Saturday, 17 August 2013

New releases: Essential Fantastic Four volume 9

Just a quick update post to note the release this week of Essential Fantastic Four volume 9, which contains issues #184-188 & #190-207 of the series plus Annual #12-13. Issue #207 contains a substantial guest appearance by Spider-Man. I've now added my thoughts on the issue (and the volume's cover) to the post More non-essential Spider-Man Essentials but for those who follow this blog by subscribing, here they are as well.

Fantastic Four #207, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Sal Buscema, reprinted in Essential Fantastic Four volume 9

This issue sees Peter on his first photo assignment for the Daily Globe and might have made a reasonable addition to Essential Spider-Man volume 9 because it shows him being hired by the Daily Globe, a precise point jumped over a bit in Amazing #194. In the space of less than one page Peter enters the Globe office, gets put on the salaried staff with an understanding about his time commitments and sent on his first assignment! Said assignment involves obtaining photographs of the students at Security College, a specialist institution for the offspring of the rich and famous who might otherwise be subject to kidnap attempts, including one Johnny Storm. The debate on journalism ethics has come a long way in the last three decades so it may just be the passage of time, but I was surprised Peter so readily accepted an assignment that effectively involves intrusion of privacy, even if he is photographing students out and about on the campus rather than in their private rooms. During the course of his attempts he discovers that the students are being hypnotised and used for nocturnal stealing by the Fantastic Four's old foe the Monocle. He convinces the Human Torch this is happening and they bring down the operation. The Monocle himself escapes the two heroes, but he'd tried to break away from the Enclave who blow up his rocket. All in all this issue feels rather awkward. The rest of the Fantastic Four don't appear at all as they're off on the planet Xander dealing with the left-over events from Nova and although Johnny's attendance at Security College was built up in previous issues, the whole thing feels as though it was scripted as a potential (fill-in?) issue of Marvel Team-Up. This is probably the reason why we get such a rushed introduction to Peter's career at the Globe and in the wrong series to boot – the script probably originally had him receiving a standard assignment but then the issue went out at a very awkward point in his own titles for this. However that doesn't excuse running part of a major development in Peter's life in another series.

Also in the volume are the issues which carry on the plotlines that were left outstanding at the end of Essential Nova volume 1.

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