Spider-Man/Fantastic Four #1

Spider-Man must join with The Fantastic Four to fight a … “Crisis on Campus!”

WRITER: Christos N. Gage

ARTIST: Mario Alberti

Your new miniseries reviewer, reporting for duty.  Comment below, but remember: this is my first time, so please be gentle.

WHAT HAPPENED:

Dr. Doom is at ESU for a peace conference with Latveria’s neighbors and the Fantastic Four are on campus to provide Doom with security (against their better judgment).  It’s Peter Parker’s school, too, which means that Spider-Man is not far away when Namor attacks campus seeking revenge against Doom for past betrayals.  Doom body swaps with the Torch and retaliates against Namor.  At Spider-Man’s suggestion, Torch (in Doom’s body) goes on TV and behaves embarrassingly.  When Doom learns of the humiliation, he ends his fight and swaps bodies back to go save face.  Namor leaves, gratified at Doom’s humbling, and a Dr. Doom from the future appears in Latveria, providing portents of things to come.

WHAT I LIKED:

When doing a flashback miniseries like this, especially one with chapters from various time eras, one main thing I’m looking for is a nod to continuity placement, such as context clues telling me where this story might fit, but even just references to semi-recent events are good.  Thanks to dialogue, we know this story takes place a month after the FF/Daredevil/Doom fight of Fantastic Four #s 39 and 40.  We also know it is shortly after Peter started at ESU and that Gwen is still giving him the cold shoulder after his recent distracted behavior due to Aunt May’s ill health (which I believe was the Master Planner story of ASM #s 31-33).  There are also several other references to specific goings-on in the characters’ lives.  That was all awesome.  Gage gets kudoes for continuity.

Also, while telling a good chapter by itself, we need a believable plot thread that is going to be long-term and tie together the otherwise disparate events.  Like with the previous Spidey/X-Men mini, this receives a small allusion on the last page, just enough to make you wonder, a hook to bring you back next time.

So those structural notes aside, let’s look at the story itself.  Peter Parker’s and Johnny Storm’s out-of-costume rivalry is given a healthy dose here.   We see Gwen Stacy’s interest in Peter blossoming in spite of herself.  The battle in the air between Doom-possessed Torch and Namor hearkened back to the Sub-Mariner’s historic battles with the previous man of fire.  Spidey and Torch-in-Doom taking advantage of their wisecracking skills was corny but fun.  Also, the opening scene where General Ross forces the Fantastic Four into the position of working for Doom was excellent, with Doom’s immense arrogance, and everyone else’s revulsion at the idea.  The portable TV Spidey brings in is huge and retro-looking.

I also liked the action aspect of the art.  The fight scenes were great.  There’s a two-page spread with Namor fighting Torch and all the other characters surrounding that is just beautiful, but…

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:

Also the art.  To be more specific, the art when Alberti is drawing human faces of established characters.  He does layouts and action and costumes all well enough.  In fact, his Dr. Doom mask was great.  But Reed Richards looked nothing like he should, and the same goes for Peter Parker and in some panels Johnny Storm.  Most of the time, the characters look like they’re the stunt doubles for the real guys (Spaceballs fans, raise your hands).

Namor brings with him an entire batallion of Atlantean soldiers AND Giganto, the flipping whale that ate Jonah, complete with arms and legs.  My question is: How did he get all the way to Empire State University without causing a ruckus that would have pulled out the FF, the Avengers, AND the X-Men?

Speaking of Namor’s army and sea monster, they were useless.  They didn’t do anything.  He brought them across New York City and then they all just stood there while Namor did the fighting.  They didn’t even tussle with Spidey.  In The Fantastic Four #4, Giganto was a huge threat that Ben Grimm risked his life to stop.  Now, he’s just decoration.

While I praised this scene for its execution, I also have to say that putting the method for FF and Dr. Doom on ESU campus with Peter Parker was a bit contrived.  Maybe I should have expected it, but still.

How easy is it for Doom to body swap?  Doesn’t he need big machines?  Here, he just gives Torch the evil eye and ZOOP! he done swapped their souls.

CONCLUSION:

Despite my art problems and other nitpicks, I did really like this issue.  It was basically exactly what I was looking for.  Gage is following a similar plot structure to that used in Spider-Man/X-Men, but I don’t fault him for that.  It worked in 2008; it can work here.

RATING: 4 out of 5 miniwebs

Thanks for reading.  I’ll have more miniseries reviews coming your way soon.

22 Responses to “SPIDER-MAN/FANTASTIC FOUR #1 Review”

  1. #1 Teenage wasteland says:

    Hey Awesome review.
    :D

  2. #2 Jesse Garrett says:

    hmm…i’ll be giving this a read! i rather liked the x-men/spider-man crossover.

  3. #3 Donovan Grant says:

    Nice job my man! Another great addition to our review staff.

  4. #4 AmFan15 says:

    I liked this review! It was very informative, and VERY funny! I especially laughed at “ZOOP! He done swapped their souls!” I want that on a T-shirt!

    Are my ears deceiving me, though? The dreaded “C-word” in a MARVEL comic? (I mean “continuity”…get your heads out of the gutter!) ;) Does Joey Q know about this?

  5. #5 BD says:

    Congrats on your first review Jon!!! You did a great job, I’m looking forward to more reviews. I really liked the X-Men/ Spidey mini so I’ve got high hopes for this one.

  6. #6 Two-Bit Specialist (formerly SuperChencho) says:

    Your review actually made me want to get this! You mean there are actually good Spidey stories out there??? Also, I must read that Spidey/X-Men mini from a few years back. Sounds like a good read too (even with stuff like “Xraven”).

  7. #7 Tom K.W. says:

    Good first effort Jon !

  8. #8 Jonny says:

    (Raises hand)

  9. #9 Gamer7 says:

    ive been waiting for this for a while now so im goign to comment without even reading the review (just the marvel preview) and say WHooopeee this is awesome!

  10. #10 Hambone says:

    I always thought Doom could perform the body swap WITHOUT the use of machines. I know it wasn’t required in the Marvel Role Playing Game….

  11. #11 Gerard Delatour II says:

    Welcome to the club, Jon. I’ll accept your $1000 membership fee via check or certified money order. :P

  12. #12 Enigma_2099 says:

    … a whale… with hands and feet?

  13. #13 Two-Bit Specialist (formerly SuperChencho) says:

    “Remember: this is my first time, so please be gentle.”

    So, Jon: did it mean as much to you as it did to me? ;)

  14. #14 persian-spider says:

    No offence but 4 webs for this comic?! You gotta be kidding me. I thought the whole premise of the issue was pointless and boring. It didn’t shed any light on the already well-established relationship between Spidey and the FF or on the relationship between Peter and Gwen or between Peter and Johnny. Was Spidey’s presence in this story even necessary? Why was Doom fighting Subby?
    I can’t help but compare this to the excellent first issue of the marvelous Spidey/Human Torch mini written by the talented Mr. Slott. There you had a very enjoyable story reminiscent of the good silver-age Marvel comics with a plenty of heart and soul that showed us the growing friendship, trust and respect between Spidey and the Torch and went beyond their teenage rivalry. But here they act like they are sworn enemies. There is no indication that they will be life-time best buddies. They are like two brats playing pranks on one another for no reason.
    The dialogues are bad too. In my opinion. Mr. Gage Is not that good a writer. His X-Men/Spider-Man was also mediocre at best.
    The last panel announces: “Next: Spidey & FF fight Venom!”
    Now, is that supposed to excite me or sharpen my appetite for this series? Wake me up when the battle is over. Yawn.

  15. #15 persian-spider says:

    By the way, the whole body swap thing has been done so many times before in more effective and interesting ways. Remember the “Great Brain Robbery” episode from the Justice League Unlimited where Luthor and the Flash switched bodies? Now that was fun!

  16. #16 Enigma_2099 says:

    … a whale…

    … with hands and feet?

  17. #17 Jon M Wilson says:

    @Enigma, that’s what he looks like…
    @Gerard, I gave at the office.
    @Hambone, I haven’t gone back to check my old The Fantastic Four issues, but I’m pretty sure at this point, he couldn’t do it so easily.
    And to everyone, thank you for all the love and support on my first effort. Will have more soon.

  18. #18 Two-Bit Specialist (formerly SuperChencho) says:

    @persian-spider You and I clearly have different tastes, because I went ahead and bought it, and I thought it was an excellent first issue. I enjoyed every bit of it. Maybe my standards are low because, *ahem* I’m new at comics and I’m not a jaded old reader.

    I can’t wait for Venom! I was see Eddie Brock, not Mac Gargan in the symbiote!

  19. #19 persian-spider says:

    @Two-Bit Specialist (formerly SuperChencho)- I am definitely not old and jaded reader. I am 25! Unlike you, I am wise and knowledgeable enough to know a good read when I see one. And Venom? I don’t even wanna waste a second of my precious life talking or thinking about him.

  20. #20 persian-spider says:

    “I can’t wait for Venom! I was see Eddie Brock, not Mac Gargan in the symbiote!”
    you sound like a 5-year-old boy!

  21. #21 Two-Bit Specialist (formerly SuperChencho) says:

    @persian-spider Oh, great. We’ve resorted to insults now. Good for you. So, according to you, if we like this mini, then we are not as wise and knowledgeable as you. And if we like Venom, then we’re wasting our lives, unlike you. Good job, sir. I only wish I was as mature and hardcore as yourself.

  22. #22 GreenieGobbie says:

    I have to agree with a lot you said here in this review. But I thought over all it was ok, but I did like the continuity within the story. That was very nicely added in for us Spidey/FF fans. But overall nice review, and thanks for sharing your opinions on this issue! :D