Sunday, June 7, 2015

Calling All Super-villains

Forever Evil: written by Geoff Johns; illustrated by David Finch and Richard Friend (2013-2014; collected 2015): I guess if you ever wanted to see Bizarro-Superman kill Otis from Superman: The Movie, then this is the Event Series for you. The Crime Syndicate of an Earth parallel to that of the Justice League figures out how to take the Justice League off the board without actually fighting them. And then they invade and conquer the Earth. But they hadn't reckoned on Lex Luthor putting together a team of super-criminals to... save the world? Yep.

David Finch's artwork is suitably gloomy for this crossover event. Writer Geoff Johns does love the ultraviolence from time to time. Moreover, the seven issues collected here seem awfully padded in the middle, a classic case of gear-grinding so as to get the maximum number of crossovers from the entire DC line (there were about 200 Forever Evil issues of other comic books in addition to the core miniseries). Competent series but not all that much fun; the Crime Syndicate was a lot more interesting when introduced in the wacky Silver Age or re-introduced by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely in a late 1990's Justice League graphic novel. Lightly recommended.


In Search of Galactus: written by Marv Wolfman; illustrated by Keith Pollard, John Byrne, Sal Buscema, Joe Sinnott, and others (1979-1980/collected 2010): From the sometimes fun, occasionally broody, and always wordy Marvel of the late 1970's (very late, given that we move into 1980 in the course of this collection) comes this collection of nearly a year's worth of Fantastic Four comics penned by Marv Wolfman.

Wolfman decided to wrap up the major plot-lines of his just-cancelled Nova series in the Fantastic Four comic, thus pairing the team with Nova and craptastic D-List superhero group New Champions for part of this adventure. The main adversary is the Sphinx, a super-powerful, immortal human with a yen to blow up the Earth. Outgunned, Reed Richards decides to find Galactus and get him to beat up the Sphinx. Why would Galactus do this? Because Reed will then waive the promise he received from Galactus to not eat the Earth. OK! This is a cunning plan.

There are also Skrulls, an aging virus that's going to kill all the members of the Fantastic Four not named the Human Torch in about three days, and a brief solo foray for the Human Torch with his buddy Spider-man at an evil college run by a forgotten FF villain from the later issues of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Fantastic Four. It's all enjoyably wordy, has some nice artwork -- especially from the John Byrne/Joe Sinnott team, who do a mean Galactus -- and goes down smoothly. 

Though why Galactus wants yet another Herald, given the 100% failure rate of the first three (beginning with the Silver Surfer, natch), is a great question. As we learn in this series that Galactus has a zoo on board his spaceship, perhaps his recurring need for a Herald is just an expression of his deep-seated but unacknowledged need for... a friend. Recommended.

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