but still …
As comics fans continue to grumble about casting and rumored plot details, and predict box-office doom for director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, filmmaker Marty Langford takes us back 20 years with a sneak peek at his documentary Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four.
Even if you haven’t picked up a DVD bootleg at a convention, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the legend of the 1994 film, shot over 28 days for a meager $1 million so producer Bernd Eichinger could retain the film rights to the Marvel Comics property. Featuring low production values and high levels of camp, The Fantastic Four was never released in theaters, and many — including Stan Lee — have long contended it was never intended for distribution. However, Eichinger, Corman and others involved tell a different story.
Comic strips | The art from cartoonist Bill Watterson’s surprise return to the comics page earlier this month for a three-day stint on Pearls Before Swine will be auctioned Aug. 8 on behalf of Team Cul de Sac, the charity founded by Chris Sparks to honor Cul de Sac creator Richard Thompson, who has Parkinson’s disease. The proceeds benefiting The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. A painting by Watterson of one of Thompson’s characters sold in 2012 for $13,000 as part of a benefit auction for Team Cul de Sac. [Team Cul de Sac]
Creators | The tech news site Pando has fired cartoonist Ted Rall, just a month after hiring him, along with journalist David Sirota. While Rall wouldn’t comment on the reason for his dismissal, he did say the news came “really truly out of a clear blue sky. I literally never got anything but A++ reviews,” and he added that editor Paul Carr gave him complete editorial freedom. While Valleywag writer Nitasha Tiku speculates that the two had rubbed investors the wrong way, Carr disputes that, as well as other assertions in the article. Nonetheless, both Rall and Sirota confirmed they were let go. [Valleywag]
In an interesting analysis, Eriq Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter sees signs the U.S. Supreme Court might consider the five-year dispute between Jack Kirby’s heirs and Marvel over the copyrights to many of the company’s most popular characters.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in August upheld a 2011 ruling that Kirby’s Marvel creation in the 1960s were work for hire, and therefore not subject to copyright reclamation by his children. (They had filed 45 copyright-termination notices in September 2009, seeking to reclaim what they saw as their father’s stake in such characters as the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk; Marvel fired back with a lawsuit.) In their March petition to the Supreme Court, the Kirby heirs took aim at the Second Circuit’s “instance and expense” test, arguing that it “invariably finds that the pre-1978 work of an independent contractor is ‘work for hire’ under the 1909 Act.”
Gardner points out the the justices discussed the petition at a May conference, and then requested that Marvel respond (the company initially didn’t file a response). Those p0tential portents were followed by a pair of friend-of-the-court briefs: one filed by Bruce Lehman, former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on behalf of himself, former U.S. Register of Copyrights Ralph Oman, the Artists Rights Society and others, and the other by attorney Steven Smyrski on behalf of longtime Kirby friend Mark Evanier, Kirby historian John Morrow and the PEN Center USA.
Toronto residents may have noticed a host of classic heroes, from Wonder Woman to Astro Boy to the Fantastic Four, are now protecting the city’s streets. At least that’s what many of the neighborhood watch signs insist.
According to CBC News, an artist calling himself Andrew Lamb has “hacked” as many as 70 of the signs, pasting over the familiar houses-with-eyeballs icons with the even more familiar figures from comic books, television and movies (Mr. Rogers, Cliff Huxtable and Dale Cooper, among them).
“I walked by and thought those signs would be much better with a superhero up there,” he told CBC News. “The first one was a splash page — a common thing in comic books, a bunch of superheros popping out at you. Then came Batman and Robin, RoboCop, Beverly Hills Cop, and then it snowballed.”
Lamb acknowledges his project is “technically illegal” — he’s received just two vandalism complaints — but he doesn’t believe it’s “ethically or morally wrong.”
You can see more photos of his handiwork below, and on Lamb’s Instagram account.
As discussed here last week, the final page of Forever Evil promised a particular kind of big event as its follow-up. However, the just-concluded miniseries also inflicted more immediate consequences on the Justice League; it’s those I’ll be talking about today.
* * *
I previously mentioned that the New-52 relaunch/reboot didn’t really add a new “structural” feature to the superhero line, in the way that “Flash of Two Worlds” established the Multiverse or Crisis on Infinite Earths facilitated all those legacy heroes. At the time I didn’t really mention the addition (or re-integration) of the WildStorm and Vertigo characters, but I still don’t think that’s as big a deal as the Multiverse or the generational timeline. The difference is that Flashpoint brought in characters mostly to the present-day DC Universe, whereas COIE and (to a lesser extent) the original Multiverse both dealt regularly with larger spans of time. In the latter cases, the superheroes first emerged in the runup to World War II, and those adventures ended up informing their modern-day counterparts. While the New 52 had books like Demon Knights and All Star Western that were set even further in the past, they could only influence the main superhero line obliquely.
Marcos Martin grew up reading American superhero comics imported to his native Spain, and for the first 13 years of his career, he lived, breathed and drew those heroes in titles like Batgirl: Year One, Doctor Strange: The Oath, The Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil. But now he’s moved on, devoting himself primarily to creator-owned comics with a reach beyond the direct market. The first sign of that is The Private Eye, the digital comic he created with celebrated writer Brian K. Vaughan about the price of privacy in a futuristic world.
Both Martin and Vaughan have talked with CBR about their project, so for this installment of “Conversing on Comics” I reached deeper into the artist’s work, looking for his influences and his choices. The interview, conducted in late April via Skype, pulls back the curtain on Martin, an ambitious but private professional who’s looking to entertain not just the ardent comic book fan but also more mainstream readers interested in fiction and fables.
With the arrival last week of the new volume of Fantastic Four came the departure of prolific colorist Paul Mounts, who worked on the Marvel series for 11 years.
“Tom Brevoort had been editing Fantastic Four even longer that I had been coloring it, and after a record-breaking run on the title decided that it was time to give someone else a shot at editing it,” Mounts explained in an email to ComicBook.com. “And, of course, when a new editor takes over a title, he/she is going to want to bring in his/her own team, make his/her own mark. […] I tend to always look forward to the next project than to look back at the past, but I guess after 11 years and (I think) nearly 130 issues, it’s a change worth a mention. Someone who was nine years old when I started would be twenty now – yikes!”