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Mark Waid’s Run on the Fantastic Four – Vol. 1-3 (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fantastic Four, I’m taking a look at some of the stories featuring the characters over the past half-century.

The Fantastic Four helped launch Marvel to publishing greatness over the 100+ issues drafted by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but they’ve seldom occupied a prominent place in their publishing line-up since that dramatic introduction. Sure, the title earned a place as one of the three Ultimate on-going titles (at least before Ultimatum) and sure, there were occasionally hugely successful and iconic runs like that of John Byrne, but these were the exception rather than the rule. The title never really reached a stage like the X-Men, Spider-Man or even Avengers books (in modern Marvel), where they were clearly the title to watch. While I’m not entirely convinced he succeeded, Mark Waid is consciously trying to find a definitive approach to the title. And I respect that.

The adoring public…

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Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers – Mighty Avengers: Assemble & Secret Invasion (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

This is the ninth in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s core continuity (and in particular their “Avengers” franchise) over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity. Get an overview of what I’m trying to take a look at here.

After the schism of Civil War, a title like Mighty Avengers makes sense on some level. If you’ve pitted heroes against heroes in a contest that you’ve deemed to be allegedly subjective (Marvel’s editorial policy was that there was no right or wrong side to the conflict), then it makes sense to follow the winners as well as the losers. The post-Civil War issues of Bendis’ New Avengers followed those heroes who had fought against registration of superheroes and lost, and Mighty Avengers was launched to offer us an on-going narrative featuring the winning side. It also seems to be a conscious nostalgic effort on the part of author Bendis, perhaps a response to the criticism that his early work on New Avengers steered clear of conventional Avengers storylines – occupied as they were with Japanese ganglands, prison breakouts and Sentry’s inter-personal issues. Here, Bendis seems to be consciously focusing on classic Silver Age devices – in the first run of issues, the State-sanctioned Avengers team faces classic foes like Ultron, the Symbiotes and even Doctor Doom. The problem is that Bendis isn’t necessarily comfortable drafting conventional superheroic fare.

Ultron puts Tony in touch with his feminine side…

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