Richard's thread doesn't really seem to address the second issue so here's a new thread that does.
I loved it. One of the best comics I've bought in quite a long while. I had never heard of Zdarsky but after just two issues of this series he has joined the ranks of the very few 21st century writers whose names alone will get me to at least think about buying a comic - and all the others (Abnett, Parker, Hester) work for DC.
As for the art, Chelung, Dell, Wong, and Martin are doing a bang-up job. Perfect for the story being told.
Loved Ben and Alicia having one of their classic conversations while she sculpts the latest of her never-ending series of Ben statues.
Loved the banter between Ben and Johnny in the Fantasticar (bathtub version, which is my favorite) on their way to Monster Island, which Ben at this point thinks is the site of Reed and Ben's first adventure.
Loved the banter as Ben and Johnny try to find the precise spot on Monster Island.
Loved the weird goings-on (Mole Man and Googam, Son of Goom) that Ben and Johnny stumble upon. It made me think of the fact that there are surely always weird goings-on involving the Mole Man and no one on the surface ever knows.
Good fight scene only marred by Johnny's power failing. I'm not a fan of this plot element. I think probably none of us are. But it took up only one panel so whatever. Surprisingly, Doom shows up and saves Johnny. Some vicious dialogue - and when Doom realizes that Ben has told Johnny the quest is to save the Richards clan, Doom mocks Ben but does not tell Johnny the truth. I think it's important to note that. Doom could have caused Ben untold heartache with a few words, and didn't.
The monsters decide Doom is their new ruler and all Doom does is have Mole Man and Googam carried deeper underground. Doom then takes his leave after exchanging more vicious words with Ben - and his last words turn out to be a clue to where the doohickey actually is. In my opinion Doom did this on purpose. He knows where the doohickey is because he experienced (from his own perspective) the situation Reed was alluding to. I don't recall if we know for sure that Doom knows what Reed said to Ben via the time capsule message last issue - but it doesn't matter because I'm convinced, regardless, that he does. He's Doom. Master of technology, magic, and schemes. He knows.
The lightbulb goes on in Ben's head and he realizes what Reed was alluding to. And then we get a flashback that surely ranks as one of the greatest Fantastic Four vignettes ever published. This vignette alone should earn Zdarsky and friends an eternal place in FF lore. This was one of the greatest things I have ever read.
Victor Von Doof. 'Nuff said.
Five pages long. Five. Pages. Long. And it has enriched FF lore far more than all the pages that have been published this century put together.
Buy this issue for the vignette if for no other reason. You cannot live your life without reading this.
Ben and Johnny find the doohickey and are about to embark to - somewhere. Need to wait for next issue to find out where they go.
When this Ben and Johnny team-up book was announced, I worried it would be a big joke book since the pair are so often defined simply by their pranking of each other. I felt more secure when I heard Chip Zdarsky was on board -- I'd never read any of his work, but I'd heard he was able to carry books featuring Peters Parker and Quill, respectively, with both humor and pathos. I think he's definitely striking the right balance of that mix now in MTIO.
In particular, I'm interested by his interplay between the past and the future. So far we've had lots of iconography from the glory days, from the Flying Bathtub and Monster Isle to Alicia Masters complete with Lyja reference, for pity's sake. We've had flashbacks to the recent and distant past, old newspaper clippings, and an in memoriam slideshow featuring classic FF costumes.
But we've also had mention of the dangers of the past -- Doom warns Ben that the past is a trap, while GOOGAM, SON OF GOOM complains that Subterranea has become weak and stagnant, declaring he has a plan for the future.
Of course this theme is fitting given the frequent conversation over whether the FF book is perpetually trapped in its past. Zdarsky’s view of the book, and maybe of nostalgia itself, seems to be that the past is a trap but can be a tool when used appropriately. His message seems to be not to ditch the past to focus on the future, but to use the past to focus on the future. After all, this series’ returning staples of the past and its flashbacks all show something new while propelling Ben and Johnny further toward the Multisect and the promise of new, different adventures.
At the same time, another plot is working in the opposite direction, as Johnny believes this is all for finding Sue and Reed -- which here, means living in the past. We’ve yet to see how this dissonance is resolved.
Someday the family Richards will return, but for now this book is using them and their absence to have a neat meditation on the nature of the book and nostalgia in general, along with being so much more (as already discussed in this thread) and pretty darn satisfying, for my money.