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Unearthed: The X-Men #1

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If you’ve been reading our Marvel Retold series (an if you aren’t, there’s never been a better time!), you know of our love for the X-Men. And while you’ve probably seen an X-movie or two, you might not have read their origin issue… so here it is!

As always, we’re not going to give you every panel from every page; go out and get the collection for that, you cheapskate! But we’re taking a look with our usual jaundiced eyes at the classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby… masterpiece?

“Angel! You’re stirring up everything in the room that’s not weighed down! Beast! There used to be GLASS in that window! Iceman! WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU DROPPING DOWN FROM?”

“Professor X! Where’s your wheelchair? HOW DID YOU GET HERE?”

So Xavier, the bald dude, has gathered a posse of teenaged boys. Just go with it. He doesn’t have the use of his legs, has never been in the army, is not a trainer of any sort. Yet he’s got the huevos to order them around and actually GRADE THEM as they perform these frankly terrifyingly dangerous “tests” he’s concocted for them. Man, teenaged boys are DUMB.

Listen, I don’t care HOW strong you are: physics will only allow you to go SO FAST. And you may say ‘well, hey, c’mon, it’s just a comic book’. My answer will always be to run off, crying.

A rich, blond White kid being racist? Heaven forfend!

Outside of this first issue, I’ve never seen Angel do this again, but it’s really cool.

… at what age do reflexes get BETTER?

Henceforth, Cyclops here will be seen just firing so quickly it’s like there’s no actual mechanism in place to prevent his beams from coming out at all. Yet we’re told in this second panel his visor has to open, what, all the way for his beams to project? And it’s happening slowly?

Of perhaps all the X-Men, Cyclops is the one with whom I have the most problems. But we’ll get to them in due time.

“Yes… your young, supple bodies… struggling hard… SO HARD against each other…”

“Professor? Why are you breathing funny?”

Okay, brace yourselves, True Believers. When the headmaster himself comments on the beauty of one of his students, it’s TRIGGER WARNING CITY

And sure enough, boys will be boys. But! Notice that the one young man NOT ogling the arrival of Jean Grey is Iceman… who decades in real time later we’ll discover is canonically gay. Could Stan the Man have planted that reveal THIS early? I’ll leave it up to you to decide!

That’s right: the “X” in “X-Men” DOESN’T stand for “Xavier”.

That’s also right: it’s stupid.

“Human” cyclops, Xavier? Also, note that he’s officially “Slim Summers” here. Also also: why “Marvel Girl”? That doesn’t denote her power at all. In my alternate X-history headcanon, Xavier’s a huge post-Peter Gabriel Genesis fan, so he names Jean “Invisible Touch”.

Sure, that’s a long way to go to make a joke, but I have time.

Wait… so Xavier’s making a case that he was born a mutant because his parents were both irradiated? Then… how do you explain EVERY OTHER MUTANT, Prof?

TRIGGER WARNING

“I was only trying to be friendly!” “Why don’t you smile more?” “What, can’t take a joke?” “Why you being so emotional?”

Not a good look, Beast.

Nothing takes the terror out of a threat like a refined signature.

That Magneto’s obscured by his own dialogue balloon here is hilarious.

I’m convinced no kid has ever said “YAYBO” like Stan Lee thinks they did.

Stan Lee also doesn’t quite understand how magnetism works.

Nor does he know what ice is, apparently.

Surely SOME of those things were bolted down. Like the girder with BOLTS IN IT

CITATION NEEDED

Even though the soldier here says “Uncanny!”, the book wouldn’t become “The Uncanny X-Men” until issue 94.

Also, what was going to happen after the fifteen minutes had elapsed?

“Uh… thank you, sir! But the X-Men aren’t IN your command.”

“What’s that now?”

“We’re not under your command.”

“I don’t understand.”

“We don’t work for you.”

“… totally not getting it.”

“We’re leaving now.”

“See you in the mess hall in twenty!”

And that’s the X-Men #1! Not what you’d expected, eh? EH? EH WOT? Blimey! Thruppence! Etc. Join us on Wednesday for X-Men #2, in which MUTANTS!

Unearthed: Nexus… now in COLOR!

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As promised, True Believers, we now move into the next phase of Nexus… the Next-us Phase, as I never call it… in which we get to see Horatio Hellpop in glorious color!

Steve Rude’s clean-lined style truly lends itself well to color. Les Dorscheid does amazing work throughout this series… as someone who’s just now beginning to understand how color in comics works, I’m amazed he was able to achieve so much. Just the simplicity of assigning hues to differentiate secondary characters from the mains, as above, is an art in itself.

And hey, check out the amazing ‘camera’ view from above here!

And again, great use of silhouette to evoke, not just a sense of mystery, but also as a way to lead the reader’s eye in to this character. Then we push in ever farther in the second panel to humanize Ursula’s character.

But hey, we’re just prolonging the anticipation of one of the greatest characters in comics… enter:

Judah Maccabee, the Hammer! Seriously, go find collections of Nexus and glory in this amazing guy. It’s not our intention here to present every panel of every issue of any comic; these stories are more than worth the asking price. But if this website introduces more people to great comics they might otherwise not have known about, then it’ll all have been worth it in the end!

Also, recognize that cowering table pose?

Steve Rude will always use perspective and camera angle to heighten a scene’s drama and action. Here the focus is drawn to Judah’s hand as it powers up with energy, and the inset panel of Nexus’s hand interrupting it — with accompanying color change! — is perfectly rendered.

And then these two panels that continue the scene… look at how the framework of the dividing wall puts the eye’s focus right where it should be: in the first panel, where Nexus is gripping Judah’s wrist. In the second panel, framing the astonishment of Judah’s face. This is next-level stuff, humans. You just don’t SEE this kind of composition anymore.

Rude also knows when to break panel, as in Judah’s sword above, and the shards of glass in the panel below.

Lothar’s comeuppance was only briefly interrupted. You might think that Rude could have used a more straightforward shot of Judah firing, but by showing him in the mirror, the artist maintains the placement of the characters in the room. His spatial sense is second to none, and it’s something not a lot of comic artists seem to care about.

And I don’t know if it’s in the script, but it’s a nice touch to show the couple on the left’s reaction to the violence. And again, Dorscheid’s colors help the eye visually identify where the focus should first be.

In Judah’s apartment, Nexus reflects on his own culpability for Judah’s chosen profession as “independent adjudicator”. It’s just one thought balloon, but that’s all that’s needed.

Rude’s characters display such natural body language, it’s a genuine pleasure to see. And this is the only nod to Judah’s name that the series gives.

Also of note are Steve Rude’s transitions. You see characters naturally entering and exiting rooms all throughout the series. And look how much he gets out of not even showing Nexus’s or Judah’s faces!

Remember the framing in the restaurant scene? Rude does it again here. He’s so thoughtful about composition it’s kind of ridiculous.

And then, in the midst of all this violence and drama, this bit of slapstick. This has to be part of the actual script, right?

The horrifying moment when Judah returns, headless. And not to detract from the horror, but look at the unusual pose Nexus displays here. You only get this kind of angle when you work from photos, I think. But you also have to have the kind of visual mind that invents this pose in the first place.

And if you don’t get a thrill from this scene, I don’t know what to tell you. But look at the careful attention to detail in the clothing of the background characters, and the way Nexus’s right pectoral tenses up! And I’m not sure, but that red-and-white costumed character behind Nexus HAS to be an homage to Beast Boy, right?

And finally, a look at the cover of the next issue of Nexus, all covers of which were painted by Steve Rude:

It’s a little crude, compared to what he would later execute, but look at the way he leads the eye’s focus from the brightest point to the darkest; from the green guy’s expression to Nexus’s bloodied face and cracked visor.

But we’re done with Nexus for now… honestly, I could rhapsodize about this series for the rest of forever, but this website is about more than this! Drop back in on Monday to see who we’re tackling next! Great Goulessarian… it’ll be fantastic!

Unearthed: Nexus Prelude 2

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We’re back with more black and white Nexus.

Dave’s tale of his past oppression brings us this masterful second panel. We can’t see the light source that’s generating those stark shadows on the wall, but it serves its purpose: somehow this scene is more brutal for it.

Look at the clever use of panels here: somehow it renders this space — which could have easily just been one long panel — as larger than a single panel would have made it.

The final panel here is a fun display of the varied sizes of the exclaimants.

But Mike Baron, the writer, is doing his work too. Nexus is on his way to assassinate Zieffer Mierd, a ruthless dictator of his people. But here Baron shows us a different side of him…

And here, after Mierd’s announcement, the reaction of the crowd, nicely varied and rendered by Rude.

Mierd loves his wife, and she kills herself to wait for him on the other side.

In the end, Nexus cannot bring himself to kill Mierd, but the thug who requested his death takes his shot himself. Rude uses his wide panels nicely here, and again, in the final panel, we see his love of unusual poses.

And Baron doesn’t let the matter rest there. He’s aware of the repercussions of Nexus’s non-action, on both sides.

A brief explanation of Nexus’s dreams. He dreams of mass murderers, and experiences each death personally.

He keeps having these dreams until he kills the person responsible. And in this case, he dreams of his own father.

Steve Rude has a wonderful sense of the drama of a scene. Few artists use silhouettes better than he does.

Baron also writes the most interesting dialogue. Sundra Peale, journalist and love interest, examines Nexus’s feelings about his first assassination, which was of his father. But in the next panel:

Nexus himself is the product of a Communist upbringing, but he’s also a voracious reader of philosophy, so we get some of that here.

Also, Mike Baron is a lover of puns.

TOMORROW! We dive head-first into the COLOR Nexus comics! By Grabthar’s hammer, the SAVINGS!

Unearthed: Nexus Prelude

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Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends… but probably will someday, let’s be honest. But today, we’re doing something different. Until now we’ve been making fun of older comics ’cause it’s entertaining and usually pretty easy. But we genuinely love comics, and specific comics in particular. So today we’re looking at Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus.

Now, there’s a bit of business at the top to take care of, here. Nexus began as a black and white comic published by Capital Comics. These earlier comics established Nexus as a character, his universe and his primary motivations. However, Steve Rude’s art, while definitely serviceable, wouldn’t come into its own fully until the later color comics. But let’s see some of the better points of the black and white stuff first.

Early Rude art here. His inks aren’t yet as refined as they’d later become; Nexus’s (the character facing us) left shoulder and bicep seem a little odd, as is the perspective in his reaching out. His shading techniques will even out as Rude defines his style.

Also, the line ‘See that my costume is laid out and pressed’ is emblematic of Mike Baron’s dialogue: he can go from serious to deadpan comedy between two balloons, and sometimes even in the same balloon. More to come.

An overhead shot of some complexity. In color, this might not read as confusingly, but already you can see Rude’s comfort with this extreme angle, especially in the figures.

Despite the scene before this one, look at the remarkable composition of these two panels. The dominant figure gets the heavy blacks because he’s the speaker giving the orders, but to his left, the wife is being escorted to safety. The henchman handing out the ammunition expresses a typically Rude-ian pose: his upper torso angled in an unusual way that nevertheless adds a dynamism to what might otherwise have been a dull, standard stance. This will be a repeated visual motif of Rude’s throughout the series.

In the second panel, a reverse shot that keeps the speaker’s clenched fist in view, emphasizing the urgency of the action. The two thugs look off to the right, anticipating Nexus’s grand entrance in the final panel of the page:

Power! But it’s not just the extreme angles displayed by the flying bodies to note, nor the superb anatomy rendering in the lower right corner that make this scene work. It’s the Dutch angle, the broken lights in the upper right corner, the petals falling off the plant in the lower left corner… and the deliberate lack of detail in Nexus as he blasts through in the middle. This isn’t the reveal, you see…

This is. And it’s funny to note this, but for us there’s a strange disconnection in rendering styles between the man on the table and Nexus himself. Vega, on the table, is wonderfully foreshortened and displayed in an abject pose, with some excellent shadowing.

Nexus, on the other hand, seems almost two-dimensional with his hatching-defined musculature and odd-looking pointing hand. And while this is one of our favorite costumes ever, the rendering of the oblique muscles above the belt line make the briefs section look like a gigolo affectation, especially when combined with the thigh-high boots. But again, Rude gets a grip on his style later as we’ll see.

It’s clear he does have a solid grasp of anatomy, and later we’ll see he does work from photographs of friends at times, but these early issues sees some forced work. The above sequence could easily have been just two panels; it works better without the thin middle panel.

But! Look at his masterful use of the reverse shot again. It’s not just for show, either. The top panel reintroduces the wife and puts the eye on Nexus’s growing power blast. The bottom panel gives us the payoff in a number of ways. Again, notice the poses he uses for the struck man and his wife in this panel. Dynamic and unusual, two words we’ll use again and again to refer to Steve Rude’s artwork throughout.

This nice sequence makes great use of eschewing the gutter between panels to emphasize the back and forth of the ‘camera’ to emphasize the chaos of the action, set off nicely by the balloonless exclamation of the soldier in the first panel.

And the final justification of Nexus’s violence, laying it on a bit thick, but putting a little mystery into the reader: how is this self-defense? Nexus as a story is more nicely complex than this first sequence would lead you to believe, and we’ll get to it!

This is just the start. It’s late, Real Life got so busy today I have to cut this short. But we’ll make it up by putting out a new episode tomorrow instead of Friday. Can’t wait to show you more Nexus!

Unearthed: Wonder Woman #1, Part Three

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Ready for more Diana? I can’t help you if you aren’t. It’s not my problem. You were raised poorly.

Steve-O shows just enough self-awareness to know he’s done wrong, but not enough to not have done it.

If you don’t play nicely, sir, no more dark hole for YOU! HURR HURR HURR… sorry, too soon?

So, to recap: Freddy here has made off with Diana’s magic lasso, which compels people to do what the holder wants.

And I’m telling you, this is how fetishes begin… on BOTH sides of the equation.

Normally, Diana LOVES to be arrested. I’m not even kidding. Future episodes will reveal this. Guess you better stick around to see ’em!

Mama shows us all the way! LET’S ALL BECOME INSUBORDINATE!

“Oh, uh… geez, really? We’d do anything for you, WW, but… fidelity? Aw man, do we gotta?”

In my mind, in addition to her expression, she’s doing a DUHHHH voice.

THE RETURN OF ETTA CANDY! Let’s see if you can guess Etta’s main character trait.

Her brother’s name is Mint Candy. Yes.

Diana, displaying the nonchalant “not my problem” that Peter Parker did when he let that gunman go by… and look what happened to him! Diana! You should know better!

Cripes, Moulton, do you not know ANY Black folks?

Oh, Etta, you complete me.

You know, she has a point.

Okay… okay. First, is Mint saying non-beautiful girls are okay to throw down a mine shaft? And second, is Diana jealous?

Putting you down a mine shaft: the ultimate negging technique.

Cripes, Mint, you JUST MET. I know you took a blow to the head, but please! KIDS are reading this! Get her to sign a pre-nup first!

You don’t get too many ‘hussey’s these days.

Hyp — hypnotizes? Why? Is this a canonical superpower of hers?

This being the 1940s, the anti-Japanese sentiment is explicable. But knowing Marston’s kink predilections, is he making this Japanese villain his mouthpiece in a weird way?

That’s a really weird comment, Diana. “Too lazy to jump”? You don’t think they just weren’t agile enough to do it?

And ANOTHER fetish is born.

You’re… going to sneak attack American ships? I don’t think “do a Pearl Harbor” means what you think it means, Diana.

Aphrodite gets her love energy any way she possibly can.

And that’s Wonder Woman #1! Wednesday we’ll be doing something a little different. We genuinely love comics; that’s what this site’s all about! So rather than mockery, we’ll be taking a look at some great comic stuff! Stay tuned!

Unearthed: Wonder Woman #1, PART 2

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Welcome back for more Wonder Woman shenanigans! Now that we’ve established who she is, it’s time for some standard adventures. But first, we finish up on Paradise Island…

Yeah… why the invisible plan again?

This is hardly the worst depiction of non-White people in this comic, as you’ll see in a bit. Of course, we know what the American world view was like in 1942, and “it was a different time” can stretch pretty far, but it’s still shocking sometimes to see it rendered so obviously like this.

Okay, here’s another example. I mean… this artist doesn’t have the most realistic style to begin with but… hooooo.

Well, it’s obviously THIS guy’s fault. Or IS IT? *lightning crashes*

And here, some language straight outta the mists of history… that you can probably still hear today if you look for it.

Yay! Wonder Woman will save the lady trapped beneath the elephant by landing ON the elephant!

For the life of me, I can’t think of anything funny to say about this panel.

“They won’t do that, Wonder Woman. This whole show is for charity to begin with, and –“

“Then y’all can just kiss my star-studded ass. This woman don’t work her wonders for FREE.”

Yup. Checks out.

Oh my god, someone stop her! She’s gone MAD!

Wonder Woman: not too rough with pussy.

Enter… ETTA CANDY! Etta’s the best character ever created. You’ll see.

I’m confused by this guy’s extremely specific accent. He can say ‘nerve’ okay, but not ‘deserve’?

You know what, Etta, a TON of people would pay good money to be behind Diana like this. Shut up and enjoy it.

This is why I love Etta Candy.

Even for this artist’s dodgy art style, this is a bridge too far, surely.

Yup. Just like elephants have always done with their children since time immemorial.

Etta! FOCUS!

Oh, Wonder Woman, no.

“I enjoy watching you sleep, Steve!”

“What’s that, now?”

“I said nothing.”

More Wonder Woman to come next Monday, because Friday will see episode 3 of Marvel Retold! Be there or lose hair! Or something.

Unearthed: Wonder Woman #1, PART 1

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Welcome, True Believers! You’re in for a special treat today! Many of you may know Wonder Woman only as Gal Gadot… others will know both her and Lynda Carter… but it’s safe to say that only a small number of you will have read this issue from 1942, written by William Moulton Marston (in the comic as Charles Moulton) and drawn by Harry Peter, these early adventures are quite unlike anything you might expect. Let’s dive in!

YES those are Nazis, the perfect comic book villains. You can do whatever you want to ’em and nobody cares! But let’s step back in history for a bit, to see how Diana came to be.

Quick note here: putting that panel in the left corner is a bit of a comics storytelling gaffe… at least for American readers, who read from left to right. You’d expect to lead the reader to the right corner instead. Bit’ve a nitpick. On we go!

I love Diana telling a man he wouldn’t understand.

Haha! “Get my goat!” GET IT? Naw, you… you don’t get it. No, it’s over your head. Move on.

Why “Amazons”? Unless we’ve been mispronouncing it this entire time and it’s supposed to be “amaze-ons”.

I’m DYING to say this to someone, complete with double snaps.

Remember: this comic was written BY a man. William Moulton Marston’s story is a fascinating one. Go check out “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women“, now on Amazon!

Hippolyte, no! That’s the oldest trick in the book! One of the interesting things about this is that it’s not an outright rejection of men, which would be a more simplistic rendition.

If you’ve ever wondered why Diana wears those wristbands, here you go. Didn’t know they were meant to represent manacles, did you? Again: go read up on Marston, it’s fascinating stuff!

Who can blame them? I want to escape men too, and I AM one.

Does she have an Etsy page?

You can just see the hard choice coming, can’t you? Also, I never noticed this until just now, but that bush in the background is just a bunch of scribbles!

“Those mysterious things called “men”! Can they really suck as much as Hippolyte keeps saying?”

DIANA IS A STEM GIRL. Also, look at her adorable goggles.

See, Hippolyte is just like any mother, worried about her daughter’s attachment to a man. Also, notice the casual drop here of Diana’s invisible plane. Just… just go with it.

Well there you have it.

The… mental radio? Did Marston invent video conferencing too?

Okay, ESPN, please add this to your regular programming.

HER NAME IS FATSIS

A weight off your chest. Oh, VERY good.

“Expect to be wounded!” is my new battle cry.

These days I believe they’ve made Diana actually bulletproof, which isn’t as cool.

BEST SPANX EVER

This is as good a place as any to end Part One of our look at Wonder Woman #1. Return on Wednesday for Part Two, in which Diana travels to America! EXCELSIOR!

Unearthed: Fantastic Four #3

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Well well well, look what the cat dragged in! … … Me. It’s me. The cat overwhelmed me, I was helpless before her. Anyway, today we’re looking at Fantastic Four #3, but this one’s actually a bit different than the usual Stan Lee nonsense… there’s some drama and mystery! Let’s get to it:

The skyscraper’s secret is that it’s rent-controlled.

So if I can float in the air, I can do anything. And the bar for calling something a ‘miracle’ is awfully low here. I’d also like to point out that there’s no credit here for the letterer or colorist, or even editor. Pretty sure Kirby isn’t coloring his own work, but he probably is inking himself.

Typical recap section for new readers, but here’s a cool thing that only comics does: as you can see from the first and second panels, we’re looking at the same scene, divided in time by the panel gutters. That’s the essence of comic books: presenting temporal space using physical space.

But in this sequence, Sue and Reed are inhabiting the same space, so Kirby is playing with both time and space here. It’s a neat trick that only comics can pull off. Alan Moore uses it to great effect in many of his later work, too.

Why is the Thing still bothering to wear clothes? Does he not realize that a gigantic lumbering person wearing heavy clothes, hat, sunglasses, and a scarf to completely hide their face is just as suspicious and threatening to the average passerby as what he actually looks like? And hey: the FF isn’t a secret. The world knows they exist. So why cover up? Don’t want people to see you? Just don’t go outside, I reckon.

Sorry, I’m being insensitive to the… rock… enabled.

This is a hilarious expression.

“It’s time for me to take this dramatic flashlight off the floor!”

Man, Kirby expressions KILLING IT in this issue.

When I was a kid I LOVED these cut-way panels. As a broad characterization, boys love functionality. They love things that DO something. So seeing the potential of all these rooms and technology would always send me into flights of imagination where I invented all kinds of crazy adventures.

Once again, Kirby draws the coolest monsters.

This issue features the first costumes. And though Sue says “colorful”, they’re really all just blue.

But! Something to note: superheroes typically have unique costumes that identify themselves. Here, the FF have actual uniforms that show they’re part of a team with a unified look. There’s something to this that makes the FF different from other superhero teams… they’re not just heroes fighting crime, they’re an organization dedicated to exploring and uncovering mysteries, like the Challengers of the Unknowns (which we’ll get to sooner or later!). They’re science-based, so their use of uniforms makes sense, in ways that other hero outfits don’t.

Sue was ahead of her time with her unisex outfits. But that helmet for the Thing… kick it to the curb, sister!

It’s fascinating to go back to these old issues and see Kirby’s work evolve. Compare this panel to anything in the Avengers issues we’ve already covered. The texture on the monster’s legs ALONE is far advanced.

It was really nice of the Miracle Man to format his note to perfectly fit the angle with which the Commissioner is holding it.

Also, apparently the FF work for the Commissioner now?

Reed fights monsters and superhumans, and he’s taken out by one guy with a brick. HE HAS A RUBBER SKULL.

This also reminds me of the old Superman black and white show, in which Supes would stand there as a gangster drills him with bullets, but once the bullets run out and the gangster THROWS the gun at him, Superman DUCKS.

You know, it’s bad when the Commissioner is angry with you, but it’s so much worse when he’s disappointed.

Got to… fight it… must… warn… others…

… DAD?!

SISTERS ARE DOIN’ IT FOR THEMSELVES

Recap: Sue creates an outfit for the Thing, only to have him rip it off himself “so I can move!” He actually rips it off. And now here he is in ANOTHER uniform? He hates them! Why is he wearing another one?

Also: holy cats, that lamp.

“Guys! Guys! C’mon! I bet the AVENGERS don’t fight like this!”

“Unless Hawkeye’s on the team.”

“… okay.”

Marvel Presents: Amazing Emotional Adventures, Issue 5!

Okay, but… why not just hold a damn gun on them from the start? Why’s it gotta be a novelty oversized key? How’s that help ANYTHING?

Also, you KNOW you can’t hurt the Thing, and Mister Fantastic’s body is made of rubber, essentially… although, you did take him out with a BRICK, earlier, so…

Okay, what? When did he do THAT? Man, the unnecessary things Lee puts into his scripts.

You know, there was just an inventiveness to the older comics that you just can’t get anymore. You’d never see Reed do this these days.

Johnny, you just MELTED HER EYES FROM THEIR SOCKETS.

This is kind of a cool reveal, but… what about the cars that swerved out of the way and crashed, reacting to the giant monster? What about the soldiers who fired actual ammunition into it? What’d THEY hit? Not to mention whatever the Thing and the Torch destroyed while pursuing it?

The FF walk off into the sunset, laughing, while New York burns behind them.

Jeez, Reed, the Miracle Man took him out really easily earlier with chemical foam. That too tough for your big brain to handle?

And that’s it for the Fantastic Four… for NOW. Monday we’ll be back with a new title! What’ll it be… Marvel? DC? Something else entirely? Tune in and find out, True Believers!

Unearthed: Fantastic Four #2

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Welcome back as we usher in the era of the Skrulls! Those of you who only know of them through the MCU might be surprised at their lowly origins here. But fret not! They grow in stature and prominence throughout the Marvel Universe over the decades, eventually becoming one of the Great Alien Races. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Let’s just begin with the cover, shall we?

Almost adorable, aren’t they? But oh, so full of mischief, they are.

Take a good look at Thing’s ear here; you may never see it again.

Quick catch-up: crimes are being committed all over the city by what appears to be the Fantastic Four. Including…

… the melting of this marble statue. Yes. Somehow the Torch has melted marble. That’s a crime of an entirely different sort.

As is this! Holy cats, Reed TURNED OFF THE LIGHTS! What’ll we — oh, wait, the technician just turned them back on. Oh. Okay, we’re fine.

So you… set yourself on FIRE just to impersonate the Torch? Wow! J’onn J’onzz would be so impressed!

Oiks! Here’s my question: the Skrulls can change shape into anything. Why do they look like THIS? Or, rather, why do they all look the SAME? Is this some government-mandated effort against appearance-related tall poppy syndrome? Or, on the Skrull homeworld, is this considered the height of beauty?

These are the questions that drive us.

It’s because you paired that lavender hat with that royal blue coat, Thing. C’mon, man, you have to TRY.

Bear Head: FREEDOM! HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE FREEDOM!

Wondering how Reed’s clothes stretch along with his arms? Shut up, that’s how!

“Plum Squad, deploy to the right! Pumpkin Orange Squad, flank left! Yellow Squad will guard the rear — yes, AGAIN. Sh-shut up! We’re not COWARDS! That’s — that’s not why we’re called Yellow Squad! I — I’m telling SARGE!”

Escape in 3, 2, 1…

I really enjoy pointing out dumb Stan Lee plot points whenever they occur. Here we go:

Yo, Torch, bursting into flames wasn’t the problem. You weren’t in an air-tight room. How did you melt through that asbestos? You know, that flame-proof stuff you YOURSELF mentioned in the last panel?

You… you DO know what ‘invisible’ means, right?

“And now I’ll carefully screw it back into place and remain in my cell! Fair’s fair, they caught us, after all!”

You’ve set the entire BASE afire. Are you… SURE you’re the innocent ones here?

Okay, now’s the time to mention that at this time in comic book history, this kind of inter-team bickering and hostility was a new thing. Why, you’d never see the Justice League behaving like this! How do I know? Check it out!

Recap: the FF decide to smoke out the Skrulls by pretending to be one of them. And apparently the fact that they all look the same works to their disadvantage here, because they couldn’t even tell Johnny wasn’t one of them. Or they don’t talk to each other ever. Or something, whatever, Stan Lee.

UNNECESSARY DRAMATIC LIGHTING

“Got to… FIGHT it! Must… warn… others…”

It must really rankle the Thing to be constantly wrapped up in Reed’s arms like this, right? Or… OR… this is why Ben gets so riled up all the time… for some sweet, sweet stretchy lovin’! I have cracked the case.

UNNECESSARY DRAMATIC LI– wait, how is he even DOING that?

What would a GUILTY water tower look like? Goatee?

Okay, okay, time out. Reed is claiming these to be photos of Earth’s actual defenses and the lead Skrull is buying it. Stan, are you saying that these guys can’t recognize a drawing? Or that they’re scared of monsters, even though they THEMSELVES can become any kind of creature?

So anyway, Reed fools the Skrulls into leaving earth, and they come back to Earth in the spaceship they commandeered. On the way, they pass back through some kind of radiation belt, and Ben briefly becomes human again. And then this. Cripes, the poor guy, right? Sadly, this whole pathos angle gets shunted aside in the years to come, getting resurrected every now and then just for a quick, cheap stab at sentimentality. But man, he looks so DOWN in that final panel, dun’t’e?

How… is he holding on to the building?

Okay, well, there goes my earlier supposition that this is the Skrull epitome of beauty.

Promise you –? You don’t get to make demands! 10 seconds ago you were begging Reed not to KILL YOU.

Is it wrong that the thing I’m most drawn to in this panel is that weird, leaning tree?

And there you have it! The Fantastic Four #2! Friday we get to see #3, and hoo boy, you’re gonna wanna be here for THAT!

Please be here for that.