Comics : Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #1

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This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

Background? What background? It's a brand-new four issue limited series featuring Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. (Don't you love the spiffy little "Marvel Limited Series" logo with the "L" of "Limited" and the last "S" of "Series" elongated so that they form the "LS" of "Limited Series"? Every time I see it, it tickles me.) Maybe I should use this section to place this story in continuity except, in this case, the continuity is as insubstantial as the background. Spidey seems only vaguely aware of the Silver Surfer even though he first met him in Silver Surfer #14, March 1970. So it feels like the story takes place before that except the Impossible Man turns into the Spider-Mobile, not unveiled until Amazing Spider-Man #130, March 1974 and his planet has already been consumed by Galactus, which didn't happen until Fantastic Four #175, October 1976. Oh, and Reed and Sue Richards have two kids. You get the idea.

In Detail...

"The Arrival"
Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #1
Jun 2007 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man co-stars
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Writer:  Jeff Parker
Pencils:  Mike Wieringo
Inker:  Wade von Grawbadger
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Magazine (Vol. 3) #1

Spider-Man begins his evening saving some whacko who claims that aliens abducted him, then had his teeth replaced with melted down Krugerrands to throw the aliens off his track. He carelessly shows his gold teeth to two strangers who try to take them from him until the web-slinger intervenes. (I sure hope there's going to be more to this character than this inane scene. Or maybe I don't.) Soon after, Spidey sees the Silver Surfer gliding by and swings up to speak to him. But the Surfer turns out to be the Impossible Man in Surfer guise and he eventually remembers that he took the Surfer's form as a reminder to warn the Earth of an impending alien invasion. (Or maybe just to plug the "Rise of the Silver Surfer".) Sure enough, a big spaceship lands in Central Park (aren't they always landing in Central Park?) and a fellow called the Imperator (who looks like Lippy the Lion in armor) steps out. He sets up a communication device that projects an image of an alien who looks like either Thing 1 or Thing 2 from "The Cat in the Hat". This alien declares that Earth has been chosen "as the thirteen-thousandth, seven hundredth and forty-third host of the race known as H'Mojen", adding that "Your populace and ours will merge into one great conglomeration of beings". In other words, Earth will be "H'Mojenized". Spidey and Impy both try to fight the Imperator but Spidey is smacked around pretty good and Impy is apparently destroyed.

The next morning, at the Baxter Building, the Thing and the Human Torch indulge in some of their usual practical joke rivalry when a badly-beaten Spidey shows up at the door. (We know he's badly-beaten because his mask is torn and some of his hair sticks out.) He warns the FF about the H'Mojen. The Thing and Torch duke it out with the Imperator to no avail until the alien tells them that the invaders are not his people ("I simply work for them") and the true invaders are "already here". They look and see... something. A giant spaceship? A whole bunch of big spaceships? A bunch of black spots in front of their eyes? You got me.

In General...

I'm not all that familiar with Jeff Parker's writing but what I've seen of it, I've enjoyed. That's why I'm confident that this mini-series was not his idea. I can't imagine that he stepped into the Marvel offices and pitched this story. Most likely, it was a business decision. With "Spider-Man 3" and "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" coming out this Summer, I'm sure someone with a spreadsheet thought a mini-series combining the two would be a great idea. Then Jeff was probably offered the gig and asked if he had any ideas. And Jeff probably said, "Um... yeah. How about... aliens! Yeah, yeah, aliens! That... get this... that land in Central Park!"

I hope I'm being unfair here. I hope the next three issues put this one to shame. (I've intentionally avoided reading #2 until I finish the review for #1.) As it stands now, though, it looks like little more than a forced team-up of Spidey and the FF against a bland (one could say "H'Mojenized") alien foe. (Aren't there enough alien races in the Marvel Universe that we had to be given another one?) There are some nice moments such as when Impy walks past the kissing couple in the park and turns off the woman by simulating pregnancy only to have the man shake his fist and say, "Thanks a lot, Spider-Man! Ya menace!" but it's far from enough. And what is the deal with the guy with the gold teeth showing them to perfect strangers? I believe in the Impossible Man more than I believe in this guy.

I've always enjoyed Mike Wieringo's somewhat "cartoony" style of penciling and it works great here with Spidey and Impy but, as I said, his aliens are a little to "Seussy" for my tastes. I hope he has more of a story to illustrate over the next three issues. And I'm sure he'll let us know what we were looking at in that last panel.

Overall Rating...

When I agreed to review this series, I went looking for it in my "to read" pile but it wasn't there because I'd already read it. Blame my aging atrophying brain for part of that but I think you'd have to say that occurrence is the very definition of an unmemorable issue. After rereading it, I'm afraid that assessment may be too kind.

One web. I hope there are more webs for the final three issues.