BOOK REVIEW – JOHN BYRNE – THE FANTASTIC FOUR – VISIONARIES 2007 Marvel Books.

 

A disappointing collection of Fantastic Four stories from a rather dull period in their adventures. The worst aspect of this selection is that they come from a time when The Thing (Ben Grimm) has left the team in a dispute with his colleagues, and they have temporarily replaced him with The She-Hulk. 

 

Many stories deal in succession with the return of villains believed by the FF to have been finally killed off (as if that happens often in comic-dom). The first comeback is their most famous enemy, Dr. Doom, who pretends to be an ally to the Four who needs to break into his old Latvian Embassy to stop schemes initiated by Doom before he vanished. That he is Doom trying to get his full powers and weapons back is obvious to any readers. The melodramatic dialogue is utterly unconvincing.

 

No sooner is Doom sent packing, but alive, than Blaastar, a maniac from beyond the stars comes back too. Seen over a set of comics that are released months apart, such a repetitive formula might work, but seeing the stories rolling one after the other with no pause between, makes the format highly implausible, even in such a nonsensical setting as that of comic book superheroes.

 

Dispatching Blastaar, the Four, aided by Nick Fury, Agent Of SHIELD, find themselves caught in a time loop, created in the dreams of one man, and cast back into 1936, they have to stop Nick Fury from killing Adolph Hitler, though the trouble with dreams is that people wake up, and so the story proves utterly unsatisfactory.

 

The best story here is the last one, a self-contained tale of a US town trapped in a dark bubble. Iron Man has nearly died going in and being thrown out. When She-Hulk is sucked in, the other members of the team enter to find themselves worshipped as religious idols. A mad but well-meaning scientist who was fearful of a nuclear holocaust built the bubble. He has created mutant versions of the four themselves, and sets tem on the real Four from lack of belief that they can still live. He thinks the bubble’s time period runs slower than real time. In fact, time in the bubble is accelerated and the people there have been trapped for centuries of time while in reality time moves much more slowly – the whole FF battle to put things right takes only hours.

 

A poor collection from an unremarkable time in the comic series- this could have been so much better. The Visionaries title is meaningless.

 

 Arthur Chappell 

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