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.
The rapid rise of social media has been both a blessing and a curse to the frequently complicated creator/fan relationship. Whereas a decade ago a reader might’ve followed a writer or artist’s occasional posts on Livejournal, or on rare occasion even received a response to a message-board comment, now there’s direct interaction on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Formspring. While those exchanges frequently go well, with an artist responding thoughtfully to a sincere and polite question, we’ve all seen our share of venomous tweets from readers and embarrassing Facebook meltdowns from creators.
When the subject turns to sensitive territory, like gender or ethnic representation in mainstream superhero comics, the chances of a social-media misfire increase dramatically. That’s why I was so pleased to read this recent exchange on the blog of Matt Fraction, writer of Marvel’s FF, Fantastic Four and Hawkeye. Asked (politely) why, when presented the opportunity to diversify the cast of FF, he opted for Miss Thing to be white — “Do you think FF would work with an African-American Miss Thing and why aren’t you writing that book?” — Fraction responded with a refreshing mix of humor, honesty and chagrin, and without the tetchiness you might expect from such a scenario.