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Flashback: Review of Uncanny X-Men 128 (December 1979) September 29, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, Flashback.
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As an ending of a storyarc, this wasn’t a bad issue to jump on at. Coming during Chris Claremont’s legendary run, this story pits the X-Men against the incredibly powerful Proteus. Proteus, a mutant and son of Moira MacTaggert, is an energetic being with the ability to warp reality and the necessity to regularly change “host bodies,” leaving the former host dead in the process. In this issue, he has captured his mother, and his current host is that of his father, and he has been chased by the X-Men to Edinburgh.

The beginning deals mostly with the X-Men fighting him, while he literally makes the city come alive and attack them. This causes the X-Men a dilemma, as they try to protect themselves, the civilians, and rescue Moira. John Byrne does a terrific job illustrating the many strange scenarios that Proteus causes, which makes up for much of the fight banter, most of which is a little dated or just plain cheesy.

The best part (both in terms of story and art) comes at the climax. The X-Men have driven Proteus to the outskirts of the city, and they finally attack him head on. After a being brutally attacked Cyclops, Havok, and Phoenix (which leaves all three weakened), he retreats to a castle where Colossus takes him on alone. As the exertion has caused the death of his host, Proteus is left in his true energy form, which has a weakness for metal. (I don’t quite get this part, the story didn’t explain it too well. I’m not sure if his weakness was better explained in an earlier issue, or if this was just bad storytelling.) Anyway, Peter is somehow able to scatter his molecules in his organic metal state.

So, aside from a slightly confusing ending, this wasn’t too bad. I certainly wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to find this story, but if you do find it, and you’ve got some time on your hands, you’ll get a good deal of entertainment.

Next week: Silver Surfer 36 (Volume 3)

-LOTRKing

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Flashback: Review of Fantastic Four 285 (December 1985) September 15, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, Flashback.
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If this issue serves as any evidence, it is not hard to see why John Byrne’s run on Fantastic Four is considered legendary. In this standalone issue, “Hero,” the Human Torch gets a stark contrast to Peter Parker’s “The Boy Who Collected Spider-Man” tale. The beginning of the story focuses on a boy named Tommy who idolizes the Human Torch. At school this boy is bullied, and his parents seem to have little time for him at home. The only thing that he seems to live is to follow the adventures of Johnny Storm. When a neighbor leaves out a tank of experimental fuel and asks Tommy to put it away, he cautions him not to spill any because it could turn him into “a real Human Torch.”

A few weeks later, Johnny is approached by a doctor who says that a dying boy would love to meet him in his final moments. As Johnny meets him, we learn that this boy is Tommy, and is suffering from third degree burns because he wanted to be “just like his hero.” As Johnny tries to cope with a death that he believed he caused, he is visited by the Beyonder (this is a Secret Wars II tie-in after all), who shows him that all Tommy ever lived for was the Torch, and that the rest of his life was only sad and pathetic. According to the Beyonder, he did not die because of Johnny, he lived because of Johnny.

I do not know if I really agree with this statement. Is it better that he had a shorter life full of suffering, or would it have been right for him to continue on with a chance to improve his life? I cannot truly say if I enjoyed this issue, but I must say, it does introduce some interesting philosophical questions. If you’re looking for a single story, not concerning traditional superheroics, but something that’ll leave you thinking for quite a while afterwards, this is certainly one to look into.

Next week: Silver Surfer 6 (Volume 1)

-LOTRKing

Flashback: Review of Fantastic Four 234 (September 1981) August 25, 2008

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In Flashback, LOTRKing reviews a random back issue (in many instances, one he hasn’t read before) and attempts to make sense of both the story and its place in Marvel history.

This is by far the best issue I have yet reviewed for Flashback. I’d like to say it is likely because it is a Fantastic Four issue, but very little of the story actually has to do with the FF. Instead, we are introduced to “The Man with the Power,” as the cover references him. Skip Collins is middle-aged man, living a very average life, in a typical mid-size town. What he doesn’t realize is that he has the power to change things just by willing them so. As we are introduced to the many “un-unique” facets of his life, we learn much about the character in a few short pages.

When his boss breaks Skip’s ordinary routine by sending him to NYC for a business meeting, he does some touring and eventually sees Reed and Sue in a crowd. As he trails them hoping for an autograph, he sees them rescue a girl from a condemned building, before all of NYC is hit with a major earthquake. In the face of this massive destruction, we see the reactions of all the characters (namely, the Four and Skip, who never actually meet).

As Reed comes to realize that the quake was global, and caused by something in outer space, he takes the Four off-Earth to investigate. Meanwhile, Skip, distraught over what has occurred, states “it never should have happened!” At this remark, the world-wide destruction rights itself, and all memory of the incident is lost. (Except for the FF, who are not on Earth and not affected.) As Skip slips back into his ordinary life, the FF discover the true source of the attack: Ego, the Living Planet! This brief outline may make the plot seem slightly cheesy, but a read through will show anything but. There is a reason that John Byrne’s run on FF was legendary, and this issue definitely serves as evidence.

I recently purchased the anthology Who Can Save Us Now? (as suggested on a blog I read), and being over half way through the book, I confess myself rather disappointed. Most of the stories are either just plain weird, or focus too much on matters I would rather have left out. This one issue and the story of Skip Collins are better than every story in that book I have read put together. If you ever come across this issue, I’d highly encourage reading it (along with 235, the cliffhanger is too good to leave part two untouched, not to mention 235 was an extremely enjoyable issue, even without the continuing story of Skip).

Next week: Amazing Spider-Man 284

-LOTRKing