Friday, September 4, 2009

Fin Fang Four Return!

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of Fin Fang Four Return! (Marvel, 2009).

Hey, have I mentioned how Roger Langridge is one of my favorite comic artists? I have? Several times? Well, let me mention it again. Fin Fang Four is an occasional project he and his former Doctor Who collaborator Scott Gray have released for Marvel, in which four former threats to humanity have been shrunk to more manageable size and get menial jobs in New York City. On those rare occasions that new installments arrive, they are the best thing that Marvel Comics releases these days.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Marvel released these silly and fun giant monster comics, in which the human race was faced with doom at the hands of beasties like Gorgilla, or Googam, the son of Goom. These were later incorporated into the company's superhero universe - I believe that they further aped the Godzilla concept by even giving them all their own "Monster Island" - but more often than not, they were wheeled out whenever it was necessary to protect the trademarks.

In the Fin Fang Four continuity, Gorgilla, Googam, the robot Elektro and the Chinese dragon Fin Fang Foom have all been shrunk by Reed Richards and the courts have ordered them to do community service. They have group therapy with Marvel's resident shrink, Doc Samson, and when they're not parking cars, they're scheming to get adopted by pop stars who collect orphans. And poor Elektro, mistaken for somebody else with the same name, finds out what becomes of D-list criminals from Spider-Man comics...

The Fin Fang Four books are just terrific. They're really funny reads which play with the sillier concepts of both modern pop culture and with the rules of the Marvel Universe. I know Langridge has a Muppets comic due every month now, but hopefully he'll have enough spare time to work a little on the side with these characters, and we'll see them again before too much longer. I certainly recommend you ask your local comic shop about getting a copy of this. Marvel needs to get the word that more lighthearted, fun books like this are what we'd like to see!

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