With all the MARVEL NOW! Announcements that have been coming out in the last few weeks, the one that seems to have surprised and confused people the most is the new FF series by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred, featuring a new replacement team of Ant-Man, Medusa, She-Hulk and hilariously, “Miss Thing,” a celebutante-type in a robotic Thing suit.
Personally, I can’t wait.
Not only have I always been a big fan of Mike Allred’s, both on MADMAN and pretty much anything else he does, but this approach to the team, as radical as it looks, is actually really well grounded in FANTASTIC FOUR history. With the notion being that the Fantastic Four are choosing their own replacements before departing Earth for a lengthy mission (and naturally, Johnny Storm puts it off till the last second, with the girl he’s dating eventually taking the spot), let’s take a closer look at the new roster:
Sue Richards’ replacement, Medusa, has a long history with the team, making her first appearance all the way back in FANTASTIC FOUR #36 (March 1965) as a misguided member of the Frightful Four, and making her official debut as a member in FANTASTIC FOUR #132, replacing Sue Richards back then as well during a short-lived separation from her husband Reed.
Considering that both Medusa and her super-powered brethren the Inhumans are Lee-Kirby creations who made their debut in the pages of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine,” this pick works just fine.
Ben Grimm’s replacement, Jennifer Walters, better known as She-Hulk, had the longest and most distinguished tenure as an FF member of anyone other than the original four founding members.
Replacing The Thing after the events of the original SECRET WARS series, the She-Hulk character fit like a glove in the Fantastic Four under the pen of writer/artist John Byrne, who expertly integrated her into the team so successfully that her tenure lasted past his own, with her lengthy run seeming the most natural of any replacement member. She-Hulk added a sexiness and wit to the team that it have never really had previously, and which I’m hoping to see again with Fraction and Allred’s run.
Scott “Ant-Man” Lang joined the team in FANTASTIC FOUR #384, brought in to supply a little technical knowhow after the presumed death of Reed Richards.
While Scott Lang was always more of a technician and engineer than a true scientist, and never really on Reed Richards’ level as a genius-level intellect, it’s clear that Reed is bringing him in to be the team’s resident brain, and quite frankly, I’m just so happy that the character’s awful Bendis-written “look how daring I am as new AVENGERS writer” death has been undone that I’m pleased to see him anywhere.
And finally, while I have no idea what’s in store for the character of “Miss Thing,” the notion of the robot-Thing suit has been around forever, dating all the way back to FANTASTIC FOUR #169 (April 1976).
The suit was first introduced as an invention of Reed Richards’, as a way to allow Ben Grimm to continue serving with the team even though he’d been returned to his human form.
In its initial appearance, Ben only wore the Thing suit for about six months before regaining his powers and returning to his rocklike form. Over the years, on occasion when Ben has found himself temporarily human again, he’s gotten the Thing suit out of mothballs when the need arises, in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. And I have to admit, the notion that Johnny’s mysterious girlfriend apparently chooses to “drive with the top down,” leaving off the helmet, continues to give me a chuckle.
So there’s your new FF. And you have to admit, it’s certainly more faithful than this version…
See you next week.
Scott Tipton is looking forward to some non-FF FF. If you have questions about the FF or comics in general, send it here.