So today is, evidently, the 50th birthday of the Fantastic Four.
Well, really, that's just our best guess. August 8, 1961 is the most common cover-stamp date to be found on surviving copies of the first issue. Dealers would stamp the arrival date of new magazines on the cover, to better keep track of how long certain issues sat on the rack, and there are far more August 8th stamps than any other:
Thanks, Bleeding Cool!
But, hell! Any excuse to celebrate the Fantastic Four sounds good to me! FF is my favorite funnybook series of all time, bar none. I love the characters, I love the concepts, I love the villains... And I love the strip's early years best of all. So I thought I'd celebrate 50 years of the best damn funnybook ever by slapping up a few memorable covers, pin-ups, and oddities from the classic Stan Lee / Jack Kirby era that launched the book. Starting with, of course, the full cover to that first issue...
Kind of a piss-poor way to start off The World's Greatest Comic Magazine, huh? It looks a little rushed to me. The composition isn't Kirby's best, the backgrounds are kind of sketchy, the Thing's back is to the camera... I mean, the mole monster is pretty awesome, and I still wish they drew the Human Torch with that kind of flame detail now. But overall... Eh.
Lots of really fascinating comics material has come out in the last little bit: Grant Morrison's Supergods, Ray Fawkes' One Soul, Dave McKean's Celluloid, Jim Woodring's Congress of the Animals, the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen... All great books deserving of in-depth reviews. But honestly? I'm a little too tired from my day job right now to discuss them with the sort of intelligence they deserve. So instead, I think I'll just engage in something we haven't seen too much of around the nerd farm lately: straight-up reviews. That's right. It's that time again: FUNNYBOOKSINREVIEWAREGO!!!
Batman Incorporated #7 by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham
You knew I had to start with Batman, right?
With all the over-arching plot and mysteries in this book, surrounding not only the evil bad guys' schemes but also Batman's own, it's easy to forget that, really, Batman Incorporated is all about Grant Morrison having fun with some of the goofier aspects of the Bat-Myth. Nowhere is that more clear than in this issue, which is a low-rent re-working of RIP, on the rez, starring Chief Man-of-Bats. It's touching and funny, and embraces the ridiculousness of the character...
Riding. A. Buffalo.
...while still acknowledging the very real problems facing the Native American population. I came away from the issue feeling like Man-of-Bats, for all his limitations, might just help more people on a real, personal level than Batman himself ever has. As Bats himself says, "It doesn't have to take millions... The idea just works."
Grade: A- Detective Comics # 879 by Scott Snyder and Francesco Francavilla
Decided to give Snyder's Detective run another try, and was impressed. The story, about Jim Gordon looking into the supposed rehabilitation of his son, James Jr, was a tense, low-key little mystery story with a sad and kind of terrifying ending. I did spend much of the story kind of confused, since I was under the impression that James Jr was dead, when he's instead, apparently, a psychopath. The Wikipedia didn't entirely clear things up for me, either; it confirmed his not-deadness, but said nothing about him being crazy. Of course, the same entry (for Commissioner Gordon himself) also fed me some kind of convoluted bullshit about Barbara Gordon not being the Commissioner's biological daughter, which made me want to take this whole weird Gordon family history and chuck it out a window from a very great height.