Thursday, October 14, 2010

Done in One: Fantastic Four in... ¡Ataque del M.O.D.O.K.!

In case you were wondering, to get that upside-down exclamation mark, hold down the alt button and press 173 on the number pad. Now that you done got learned, let’s talk about comics.

Fantastic Four in... ¡Ataque del M.O.D.O.K.! 

Written by Tom Beland, and illustrated by Jaun Doe. Beland and Doe have previously teamed up to work on “Fantastic Four: Isla De La Muerte” (2007) and “Spider-Man/Human Torch: !Bahia De Los Muertos!” (2009) both of which have our heroes travelling to or vacationing in Puerto Rico. FFAM follows this trend of tropical adventures, this time with Reed Richards and Susan Storm on a husband and wife getaway. Unfortunately, a series of high-tech capers have the local police baffled, and they turn to Richards to help them solve the case. 

Two small critiques: It’s always tricky to represent characters switching between two different languages, but one of my pet peeves is when a character’s dialogue is written in English, but with foreign words thrown in, usually exclamations. For example, in the beginning of the book we have two Puerto Rican policemen speaking to each other. Now, since we are all logical human beings, we assume that they’re speaking Spanish, but because it’s an English audience we have their dialogue written in English. But they throw out words like “qué?” and “DIOS!” occasionally. Some books get around this by having all foreign languages parenthesized with angle brackets (the greater-than and less-than symbols), but here the random Spanish is just there, and it’s a pet peeve.

Second pet peeve: when characters and background are inked/rendered so differently that it looks like pictures floating on other pictures instead of a single drawing. Example:

El  Vejigante’s hand does not look like it’s resting on the hood of the car. It looks like it’s hovering several inches in front of the headlights. But I’m going to chalk that up to the colorists, because the rest of the art in the book is fantastic. 

With those minor complaints out of the way, let’s get down to the awesome. Beland writes a great sci-fi caper involving genetically altered monkeys, El Vejigante’s origin and search for redemption, and a heartwarming look at the secret origin of Richards’ superhero name, “Mr Fantastic.” The dialogue is sharp and funny, and even the requisite “heroes meet for the first time and have a misunderstanding” fight (which is not so much a cliché as it is a sacred ritual in team-up books) is done in an endearing fashion.
Juan Doe’s art is amazing.  Check this out:

Take note of the inertia in panel one, and the use of silhouettes in panels three and four. It’s always interesting to see how different artists interpret The Invisible Woman’s powers, and I love Doe’s black and blue panels with white outlines. They look sort of like blueprints.

What’s really impressive is Doe’s use of shading and shapes during El Vejigante’s extended flashback and origin:

“Fantastic Four in... ¡Ataque del M.O.D.O.K.!” is an example comics done right. If Marvel gave Beland and Doe an El Vejigante series set in Puerto Rico and consisted of him teaming up with various vacationing heroes, I would buy that in a heartbeat.

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