Fantastic Friday: Herald the duck

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. In issue #520, Johnny becomes the new herald of Galactus. We’ve got space battles, a special guest star, and even a kissing scene.

Recap: Aliens attacked the Earth in hopes of killing Sue, so they could invisibly hide from Galactus forever without Sue’s power to make them visible again. Reed tricked the aliens by switching Sue and Johnny’s powers. Then Galactus arrived on Earth in person, transforming Johnny with a powerful energy blast.

We begin with Reed, Sue, and Johnny falling from the new Baxter Building, with Ben commenting, “That was a short fight.” Sue tries to fly Ben to safety, but she’s still getting used to controlling the flame powers. Reed instead saves Ben by stretching around him and using his body to bungee-jump Ben to the sidewalk below.

Reed deduces that Galactus has recruited Johnny to become his new herald. Reed blames himself, but a furious Sue says, “It should be me.” The three of them rally, planning to venture into space, in pursuit of Galactus and Johnny. Reed hopes to find them before Johnny unknowingly leads Galactus to an inhabited world.

On board Galactus’ ship, Johnny is pestering Galactus, asking him where the bathroom is. Using his newfound invisible force field powers, he flies around the ship making wisecracks, until Galactus ejects him into space. Johnny says it’s like letting a dog out into the yard. An alien with a flaming sword approaches. He is Karragan the Unforgiving, and he’s come seeking revenge against Galactus after Galactus destroyed his planet.

At the new Baxter Building, Sue is in the shower while flamed on, causing steam to go everywhere. She’s finding it hard to keep the fire in check. She has a flashback to her and Johnny when they were younger and living on their own. He was driving her crazy while bouncing a basketball around inside the house, only for her to find a Mother’s Day gift for her, with a note saying, “For the best sister in the whole world.”

Reed affixes Ben with a “combination deep-space survival suit and flight unit.” Reed adds that he’s called an old friend for help to reach Galactus’ ship. Ben talks with Alicia on the phone. He assures her that the alien invasion was just a “drop-in,” and he asks her to look after the kids while the team in away. Ben has a flashback to his and Alicia’s first date, which is awkward until Johnny flies by outside with a message, “Now kiss her, you lummox.” And he does. Back in the present, Ben says, “I hate ta admit it, but I honestly care about th’ kid.”

On the roof of the HQ, Reed, Sue, and Ben meet up with Quasar. He says he hoped to stop Zius and Galactus on his own, what with him being the official protector of the universe and all, but his “personal priorities” got in the way. With the power his quantum bands, they take off.

In space, Johnny tries to talk Karragan down, but all the alien wants to do is fight. Johnny exclaims “Back off!” as he draws upon the Power Cosmic, which is given to all heralds of Galactus. Johnny then vivisects Karragan in a gory way, only to them put him back together again. Johnny returns Karragan to the wilderness planet where he currently lives, and says he can sense the alien healing already. Overwhelmed, Johnny remarked that he only blinked and unleashed power that Sue never dreamed of. He asks, “What am I becoming?”

Unstable molecule: Reed at one point tells Sue to stop the “hysterics.” I think the idea is to illustrate that the fire powers are affecting Sue’s personality, but this is still not a good look for Reed.

Fade out: Sue’s flashback recalls that she was left to raise Johnny on her own after their criminal father hit rock bottom.

Clobberin’ time: Not counting those times when he turned human, this is the first time we’ve seen Ben and Alicia kiss. It’s also a different side of the normally rough and tumble Ben as he speaks eloquently about her sculptures and about the perfume she’s wearing.

Flame on: Johnny assumed Reed and the others are already on their way to rescue him. He adds that it will be difficult to pull Reed away from all the far-out tech inside Galactus’ ship.

Trivia time: There’s a reference to Quasar being the FF’s former tenant. For most of Quasar’s solo series, he operated from an office in one of the lower floors of Four Freedoms Plaza, the team’s former HQ. This was established in Quasar #3, and it remained that way until his final issue in #60.

What is the personal business that kept Quasar busy during the invasion? Unknown. His last appearance before this was when the Avengers split up in the recent Avengers: Disassembled event.

The Marvel Wiki states that this is the first and only known appearance of Karragan the Unforgiving. I’m curious about the “only known” phrasing. Does someone updating the Wiki think that Karragan might be drawn into a background of some other comic?

Fantastic or frightful? After the last issue with checking a bunch of boxes to get the story set up, the plot properly gets under way this time. There are a lot of great character moments as Waid, Wieringo and Kesel take some time to explore this new premise. Great stuff.

Next: Hot rod.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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DuckTales rewatch – The Big Flub

Rewatching DuckTales! Let’s everybody get lighter than air as we watch episode 84, “The Big Flub.”

Here’s what happens: Fenton wants a promotion to become Scrooge’s vice-president in charge of new products, constantly pestering Scrooge about it. Scrooge refuses, saying Fenton lacks a background in marketing. Huey, Dewey, and Louie tell Fenton not to give and find a way to convince Scrooge. Fenton then films a series of commercials with Gandra Dee for a fictional product called Pep. An executive finds a tape of the commercials and asks Scrooge about them. Scrooge, distracted with other matters, says to go ahead and run the ads on TV. The commercials work too well, as people all over Duckburg start demanding Pep, while not knowing what Pep is.

Scrooge is nonplussed by this crisis, saying he’ll get Gyro to invent Pep and make a fortune. Gyro provides several inventions, including bubble gum with bubbles that make you float. Fenton decides that this is Pep, even though it hasn’t been fully tested. Pep becomes a sensation, and Fenton becomes a wealthy celebrity for bringing it to the masses. Fenton’s newfound riches have him thinking he’s too good for Scrooge. That night, Scrooge finds his nephews floating in midair, a side-effect of Pep. This becomes an epidemic with people all over Duckburg defying gravity.

Fenton is blamed for the crisis. He hides out in Scrooge’s mansion, where Scrooge tells him that finding a solution is his responsibility. Dandra Dee is also blamed for the crisis, and she tells Fenton off. Then Fenton also goes zero-G, unable to access his Gizmoduck armor. Scrooge then uses Pep to turn Fenton’s mother’s trailer into a flying house so they can reach Fenton in the sky. (Did this inspire Pixar’s Up?) Fenton transforms into Gizmoduck, and then rescues all the people floating in the sky. Later, Dandra Dee forgives Fenton while Fenton is stuck mailing out refunds and apology letters to all of Duckburg.

Humbug: At every plot twist, Scrooge keeps his cool, seeing only opportunities and not problems. He ends up being the hero at the end, by getting the Gizmoduck armor to Fenton.

Junior woodchucks: In making their point to Fenton, the nephews say they convinced Scrooge to buy a new bike for them by telling him it’d be cheaper than driving them around town.  

Great gadgeteer: Gyro’s other inventions include a shrink ray intended for dieting, a sheep-counting machine for insomniacs, and an umbrella that plays opera music. Could this be a reference to episode 21, “Maid of the Myth,” when Gyro performed as a background actor in an opera?

Pro-rata: Dandra Dee wears a swimsuit in one of the commercials, and she has white human legs instead of the yellow web-footed legs of all the other duck characters. I get that the animators want her to look beautiful, but this has nonetheless always bugged me.

Your move, creep: Gizmoduck refers to his helmet helicopter as a “helmicopter,” somewhat naturally. His armor also has a built-in butterfly net, handy for scooping floating people out of the sky.

Down in Duckburg: There are a lot of gags about how this crisis changes life in Duckburg, with kids have floating races, people moving around via ropes and on ceilings, and people at airports flying off without the planes.

Reference row: A quick Google search shows dozes of products and companies named “Pep.” Notable examples are the Pep Boys automotive brand, a popular line of shoes in South America, and some parts of the world where Pepsi cola is renamed Pep. My favorite is Pep Comics, which was originally a superhero comic published by MLJ Magazines. It was later bought by Archie Comics, and it became a home for Archie and the gang from Riverdale.

Thoughts on this viewing: Another cute comedy episode, which is pretty much what all these later episodes are. We see that Fenton and his supporting cast become more and more part of Scrooge’s extended family, so there’s that.

Next: A tale of two heroes.

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Fantastic Friday: Light switch

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. A cosmic crisis just keeps getting more cosmic in issue #519, along with some big changes for our heroes.  

Recap: The FF are facing a financial and PR crisis following the Latveria incident (it’s a long story) just in time for aliens to attack New York. The aliens, led by a guy named Zius, are survivors of Galactus. They have perfected invisibility technology to hide entire planets from Galactus’ near-omniscient senses. They’ve come to Earth to find and possibly destroy Sue, who they learned has the power to make the invisible visible. Despite her teammates’ protests, Sue surrenders to the aliens.

This issue begins with Zius strapping Sue to a strange device to prevent her from using her force fields while the other aliens keep the rest of the FF at bay. Zius says he is no murderer, yet this seems like an execution. Sue pleads for one last chance to say goodbye to her children. Johnny tries to fight back but is stopped by the aliens. Zius is about to. Then Reed busts through a wall with one of the aliens’ weapons. Instead of fighting the aliens, however, he turns the weapon on Sue and fires.

Sue collapses while Zius checks his instruments. Reed explains that he didn’t hurt Sue, he merely took away her powers. He says this is preferable to her becoming a pawn in a game played by alien demigods. He tells Zius, “Get off my planet.” Zius uses mind-boggling alien tech to return Manhattan island to Earth, instantaneously repairing all the damage that was done.  

Reed gives a big speech to Zius, saying that the FF have defended Earth against Galactus multiple times and will do so again. He says that if Zius ever returns to Earth, “The Fantastic Four will make you regret it.” Because the aliens are still broadcasting their message to Earth, people all over the world hear Reed say this.

Cut to the roof of the new Baxter Building as the aliens are leaving. Ben insists that Reed use the weapon on him to make him human again. Reed says the weapon actually doesn’t eliminate anyone’s powers. He tells Sue to jump off the building (!). She does (!!) and then she flames on. She now has Johnny’s powers. Reed says the FF’s powers cannot be created or destroyed, but they can be reassigned. Johnny tries it, and he turns invisible, as he now has Sue’s powers.

Reed says the procedure can be reversed. He’s about to give Sue and Johnny their own powers back, when they look up to see a giant hand reach down and grab hold of the departing alien ships. There’s an image in the sky of Zius suffering in pain, and then the hand destroys the ships. Turn the page and we see it’s Galactus, looming large over the city.

Galactus fires an energy beam down at the building, striking Johnny. Johnny isn’t hurt, but instead is transformed. He’s glowing with energy and has a new outfit with a big eye on his chest. Johnny realizes it’s Sue’s powers that both Zius and Galactus are after. As Galactus’ hand reaches for Johnny, he says, “This bites.”

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: I’m a little unclear as to how Reed’s plan works. There’s one panel of Zius checking out an image of Sue on his computer, and that’s all we get to see that he’s been tricked, even though he’s been shown to have nearly godlike power. Let’s just say his weapon also messes with their sensors somehow.

Fade out: Sue says Johnny’s powers have a frightening burning sensation as first, but then it is freeing as the flames make her lighter than air.

Clobberin’ time: Ben is mostly comic relief this issue. When Johnny turns himself invisible, Ben says, “It’s a good look f’r ya!”

Flame on: Sue’s advice to Johnny about how to turn visible is to imagine himself as being seen, and it works.

Trivia time: What’s Galactus been up to since he came back from the dead during the Abraxus storyline? He was a major player in the Annihilation crossover, in which he created the “Galactus event” to counter the deadly Annihilation Wave. Then, in Nova, there was a complicated storyline about Galactus and his conflict with the Proemial Gods, and his fight with a cosmic being called the Harrow. It’s nice that they’ve given him interests other than just devouring planets.

Also, this is the final appearance of Zius, so we can assume that he did indeed die in Galactus’ attack.

Fantastic or frightful? This is issue is fast paced, with a lot of big moments and dramatic revelations told in a short space. I feel like the creators were rushing through this one to check off a lot of boxes in order to set up the good stuff in the next few issues. Such is the nature of monthly comics, I suppose, with a finite number of pages to work with. Mike Wieringo’s artwork continues to shine.

Next: Storm in space.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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DuckTales rewatch – Bubba’s Big Brainstorm

Rewatching DuckTales! Every long-running TV cartoon eventually does a “the dumb character becomes a genius” episode, and now it’s DuckTales’ turn in episode 83, “Bubba’s Big Brainstorm.”

Here’s what happens: Scrooge is puzzled with an incomprehensible treasure map. He learns his nephews all got straight As, but prehistoric caveduck Bubba got straight Zs (not Fs). The kids take Bubba to Gyro for tutoring, but Gyro says Bubba wouldn’t keep up. Instead, Gyro affixes Bubba with a high-tech “thinking cap,” which enhances his intelligence to a great degree. Not only can he speak in full sentences, but he’s a bona fide genius.

Bubba goes overboard on the genius thing. He leaves his cave for the mansion, reading all the books and coming up with new inventions. He takes over the kids’ school, becoming their new teacher. His ideas help Scrooge’s business concerns, making Scrooge even richer, and becoming a local celebrity. He then deciphers Scrooge’s treasure map, leading him and the nephews to a place called the Thinca Ruins.

The Thinca’s islands are inhabited by people who act like savages but are armed with high-tech laser weapons. Bubba explains that the ancient Thincans were brilliant inventors, who left their tech behind. The chief locks everyone up, only for their jail to contain the door to the ancient Thincan computer.  

From there, the episode is a dungeon crawl. Bubba uses his genius to figure his way past deathtraps while the Thincans pursue everyone. In the final chamber, the group is attacked by a weird-looking monster who knocks of Bubba’s thinking cap. He reverts back to a caveduck, and fights off the monster with raw strength. The treasure of the Thincans in revealed to be a book. It’s a history of the Thincan civilization. They got so smart that they became lost in their own heads and forgot basic survival skills. Scrooge gives the book the Thincans. Back home, Bubba is happy back to being his old self.

Humbug: My thesis is that the series-long arc of DuckTales is Scrooge learning that his newfound family relationships are more important than his money. In this episode, he leaves the treasure with its people rather than bring it home for profit. Is this because it’s not gold so he doesn’t care, or has he learned a valuable lesson?

Junior woodchucks: After seeing the kids in their new modern-looking a school a few episodes ago, in this one they’re back to the old-timey one-room schoolhouse. Maybe it’s one of the situations where they have some classes in the old building and some in the new building.

Everybody walk the dinosaur: Genius Bubba is pretty much an entirely different character from regular Bubba. The only connecting thread I can see is Bubba’s curiosity about the world around him. It’s why he wanted to stay in the present and not return to prehistoric times, and it’s why he’s such a voracious reader as a genius.

Foul fowls: Because the Thincans are merely misunderstood, the only villain is the monster, a bizarre bird/dinosaur/dragon combo.

Down in Duckburg: The kids’ teacher, Mrs. Quackenbush, quits her job after failing to outthink genius Bubba. Her leaving is apparently permanent, because the Disney Wiki alleges that she never returns after this.

Reference row: Bubba compares himself to “Duckimedes.” This is a reference to classic Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes. He predicted the development of geometry, calculus, and the calculation of pi, much to the chagrin of many high school students.

Thoughts on this viewing: I’m not sure I follow the moral of “book smarts mean you lose your survival skills.” That might not be the best message for young viewers. Also, in stories like this, there’s usually a moment when a transformed character when the transformation makes the character unhappy, prompting the change back. In this one, Bubba enjoys his genius throughout and everything goes great for him. He only changes back out of necessity, but the episode wants us to think it’s a happy ending. It just doesn’t work.

Next: Zero-G.

  • * * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Fantastic Friday: Let’s everybody get invisible

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Issue #518 is all about invisibility. Where’s King Mob and Ragged Robin when you need them?

Recap: The FF are still dealing with financial and PR problems following the Latveria incident (it’s a long story). Then a bunch of giant pillars flew down from space and surrounded Manhattan, lifting the entire island into the sky. With no Avengers to call on for help after the Avengers: Disassembled storyline, the NYC mayor had no choice but to call on the FF for aid.

We begin with a couple pages of our heroes rescuing civilians during the crisis. Then it’s back to the new Baxter Building, where Reed provides two-way comm devices to his teammates. He says that one of the pillars contains viewports, suggesting someone is inside while another pillar is putting out a massive amount of energy, making it the power source. He’ll check out the power source, while the other three investigate the viewports.

Sue, Ben, and Johnny punch their way through their pillar, only to be attacked by unseen force. Similarly, Reed stretches into his pillar and bumps into an invisible wall inside. Sue uses her power of turning invisible things visible, and reveals a giant two-headed monster. Ben clobbers the monster real good, while Sue reveals the entire space filled with other monsters.

Reed deduces that he’s in a room with invisible machinery, and he works on way to hack it. Sue, Ben and Johnny fight the aliens, with Sue discovering they are intelligent and have a language. Then the aliens’ leader appears, a wizard-like fellow named Zius. Cut to outside Manhattan, where TV reporters find their signal hacked by Zius. Everything he’s saying is also being broadcast throughout the country. He says he and the aliens have come to Earth in hopes of stopping the deadliest being in the known universe… Galactus!

Zius explains that his world was devoured by Galactus and that he was the only survivor. He sought other survivors, and over time they developed technology that could turn entire planets invisible, fooling Galactus’ near-omnipotent sensors. Then they learned of someone on Earth with the power to make the invisible visible. They narrowed their search to Manhattan and plotted to launch Manhattan into the sun. But now, Zius says Sue is the one they’re looking for, and he insists she surrender.

Sue says she would never willingly help Galactus destroy planets, but Zius says it’s only a matter of time before Galactus comes to Earth to take Sue’s powers for himself. Over the two-way comm, Reed asks his teammates to stall while he thinks of an alternative, but Sue merely bows her head and offers her surrender.

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: To figure out the invisible alien machine, Reed stretches his body around it to get a sense of its size and shape, and where its control panel is.

Fade out: This comic suggests that Sue is the only character in the Marvel Universe who can turn invisible things visible. Other than the cosmic, godlike beings, I can’t think of another with this power, unless Dr. Strange can do it with Eye of Agamotto.

Clobberin’ time: Ben punches out the first alien with no problem, but then the group aliens out-muscles him, pinning him to the floor.

Flame on: The aliens negate Johnny’s powers by dousing him with a yellow liquid that he can’t burn through. Let’s all hope it’s not what it looks like.

Four and a half/Our gal Val: Franklin and Valeria appear in the opening scene, and then there’s a line saying they’re going to stay with Alicia for the rest of this adventure.

Trivia time: The Marvel Wiki says the aliens’ planet-hiding invisibility tech is a reference to issue #48, the first part of the famous Galactus trilogy. In that issue, the Skrulls talk about “blacking out” their system to hide from Galactus.

Fantastic or frightful? A fun issue full of far-out sci-fi conceits. I like the idea of taking invisibility tech to extreme lengths. Mike Wieringo’s artwork really shines in the designs of all the kooky alien monsters. Big ideas, big action, and big drama – this is what Fantastic Four is all about.

Next: Switcharoo.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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DuckTales rewatch – Dough Ray Me

Rewatching DuckTales! Time for yet another clone saga in episode 82, “Dough Ray Me.”

Here’s what happens: Scrooge refuses to give his nephews a raise on their allowance, suggesting instead they get summer jobs. The three boys equip themselves with vacuum cleaners to become the “Dirtbusters.” When they try cleaning up Gyro’s place, he shows them his “multiphonic duplicator,” which makes a perfect copy of anything, including the boys’ pocket change. Under the pretense of testing the device, the boys make copies of food, toys, anything they want. Fenton borrows the device and runs off with it. When the boys use their duplicated money to buy ice cream, we see the money keeps duplicating on its own.

Fenton uses the duplicator to start his own magic act (!), revealing to Scrooge that the device is the source of his magic. When Scrooge sees his money duplicate on its own, he heads to Gyro’s place, where Gyro is having similar problems of everything self-duplicating. Things keep getting more and more out of hand, as the entire town is soon overflowing with duplicated money. It’s piled up on the street like snowbanks, and it’s causing prices to skyrocket.

In jail, the Beagle Boys learn of what’s happening and they start concocting a plan. Huey, Dewey, and Louie then deduce that the sound of bells is what’s making everything self-duplicate. With Gizmoduck’s help, they set out to silence all bells in the city. Gyro then calls to warn the boys that duplicated money is unstable. The Beagle Boys break out of jail and start collecting all the money in garbage trucks. Fenton’s plan is let them steal it all until the duplicated money becomes unstable. The Beagle Boys clean up the town, but take over the Money Bin. Instead of imploding, all the money implodes, back into its original coin. Scrooge then tells the boys there’s no such as easy money, and they’re put back to work cleaning the mansion to get their original dollar back.

Humbug: My thesis is that the series-long arc of DuckTales is Scrooge learning that his newfound family relationships are more important than his money. This episode begins with Scrooge refusing to give raises, and it ends with him being right to do so? I don’t know…

Junior woodchucks: Huey, Dewey, and Louie play a Beagle Boys video game, in which they try to steal money from a virtual Money Bin. Does Scrooge know about this game? Is he the one earning a profit from it?

Maid and maiden: Mrs. Beakeley’s subplot is her trying to clean the boys’ room when their toys keep duplicating out of control.

Great gadgeteer: Gyro’s tiny lightbulb-headed robot assistant Helper makes a return, after its early appearances in the series.

Pro-rata: The Beagle Boys think Ma Beagle busted them out of jail, but it was really Fenton. He did it in the hopes that they would clean up the town. Not very superhero-ish behavior, Fenton.

Foul fowls: The Beagle Boys in this episode are Big Time, Baggy, and Burger. It’s a rare combo that doesn’t include a big muscular Beagle in the trio.

Down in Duckburg: An entire scene plays out on the balcony of the Money Bin, overlooking the entire city. This is something I don’t recall seeing in other episodes.

Reference row: The boys as “Dirtbusters” is clearly a parody of 1984’s Ghostbusters. I wonder if this is leftover concept art from a never-made Ghostbusters-themed episode.

Thoughts on this viewing: This one introduces a far-out sci-fi element, but it’s so in a rush to get through the plot that this premise isn’t as well thought out as it could be. We’ve also entered the period of the show when coins were grey and not gold, making the series feel less bright and colorful.

Next: Brainchild.

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Fantastic Friday: Pillars of the community

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. A new story arc begins in issue 517, one that kinda/sorta ties into a bigger Marvel event. Oh Marvel, you and your events.  

It’s Halloween! Ben is hilariously dressed as Johnny while taking Franklin and Valeria out trick or treating. Sue scares him by using her powers to make a Jack o’ Lantern look like it’s floating in midair. They discuss how no kids are wearing Avengers costumes after the government recently disbanding the Avengers initiative (this is our crossover with the Avengers: Disassembled event).

At the new Baxter Building, Johnny is still the FF’s chief financial officer, he and fellow executive Jian meet with Reed about possible new inventions. Finances are still struggling after putting more money towards the FF’s PR department to help save their public image after the Latveria incident (it’s a long story). Jian insists that despite all the FF’s recent troubles, she’s not looking for other work.

The windows in Johnny’s office shatter, and Reed announces a city-wide atmospheric disturbance. Crazy winds blow all over New York, and then gigantic green pillars fall from the sky, embedding themselves in the water around Manhattan. The NYC mayor calls for the Avengers, only to learn they have disbanded. He’s then told not to call the FF because they are a political liability. But the FF are already on the scene, saving civilians from tidal waves caused by the pillars.

New Yorkers see the FF in action and fear that the team is taking over NYC like they took over Latveria. While everyone at the mayor’s office debates whether to cooperate with the FF, the city is rocked with a huge quake. Turn the page, and we see that Manhattan is being lifted upward into the sky. The mayor reaches into his desk, pulls out an old-school FF flare gun, and fires the “4” signal into the sky.

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: Some confusion here about the FF’s finances. First we’re told that Reed invented a self-inflating basketball (!) that is selling well. But then he has a prototype for x-ray sunglasses that’s not ready for market, because it causes blindness. (How does Reed know this? Did he test it on someone?)

Fade out: Sue struggles to hold back the tidal wave, and Ben jokes that Marvel Girl could’ve done it better. I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me forever to remember that Marvel Girl is Jean Grey’s codename.

Clobberin’ time: Ben intimidates a suburban dad into giving the kids all of his Halloween candy, so sometimes it’s good to be a giant rock monster.

Flame on: Johnny wants to give Jian a raise, but she refuses. He looks through the papers in her office trashcan (not cool!) and finds she has rejected offers from headhunters for better jobs, simply because she still believes in the FF.

Four and a half: Franklin has a cowboy Halloween costume. I suspect he’s supposed to be Woody from Toy Story, but it’s hard to tell.

Our gal Val: Valeria has now aged up from baby to toddler, walking on her own while trick-or-treating. She has a clown costume.

Fantastic fifth wheel: In the background there are trick-or-treaters dressed as FF alternate members Luke Cage and Ant-Man. Future alternates Storm and Spider-Man are also represented as Halloween costumes.

Trivia time: What’s Avengers Disassembled about? There was a huge battle among all the Avengers, with some of them being hospitalized and even killed (!). This was due to the Scarlet Witch driven to violence over the loss of her children she subconsciously created (sound familiar?). The follow-up comic, Avengers Finale, is the one where the UN and the US government both sever all ties with the Avengers because of this incident.

In the hardcover collection’s bonus materials, Mark Waid states that this issue’s original ending was the mayor dialing Reed’s cell phone to ask for help. Writer Karl Kesel came up with the idea to bring back the classic signal flare, for a more dramatic and visual cliffhanger.

The mayor is not named. There’s disagreement online among fans whether this character is generic unnamed mayor, or if it’s real-life NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Marvel Wiki states that the entire run of Marvel Knights: 4 took place between last issue and this one. I’m planning to cover that series in upcoming blog posts.

Also, the Marvel Wiki makes it a point to mention that both humans and mutants appear in this issue. Do they mean Franklin?

Fantastic or frightful? The first half of the issue is slice-of-life stuff with a lot of family banter, and then some disaster movie rescue action in the second half. It’s a light, breezy read, setting up bigger things, but Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo continue to get the characters just right.

Next: “I love you, Dr. Zaius!”

  • * * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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DuckTales rewatch – Metal Attraction

Rewatching DuckTales! What’s better than a love triangle? A love triangle with robots! Here’s episode 81, “Metal Attraction.”

Here’s what happens: Fearing he has no more scientific wonders to discover, Gyro Gearloose decides to invent a way to help Mrs. Beakeley with the housework in Scrooge’s mansion. One scene later, he’s come up with Robotica, a robo-maid who can cook, clean, and babysit – except that she frightens the kids for being so mechanical. Gyro then reprograms Robotica to have emotions, only for her to get overly emotional. Meanwhile, Fenton is still trying to romance the lovely Gandra Dee. When Fenton dons the Gizmoduck shows up to do a job for Scrooge, Robotica falls madly in love with him, and she pursues him relentlessly.

Fenton continues to chase after Gandra Dee, when he sees that Robotica has painted “R + G” on the side of the money bin. As Gizmoduck, he confronts her, but she doesn’t take no for an answer. Gandra Dee and Robotica randomly meet at a combination salon and auto shop (!), where they compare notes on the men in their lives. They believe that Fenton and Gizmoduck could learn a lot from each other, and they plan to set up a double date.

Then it’s sitcom antics time, as Fenton keeps switching back and forth between his two identities during the date, piling on excuse after excuse. The two ladies both decide they’ve had enough. Gandra Dee storms off, while Robotica gets electrocuted and goes on a villainous rampage. Mistakenly believing that Gandra Dee is in love with Gizmoduck and not Fenton, Robotica kidnaps Gandra Dee. She plots to fire a missile both Gandra Dee and the Money Bin, so that Gizmoduck with have no other responsibilities other than her. Gizmoduck puts himself in front of the missile to save Gandra Dee, but then Robotica shoves him out of the way to take the blast herself.

Later, Fenton asks Gandra Dee out again, but this time for a simple date, rather than an overflow of gifts and affection, and she says yes. Robotica, meanwhile, is rebuilt and reprogrammed again, better in control of her emotions, and with a new job at the auto shop.

Humbug: Scrooge’s subplot is some strange business about him canning dollar bills, revealing that he has a whole basement of cash preserved in jars. Okay…

Junior woodchucks: The kids are having some sort of impromptu costume party at the start of the episode, dressing up Tootsie the triceratops in one of Mrs. Beakeley’s dresses. They cruelly claim that it’s the only piece of clothing that will fit.

Everybody walk the dinosaur: The Disney Wiki alleges that this is the only time Bubba and Gizmoduck are in the same episode, although they don’t share a scene. They can also be spotted together with the rest of the cast in a family photo. (Launchpad is not in the photo, suggesting he’s already halfway out the door to join the spinoff.)

Pro-rata: Fenton’s attempts to romance Gandra Dee include filling her house with roses, only for her to be allergic, and delivering a building size cake to her (a condominium cake… with aluminum siding). The episode also remembers she works at the bean factory where Fenton used to work, and he treats her to lunch there as well, complete with a roving mariachi band.

Your move, creep: Gizmoduck can stretch his midsection to rise up several stories, kind of like Stilt-Man from Marvel comics. He also has a blowtorch built into one finger.

Foul fowls: Robotica falls under the category of villains who are more misunderstood than outright villainous. It ends with her starting a new romance with the auto shop’s diagnostic computer.

Down in Duckburg: The theme park has a parody of Disneyland’s teacup ride. But in this version, the park guests are inside giant teabags, and they get submerged in hot water.

Reference row: The title is a reference to 1987’s Fatal Attraction, which was parodied by almost all late-80s sitcoms. Now DuckTales gets a turn at it.

Thoughts on this viewing: More screwball sitcom stuff, which is pretty much all these later episodes are, it seems. But, there’s some emotional truth under it all. Fenton tries to romance Gandra Dee with gifts and attention, but this just makes her uncomfortable. When Robotica treats Gizmoduck the same way, that’s when Fenton learns a valuable lesson. Also, a triceratops wears a dress.

Next: Clone saga.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Fantastic Friday: Fun with Crystal

Another busy week, so not enough time to do a proper Fantastic Four blog post. Instead, here’s Crystal:

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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DuckTales rewatch – My Mother the Psychic

Rewatching DuckTales! We’ve got Gizmoduck. We’ve got TV parodies. We’ve got it all on episode 80, “My Mother the Psychic.”

Here’s what happens: Fenton Crackshell wants to take his mother on a picnic, but she wants to stay inside watching TV all day. When she tries to fix the TV’s reception, she gets electrocuted. This improbably gives her visions of the future. When Scrooge learns this, he offers her a job so he can profit off her predictions. It works, and Scrooge’s stocks go up. This catches Glomgold’s attention, as he tasks the Beagle Boys to use a high-tech spy camera to find out Scrooge’s secret. Fenton is jealous of his mother’s powers and her newfound success. They have an argument, in which she accuses him of being too predictable. She then has a prediction that Fenton will leave and never return.

The Beagle Boys use a fake commercial to lure Fenton’s mother out of the house, where they abduct her. Scrooge easily deduces that Glomgold is behind her disappearance. Fenton dons his Gizmoduck armor for the rescue, and Glomgold fights back with a giant magnet. Glomgold tries launching Gizmoduck into space, only for Gizmoduck spin the magnet to return to Duckburg. He chases the villains and catches them by knocking an electric tower onto Glomgold’s car. Fenton’s mom shakes Gizmoduck’s hand, gets electrocuted again, and loses her psychic powers.

Humbug: My thesis is that the series-long arc of DuckTales is Scrooge learning his newfound family is more important than his money. Upon seeing Fenton’s mother get electrocuted, Scrooge’s first thought is how to profit from it. At the end, he says he’s forced to go back to making money the old-fashioned way, by earning it. Another mixed message, I’d say.

Pro-rata: Is Fenton perhaps a little too doting on his mother? She spends all day in front of the TV, and he’s all “I just want to talk.” It comes off as somewhat strange.

Your move, creep: When Gizmoduck is launched into space attached to a magnet, he returns to Earth by spinning the magnet like a big Frisbee. Sure. Also, the armor comes equipped with its own satellite dish so mom can still watch TV while on their picnic.

Foul fowls: The Beagle Boys this time are Burger, Baggy, and Big Time. Although the Beagle Boys and Glomgold went their separate ways at the end of the “Time is Money” storyline, they’re back together in this one.

Down in Duckburg: The actress seen on the TV soap opera is Featherika von Strangeduck, who we met way back in episode 12, “Hotel Strangeduck.” Except in that episode she was wealthy duchess and not an actress. The character can be spotted on blink-and-you-miss-it TV screens throughout this latter part of the series. The Disney Wiki seems confused as to how a duchess can also be an actress, so it lists her TV appearances as “Featherika von Strangeduck lookalike.”

Reference row: The soap opera All My Ducklings is an obvious parody of All My Children, the ABC soap opera starring Susan Lucci that ran from 1970 to 2013.

Thoughts on this viewing: This is more like it. The show’s new hero goes up against one of its original villains. Glomgold knew Gizmoduck would show up at his door sooner or later, so he had his deathtraps ready to go. Their big confrontation is fun James Bond-type stuff. Fenton’s mother isn’t that interesting of a character, but this episode makes her part of Scrooge’s extended family.

Next: Love, Duck, Robots.

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Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a city full of far-out technology and hidden dark magic. The first three chapters are FREE, so give it a shot! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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