Posts Tagged ‘Fantastic Four’

Posted Friday, June 21st, 2019 by Barry

Franklin Richards: Summer Smackdown! (2008)

Today is the first day of summer. Not a Hallmark holiday – though there probably is a card you can buy – but, a true holiday on my calendar.

Today marks the triumph over another winter. Today is a reaffirmation of what we suffered under layers of clothing in the early days of this year. Today we can sing hosannas in the highest while bathed in the warming rays of another summer.

Franklin Richards: Summer Smackdown! (2008)

Franklin Richards: Summer Smackdown! (2008)

And, what better way to enjoy this day than with the first born of Marvel’s First family, the Fantastic Four?

Granted, this incarnation of Franklin Richards if out-of-continuity. This is not the Franklin born in FF annual six. But, a funner version. This Franklin, paired with the ever-faithful H.E.R.B.I.E., have a Calvin and Hobbes vibe as they adventure through the Marvel U.

This Franklin debuted in his first special, The Fantastic Four Presents Franklin Richards in November of 2005. His next appearance was April of 2006 in Everybody Loves Franklin, more of a Valentine’s Day tribute. From there Franklin became Marvel’s emcee of holidays with his first Super Summer Spectacular and Happy Franksgiving both the same year. Other holiday classics included Monster Mash in 2007, Spring Break and this Summer Smackdown for 2008 and April Fools in 2009.

Franklin hosted the unofficial March Madness holiday in 2007 and Fall Football Fiasco, a prelude to Super Sunday, in 2008. School’s Out is the last of the specials, released in 2009.

Other one-shots include World Be Warned in 2007 and the across-the-Marvel-Universe tie ins:  Not-So-Secret Invasion in July 2008 and It’s Dark Reigning Cats and Dogs in April of 2009.

Each special was broken down into four-to-five-page shorts. Mom, Dad, Uncle Johnny and Ben would make guest appearances as would other members of the Marvel Universe. Marc Steven Sumerak and Chris Eliopoulos handled scripting chores while Eliopoulos also took care of the penciling, inking, coloring and lettering.

Okay, now that you’ve fulfilled your commitment to us at Four Color Holidays, go enjoy this, the longest day of the year. When the sun finally dips below the horizon, maybe break out some Franklin Richards specials and remember what it is to be a kid again.

Posted Thursday, April 4th, 2019 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special (2005)

Marvel recycled the cover and stories for its Marvel Holiday Special trade, but the original 2005 one-shot was all original.

Marvel Holiday Special (2005)

Marvel Holiday Special (2005)

Shaenon K. Garrity serves up a jaunty pre-Christmas tale with shades of Citizen Kane. The Fantastic Four and Namor celebrate the holiday to satisfy an aggrieved Moleman’s childhood fancy in “Moleman’s Christmas.”

The disgruntled youth’s misgiving-theme is continued in “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santatron.” Spider-Man swings in late for the annual Avenger’s Christmas party. An unexpected – and unwanted – guest arrives in a Tannenbaum trimmed Trojan horse. Heroes prove their mettle as they circumvent the intrusion with a confederate confection.

Marvel’s holiday season comes to a close with “Christmas Day in Manhattan.” A rhythmic recital has the Fantastic Four saving another holiday from a poor-intentioned father. Their mercy provides presents for the innocents.

This 2005 edition is a worthy addition to any collector’s repository. A goodly portion of the Marvel U appears in either leading rolls or in cameos. The stories are heartwarming without being saccharine and the feeling of the season is almost tangible.

Posted Thursday, February 7th, 2019 by Barry

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

DC beat Marvel to the holiday punch with the first of the Christmas specials beginning in 1974.

The Marvel Treasury Special was released Nov. 26 of that year on the heels of DC’s Limited Collector’s Edition (C-34) that hit newsstands Nov. 7.

Whereas DC had decades of material to draw from, Marvel had a little over 10-years worth of stories to plumb.

Naturally “Have Yourself a Sandman Little Christmas!” led the list.

It was a reprint from Marvel Team-Up issue one starring Spider-Man and the Human Torch battling Sandman. A sappy story that brought out the season in both heroes who allowed Sandman to visit his mother on Christmas Eve.  The good deed does not go unpunished leading both heroes to a continuation of the story in issue two.

The remainder of the book is what the title promised:  a grab-bag.

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

In “Mortal Combat with…Sub-Mariner” is reprinted from Daredevil issue seven. Namor makes land fall to seek out Matt Murdock to serve as his lawyer. The sea prince wishes to sue the surface world for its exploitation of the other three quarters of the Earth.  Murdock’s alter ego is called upon when he refuses to take the case.

Black Widow stars in the next story taken from Amazing Adventures (1970) issue five. An unremarkable story. Maybe the most noteworthy of the book is Neal Adam’s assumption of penciling chores on the Inhuman’s story.

Fantastic Four issues 25 and 26, a two-part tale, finish out the book. The Thing and Hulk go toe-to-toe in issue 25 with the Avengers guest starring in the second part.

Far from the holiday specials to come in the 1990s, but at least setting a precedence for the company.

Posted Monday, January 29th, 2018 by Barry

Spider-Man’s Tangled Web 21

Darwyn Cooke turned in what has become a festive favorite for Christmas 2003.

Under the appropriately named Tangled Web imprint, Spider-Man shares the title with no less than the Fantastic Four and Medusa and Crystal from the Inhumans.

Spider-Man’s Tangled Web 21

Spider-Man’s Tangled Web 21

When a snowstorm shuts the city down on Christmas Eve, Spidey indulges in a seasonal sulk when Mary Jane is stranded in Philadelphia. Rescuing a busload of orphans alleviates some of the self-pity.

J. Jonah Jameson is none too thrilled to learn Peter Parker has spent the Bugle’s money on Spider-Man action figures and even less so when he learned his freelance photographer had forgotten the gift for Jameson’s wife.

In the meantime, Sue Storm, Jane VanDyne and Crystal’s shopping trip is interrupted by a robbery at Macey’s. Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four appear for a confusing slugfest culminating in a happy ending for all but the Puppet Master who masterminded the crime.

Cooke is best known for deconstructing the comic books he grew up with including the bridge between the Golden and Silver Age of comics, New Frontier, in 2004.

 

Posted Tuesday, December 5th, 2017 by Barry

Marie Christmas

Marie Severin didn’t date this pin-up, but I’d put it somewhere between 1970 and 1972 based on the characters in evidence. This may be the only time Conan experienced Christmas.

Marie Christmas

Posted Monday, November 13th, 2017 by Barry

Franklin Richards “Everyone Loves Franklin” (2006)

Four shorts bookended by Christmas tales. No Christmas cover, though.

The first born of Marvel’s First Family makes his own adventures away from his famous parents, uncle and Godfather. Most of Franklin’s sugar-fueled adventures involve good intentions, but quickly pave the way to frantic escapades.

Franklin Richards “Everyone Loves Franklin” (2006)

Posted Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special (2007) TPB

Marvel Holiday Special 2011 TPB

Marvel Holiday Special 2011 TPB

The early days of the Christmas Treasury Editions and their skimpy Santa’s bag of holiday stories were long past when Marvel published this volume.

Each of the offerings is a reprint beginning with “Have Yourself a Sandman Little Christmas” from Marvel Team-Up 1 followed by “Demon” from Uncanny X-Men 143. The remainder of the book pulls from either the 2004 and 2005 Marvel Holiday Specials.

Of course the first two stories are a glimpse of Merry Marvel of old, but the newer offerings provide a look at how far the House of Ideas has come.

Posted Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 by Barry

Fantastic Four (1961) 361

Ben Grimm is the star of this Christmas tale as he takes leave of Marvel’s first family for a holiday outing to haunt his former neighborhood to help an old friend.

Dr. Doom appears long enough to justify his spot on the cover and Stan Lee dusts off an old soap box and trims it in Christmas colors as 1991 passes to history.

Fantastic Four (1961) 361

Posted Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 by Barry

Fantastic Four 240

Not really a Christmas issue beyond the opening pages showing Ben Grimm attempting to hide presents for his nephew Franklin.

An argument could be made that the story does involve miracles such as the Inhumans launching Attailan to the moon where they take up residence and Quicksliver and Crystal’s child being born a human as their mutant and Attailan blood cancel the other out.

But, those are normal events in the Marvel Universe.

Fantastic Four 240

Posted Friday, March 31st, 2017 by Barry

Marvel Two-In-One 8 and 74

Marvel Two-In-One 8

Marvel Two-In-One 8

Marvel Two-In-One is a great title.

This is the second Marvel team up book, featuring the other ol’ blue eyes, Ben Grimm the ever lovin’ Thing. Each month Ben was teamed with a flavor of the month, normally one of Marvel’s lesser-known characters from Brother Voodoo to the Impossible Man to Quasar.

As I said, Marvel Two-In-One was a great title; just not it’s two holiday offerings.

The first homage to the happiest of holidays came early on in issue eight guest starring Ghost Rider.

This recreation of immaculate-conception for power purposes is best bought for the cover.

Marvel Two-In-One 74

Marvel Two-In-One 74

Issue 74 offers a promising beginning as the FF and Ben’s longtime girlfriend, Alicia Masters, finish their holiday shopping and ready for the annual Christmas party at the Baxter Building with friends. If the story had just been about the party, it would’ve been more interesting. This could’ve been a very touching Christmas story with Marvel’s first family and friends, but in the mid-1970s readers wanted action.

Again, buy this one for the cover and first few pages.

If you wanna read a good Marvel Two-In-One story, try issues 46, 60, 96 or annual seven. They may not be Christmas stories, but they pack more clobber.