Fantastic Friday: Spider-mask no more

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Don’t believe me that Marvel’s Civil War crossover was earthshaking and controversial? Just wait until you see what Spider-Man does in issue #2.

The first half of this issue is a bunch of short scenes catching readers up on how much the Marvel Universe has changed now. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents find supervillains the Vulture and the Grim Reaper beaten and tied up in the sewer. The bad guys reveal that Captain America caught them. Maria Hill of S.H.I.E.L.D. notes that Captain America is continuing crimefighting while on the run. But, Cap has taken down fifteen criminals in seventy-two hours, meaning it’s not just him. He’s recruiting more of his fellow heroes to his side.

Next, Iron Man’s team is also continuing to be crimefighters, but they’re doing it out in the streets on broad daylight. Reed and She-Hulk join Iron Man and others, where they’ve all defeated a giant Doombot. The nearby crowd cheers for them, “People are starting to believe in heroes again,” Iron Man says. She-Hulk questions their stance on superhero registration. Iron Man says there will still be superheroes, it’s just that registration will weed out the teens, the amateurs, and the psychos, leaving only the purely good heroes. Tigra asks what category Captain America is in, and Iron Man only says that Cap is “wrong.”

Then we go to the New Baxter Building, where Reed is all in with Team Iron Man. He says he and Tony are working on a project that’s the most exciting thing he’s ever done (!). Sue questions him about hunting down and apprehending other superheroes, including some of their friends. Reed says, “They don’t leave us any choice if they refuse to register.”

Sue then sees math figures drawn all over the walls of Reed’s lab. Reed says this is an exponential curve. He explains that the number of superhumans is growing at an alarming rate, and if something isn’t done to keep them reigned in now, it’ll become an apocalypse. Sue finds a disc on Reed’s desk marked “42.” Reed refuses to tell her what that is, saying it’s classified. She leaves for the hospital to visit Johnny, who is still in a coma, and Reed dismissively says to give Johnny his love.

At the Daily Bugle office, J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson discuss preparations for Tony Stark’s upcoming press conference. Jonah says that superhero registration is everything he’d spent years fighting for. Robbie wonders if the superhero community will actually register and reveal their secret identities. “Just the smart ones,” Jonah says as Spider-Man swings by outside his window.

Tony talks with his buddy Happy Hogan. They haven’t any word from Captain America. Happy says Cap is putting together is own team, and that Cap won’t stop fighting until the fight is done. Tony has a rare moment of self-doubt during Civil War, as he leans his head back and says, “Oh God. Please let us be doing the right thing here.”

Then the issue’s main storyline begins, featuring not Spider-Man but the Young Avengers. Patriot, the team’s leader, is running across rooftops trying to escape a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopter. They shoot him full of tranquilizer darts, but he’s so strong he keeps going. He breaks through a window into a nearby skyscraper, so the helicopter fires a missile in after him, resulting in a massive explosion of knockout gas.

Outside, a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have rounded up the rest of the Young Avengers, fitting them with some sort of power-dampening shackles. The team is Wiccan, Hulkling, the android Jonas, Stature (a.k.a. Cassie Lang), and the new Hawkeye (a.k.a. Kate Bishop). They’re being loaded up into one of those big convoy trucks we last saw in Fantastic Four. What the characters don’t know is that Daredevil and Luke Cage are watching from a distance, with Luke saying that Captain America and the Falcon are already at the scene.

The truck heads through the city. Inside the driver’s seats, one S.H.I.E.L.D. agent rants about how much he dislikes superheroes. The agent driving says, “You talk too much,” and he crashes the truck. It’s Cap in disguise! Then we see the Falcon is in disguise in the back of the truck. He undoes the manacles on Wiccan so Wiccan can cast a spell to get them out of there. He does, and the entire truck teleports away.

The truck reappears inside a giant underground complex, where members of Cap’s team aid the Young Avengers. Cable of the X-Men is there, saying “Welcome to the resistance.” Captain America explains that this location is a S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house that’s so secret, only Nick Fury knows about it. Fury’s not there, having gone “deep underground” once registration began. Daredevil says the team is already at work forging new identities for the Young Avengers. Cap warns that Tony Stark is up to something big.

Cut to Tony Stark, at the press conference mentioned earlier. Here’s one of the most talked-about moments in Marvel history. Tony is there with parents of kids who died in the Stamford incident at the start of Civil War #1, and then he introduces Spider-Man. Spidey comes out in his classic uniform, not the “iron spider” armor he’d been wearing recently.

“I’m not wearing my old mask because I’m ashamed of what I do,” he says. “I’m proud of who I am, and I’m here right now to prove it.” Then, in front of all the news cameras broadcasting this to the entire world, he takes of his mask and says, “My name is Peter Parker, and I’ve been Spider-Man since I was fifteen years old.”

Cut to the Daily Bugle, where J. Jonah Jameson has fainted.

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: The overall narrative of Civil War is that Iron Man is a futurist, and he’s doing all these things because he’s mathematically predicted where the future will go if he doesn’t. This issue, however, suggests that the future-predicting math came from Reed, not Tony.

Fade out: There’s little doubt that Sue is anti-reg at this point, but Reed is oblivious to that. I’d thought these two had moved beyond the “he’s so busy in the lab he never has time for her” thing, but Civil War moves characters around the board in all sorts of out-of-character ways.

Clobberin’ time: Ben is one panel at the new Baxter Building, showing he hasn’t left the country yet. He won’t for a while, but it’ll happen.

Flame on: Sue watches Spider-Man’s announcement from Johnny’s hospital room. It would have been hilarious if that’s what woke Johnny up from his coma, but I’m okay with Jonah getting the end-of-issue joke.

Fantastic fifth wheel: She-Hulk and Tigra are both on Iron Man’s team, yet both are questioning whether they’re doing the right thing. I keep forgetting to put Luke Cage in this “Fantastic fifth wheel” section, but yes, he’s Captain America’s right-hand-man throughout Civil War.  

Four and a half/our gal Val: Ben watches the kids while Sue and Reed have their conversation. It’s a somber scene, suggesting Franklin and Valeria can tell something’s up.

SUE-per spy: The 2019 Invisible Woman miniseries revealed that Sue had a double life as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent all along. The question during Civil War is, how much does she know? Is S.H.I.E.L.D. after her for info on Cap’s team? Does she know stuff about Cap’s team she’s not saying? There’s no way to know.

Trivia time: Young Avengers was hugely popular when it first debuted, but the series never quite recovered from Civil War. The characters have endured, though. Hulking and Wiccan got a lot of press as one of Marvel’s most prominent openly gay couples. Hulking went on to be a major player in the Empyre crossover. The two female Young Avengers have become stars in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Cassie getting her powers in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and Kate being a regular in the Hawkeye series. Kate was also a main character in the 2020 Avengers video game.

Yes, the Casssie Lang of Young Avengers is the same Cassie who lived with the Fantastic Four for a while during the Tom DeFalco years, when her dad Ant-Man was a member of the team. She’s had quite the growth spurt!

I can’t find any info on what this giant Doombot was doing attacking New York. This doesn’t seem like Dr. Doom’s M.O. My theory is that Doom knows something’s up with Thor’s hammer, so he sent the Doombot to distract the heroes from learning about it.

Allegedly, the framed newspapers on the wall in Jonah’s office are the exact same ones seen in his office in the movie Spider-Man 2. They’re too tiny for me to tell, but I’ll take the fans’ word for it.

Fantastic or frightful? Weird how Spider-Man revealing his identity is the big selling point of this issue, yet it’s mostly a Young Avengers story instead. (You had to read the regular Spider-Man titles to get the full story about his unmasking.) The issue does, however, do a good job of selling how the Marvel Universe as we once knew it is over, and we’re now in an unpredictable place.

Next: It’s Splitsville.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a sprawling city full of far-out tech and secret magic. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid full of action, romance, mystery, and laughs. The first three chapters are FREE! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Gunslinger Spawn copyedited, part 11

Todd McFarlane is a mega-millionaire with success undreamt of. I’m just some guy. But as I’ve been buying and reading – and enjoying! – Gunslinger Spawn, I’m struck with how the dialogue and captions are something of a mess. Hence, here’s my attempt to copyedit Gunslinger Spawn.

Continuing with issue #4, Clown has Gunslinger slung up in a tree. This gives Clown the opportunity for exposition.

Clown does the sarcastic villain thing, talking in a sarcastic formal manner. Still, it could use some trimming:

“Cute trick, hiding weapons in your hat. I can’t pry them out.”

Clown continues, with more info about Gunslinger’s weapons.

More opportunities to shorten this dialogue for efficiency, while not losing Clown’s sense of self-importance:

“Appears you were clever enough to fuse them with your symbiote so only you can remove them. Your bullet belts won’t budge either.”

Clown returns Gunslinger’s hat.

“Don’t look so surprised” could be considered a cliché. A quick edit:

“Surprised? You’re not the only one with necro-powers.”

In the next caption, we see more opportunities for some efficient edits:

This can become:

“You know who gave me those powers?”

Then, a lot of exposition that further ties Gunslinger Spawn into the greater Spawn continuity.

It’s understood among Spawn readers that, despite multiple hellspawns running around, just the name “Spawn” refers to the Al Simmons character. I kept this language plain, because it is expository:

“Spawn! He thought he got rid of me, but the opposite happened! As I was shot into the time rip he created, I scraped a little power from everyone coming the other way. This includes you.”

Clown explains that this power allowed him to turn his Clown persona and his demonic Violator persona into two separate beings.

Lots of unneeded words in this dialogue. You could delete the word “ever” from the first sentence, but I kept it to give Clown some “Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons” energy.

“Gunslinger, you might be the weakest hellspawn ever! It’s no shock that you acquired your powers illegally.”

Clown wants to make a deal:

The problem with this caption is how it flows into the next one on the next page, in which Clown says, “You can’t do that without me.” My suggestion:

“Your best chance for survival is to go back to your own timeline.”

Now follow that with “You can’t do that without me.”

More exposition:

Remove the single quotation marks, which serve no purpose. Then simplify the language, because this is important info the reader.

“The rip in time only moves in one direction, bringing people here. No one can go the other way because the dead zones are locked. Only Spawn has the key to them.”  

You could argue that my adding “to them” at the end of the last sentence is unnecessary, but I did it to emphasize the importance of this key.

More world-building:

The “mortal enemy” phrase could be a cliché. Also, Gunslinger spent the first three issues wanting to take down the Bartletts, so you’d think they’re his mortal enemies. Also, there’s a lot of unnecessary wordiness in the second caption. My edits:

“Cogliostro wants the key too. If he gets his hands on it first, do you think he’ll offer you the same deal? He’d sooner cut his own throat.”

Clown tempts Gunslinger with the possibility of returning to the Old West.

I don’t get the line “Spawn can’t do it,” when we just learned Spawn holds the key that can do it. My suggestion:

“Spawn, Cog, or anybody else don’t give a sh*t about what you want.”


“I don’t care either. But if you have even one reason to go back, I’m your best hope.”

The phrase “I’m your best hope,” could be a cliché. I kept it to emphasize the tempted-to-join-the-dark-side drama of the scene.

Gunslinger refuses, but Clown cuts him down from the tree anyway.

When using dashes, stop and think about whether what you’re writing can be multiple sentences instead.

“I’d prefer you didn’t. I like having a sharpshooter at my side. Your job’s easy. Get close to Spawn. Then, when the time comes, stab him in the back!”

That’s the cliffhanger for this issue, with Gunslinger not giving an answer. It’s not a done deal, as their talks will continue throughout the next issue. We’ll get to that… next time.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a sprawling city full of far-out tech and secret magic. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid full of action, romance, mystery, and laughs. The first three chapters are FREE! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Fantastic Friday: We gonna roll this trucking convoy

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Marvel’s Civil War mega-event continues with more heroes vs. heroes action in issues #538 and 539. Which side is Ben on?

One of the interesting things about Civil War is that rather than following the story from issue to issue, events are happening simultaneously across various comics. It’s a fascinating experiment, but it’s also difficult to assemble a timeline of what happened when. Case in point, it’s understood that during Civil War the superhero battles were so extreme and the collateral damage was so severe that this was practically a world-ending threat. But after reading all these comics over the last two weeks, I can not figure out where that started. What was the first big city-leveling battle of Civil War? When did the mega-violence begin? From what I can tell, between the previous issue and these two, the fighting just… happened.

We begin in Johnny’s hospital room, where he’s in a coma following the beating he took from civilians in Civil War #1. A doctor tells Reed, Sue and Ben that familiar voices might help him. Reed says he has important work to do, and Sue bickers with him about him and Iron Man fighting and arresting heroes previously thought of as their friends. They leave, and Ben stays behind him. He tells the sleeping Johnny that Thor’s hammer is still stuck in the ground in Oklahoma, with a line of local hicks trying and failing to pull it out. Sue returns, and she admits to Ben how conflicted she is about superhero registration.

On the way out of the hospital, Ben sees a TV news report about anti-reg protestors fighting police on Yancy Street. “It never ends,” he says. He travels to Yancy Street where pro-reg Ms. Marvel is battling anti-reg Silverclaw. Ben doesn’t interfere, letting them fight. Ben meets with some local cops, who say that they get attacked by the Yancy Street Gang every time the enter the gang’s territory looking for non-registered superhumans. Ben says he’ll take care of it.

All alone on Yancy Street, Ben demands a face-to-face meeting with the gang. Their new leader, Cee, approaches Ben. Another Yancy Streeter named Mouse is also there. They call Ben a “fascist” for being pro-reg. Ben says he’s neither for nor against registration, just that he’s “thinking about it.” He says he doesn’t like the idea of registration, but he doesn’t like the idea of fighting his own government either. Cee says Ben isn’t Switzerland and can’t remain neutral forever.

Later, we see a bald man receiving info about a security convoy for the heroes who’ve already been arrested. The man thanks him and goes inside. Turns out this is the Puppet Master, who is hanging out with the Mad Thinker again. The Thinker says the feuding heroes are the perfect fall guys, and they have the perfect opportunity eliminate a large chunk of the superhero population at once.

In Oklahoma, the line of people wanting to try Thor’s hammer has grown longer. A man whose face we don’t see fights his way to the front of the line and touches the hammer. It explodes with golden light and blasts off into the sky.

Issue #539 begins in Captain America’s secret underground hideout, where he’s meeting with Daredevil, Luke Cage, Cloak and Dagger. Cee and the other Yancy Streeters are granted an audience with Cap. Cee says he has information about a security convoy transferring the arrested superheroes through the city, and when and where it will happen.

We return to Puppet Master and the Mad Thinker, revealing their hideout is an abandoned factory in the middle of nowhere. They talk for a bit about their shared anger management issues (!), and then we see Puppet Master has built a huge scale model of part of Manhattan. They know that Cap’s side will attempt to stop the convoy, while Iron Man’s side will be waiting for them. Puppet Master plans to use puppets to recreate that area, mind-controlling civilians during the convoy. He says it’ll be a slaughter that will eliminate a bunch of their enemies at once.

Ben is eating at a diner when the convoy nears, while Captain America’s team are following the convoy in the sewers under the streets. New York civilian protestors block the streets, stopping the convoy. Puppet Master then mind-controls a military helicopter pilot overhead, making him fire on the convoy. Fighting breaks out between the two sides. Ben rushes in to help the civilians, while both Iron Man and Luke Cage assume he’s on their separate sides.

Puppet Master then mind-controls Mouse, getting him to retrieve a bomb hidden nearby. Mouse throws it toward the crowd. Ben picks up one of the convoy trucks and throws it atop the bomb, partially containing the explosion. It isn’t enough, as Cee dies in the blast.

Ben gets everyone to stop fighting for a sec. He shows them Cee’s body, saying this is what their violence has wrought. Iron Man and Captain America both try to get Ben to join their side. Ben says registration is wrong, yet he will not fight his own people. His only choice, then, is to leave the country. “I may not come back,” he says.

To be continued!

Wait, what about the convoy fight? This same battle is depicted in two other comics, letting us know what happened next. In Amazing Spider-Man #534, Cap’s team made a run for it, leading to an excellent Cap/Spidey fight scene. Then, in the Civil War: Choosing Sides one-shot, the Irredeemable Ant-Man got involved in the fight to do some jokey shtick. Afterwards, we learn Cap’s team successfully escaped, and Iron Man’s team stayed behind to help the surviving civilians.

Okay, NOW it’s to be continued!

Unstable molecule: Reed says that because the FF have no secret identities, they have nothing to fear about superhero registration. Sue and Ben disagree with him. Reed talks about rounding up other heroes, but he’s not present during the convoy fight. We’ll learn what he’s been up to later in the crossover.  

Fade out: Although the big break-up won’t be until later in Civil War, Sue is already anti-reg, criticizing Reed’s choices during their scene.

Clobberin’ time: Ben tries to cheer up the comatose Johnny by singing the “YMCA” song, claiming it’s a song he learned at temple.

Flame on: Again, I must ask how ordinary humans could beat Johnny so badly that he ended up in a coma. Even if he let them attack him so he wouldn’t accidentally burn anyone, you’d think he’d find an escape before it got this bad. The necessities of plot, I suppose.

Fantastic fifth wheel: She-Hulk and Tigra are both at the convoy battle on the pro-reg side, but they have no interaction with Ben.

Trivia time: Who were the arrested superheroes aboard the convoy? Did they escape with Cap’s team or are they still arrested? Was this all a big set-up by Iron Man? Or the Mad Thinker, even? Neither the comics nor the Marvel Wiki has any answers.

The Mad Thinker will show up again in Civil War, but not Puppet Master. It’ll later be revealed he fled the US and ended up Chile, where he created humanoid puppets for a gross human trafficking scheme.

Daredevil in this issue isn’t Daredevil! It’s Iron Fist wearing the DD uniform while attorney Matt Murdock fights the Civil War from within the legal system. In the Amazing Spider-Man issue, Daredevil is seen fighting Dagger, even though they’re both on Captain America’s team. Whose side was Iron Fist really on?  

Who is Silverclaw? She’s the adopted niece of the Avengers’ butler Jarvis (!), who used her shape-changing powers mostly to protect her Central American hometown. She had a short-lived membership with the Avengers and was a supporting character in Ms. Marvel for a while.

Who’s the Irredeemable Ant-Man? Eric O’Grady was a low-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and all-around troublemaker who stole an Ant-Man suit and used it to get into all kinds of hijinks. Strangely, his Civil War story is his first appearance, hitting the stands before his own miniseries.

The Marvel Wiki says Clark Kent appears in issue #358. Look closely, and that’s definitely him standing in line to lift Thor’s hammer. The epic JLA/Avengers crossover revealed that Superman can indeed lift Thor’s hammer.

Fantastic or frightful? Here we have Marvel characters – Ben, in this case – watching Civil War from the sidelines rather be in the thick of it. Stories like these were the best parts of the crossover, such as the excellent Front Line miniseries. Fantastic Four managed to have a little bit of fun amid all the big drama of Civil War, and we see that here.

Next: The big unmasking.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a sprawling city full of far-out tech and secret magic. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid full of action, romance, mystery, and laughs. The first three chapters are FREE! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Gunslinger Spawn copyedited, part 10

Todd McFarlane is a mega-millionaire with success undreamt of. I’m just some guy. But as I’ve been buying and reading – and enjoying! – Gunslinger Spawn, I’m struck with how the dialogue and captions are something of a mess. Hence, here’s my attempt to copyedit Gunslinger Spawn.

Continuing with issue #4, classic Spawn villain the Clown has Gunslinger cornered. Clown is multiple characters now, with a bunch of “baby Clowns” and a big Violator monster with him. Now, our time-displaced demonic cowboy anti-hero fights back.

This refers to Gunslinger starting the fight on the previous page by tossing a baby Clown at the Violator, giving himself an opening. Therefore, I don’t believe there’s any “if” as to whether Gunslinger will make a move. My suggestion:

“He makes his move!”

Or, if you want to describe the action with more specifics:

“He gave himself an opening, and now he makes his move!”

The baby Clowns pose no threat, so Gunslinger attacks the main villain.

This is awkward for readers because “he” could refer to either Gunslinger or Clown on first reading. My edit:

“As for Clown, Gunslinger has faced this overconfident type before.”

The Violator is too strong for Gunslinger, beating him senseless.

Again, a reminder to omit needless words:

“Enough! He gets my point.”

Clown regains the upper hand, and the two exchange barbs.

Shortening these sentences just a little can give them more impact:

“On your feet, cowboy.”


“I’ll get up when I’m ready, fat man!”

Clown furthers his menace.

I’d delete “As you wish,” as it’d just remind readers of The Princess Bride. Then cut to the point:

“I’m the alpha. Stop barking before you upset the other dogs.”

More villain/hero banter.

Is that what Gunslinger would do if afraid? Based on what we’ve seen in this series, he fights even harder when outnumbered and losing. My suggestion:

“Don’t make me unleash them.”


“Right. Why do your own fighting when you can cower behind others?”

You could remove “Right” from Gunslinger’s dialogue, but I kept it to give him some extra snarkiness.


More fighting!

I don’t know if “insubordination” works in this context, because Gunslinger is not one of Clown’s soldiers. Also, how could Gunslinger be both valuable and inferior? My suggestion:

“Clown knows Gunslinger’s immense value, but he won’t tolerate this behavior.”


“A lesson must be taught.”

The next caption:

What Yoda-speak is this? My edit:

“He whispers a single syllable, ‘Go.’”

The baby Clowns reveal how powerful they are. They overwhelm and defeat Gunslinger.

The phrase “minion troops” phrase is awkward, but I kept it because just “minions” would remind people of those cartoon movies.

“The minion troops offer the bleeding hero to their master, like a sacrifice.”

Clown and his crew then tie a noose around Gunslinger’s neck and hang him from a nearby tree. It’s a dark and disturbing image, but also evocative of classic Westerns. You’d think this would be the cliffhanger, but there’s more issue #4 to go. We’ll get to that next week.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a sprawling city full of far-out tech and secret magic. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid full of action, romance, mystery, and laughs. The first three chapters are FREE! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Gunslinger Spawn copyedited, part 9

Todd McFarlane is a mega-millionaire with success undreamt of. I’m just some guy. But as I’ve been buying and reading – and enjoying! – Gunslinger Spawn, I’m struck with how the dialogue and captions are something of a mess. Hence, here’s my attempt to copyedit Gunslinger Spawn.

Issue #4 begins where the previous left off. Gunslinger was losing his fight against Dakota, only to be saved by classic Spawn villain the Clown. How can I copyedit Clown’s dialogue? He’s supposed to be an agent of chaos, unpredictable and outrageous. Best to look at when Clown is being serious versus when he’s being, you know, a clown.

The “looking into a man’s eyes” phrase could be considered a cliché. From there, we can righten this up to show Clown’s not joking.

“On your feet, cowboy. I’m about to make you an offer that’ll get you everything you want.”

Clown continues:

“Whether you like it or not” is an unneeded phrase. My edit:

“You’re about to become partners with the Clown!”

Next, an expository caption:

I get that McFarlane wants to emphasize how this is Gunslinger and Clown’s first meeting, but this is so wordy.

“Al Simmons has faced him dozens of times, but not Gunslinger.”

Clown is less jokey in this scene and more serious:

Some of this could be cliche, but it’s also Clown’s way of toying with Gunslinger. Just clean it up a little:

“I’ve seen many men walk away from their better interests, but you strike me as smarter than that.”

Dakota confronts Clown with this dialogue:

Dakota was working with angels last issue, but here we learn she’s working for or with the Clown? But she’s also fighting the Clown? Also, the single quotes are unnecessary to the point of distracting. My suggestion:

“Do you want me to soften him up for you or not?”

More details emerge as Dakota and Clown fight. She says:

Again, look for opportunities to makes sentences more concise, especially during action:

“If you’re taking over, why’d you send me?”

Dakota leaves. Clown jokes (or not?) about recruiting Gunslinger in a plan to take over the world. Gunslinger says this:

A simple edit can make this line more intense:

“I’m losing my patience!”


“I’ve lost my patience!”

Clown swipes Gunslinger’s hat, which infuriates Gunslinger:

Avoid semicolons. Better to break those sentences into shorter, punchier ones:

“Excuse my pets. They’re not housetrained.”

Then we learn that Clown and Violator are now two characters, and not a transforming werewolf type:

This is a tricky one, because there’s a lot of information to get across. In addition to shortening it, I also rearranged sentences to showcase Clown’s sarcasm:

“Think I don’t have protection? Let me introduce my loyal companion, the Violator! We go way back.”

Gunslinger goes for his hat, and a fight breaks out. We’ll get that next time.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a sprawling city full of far-out tech and secret magic. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid full of action, romance, mystery, and laughs. The first three chapters are FREE! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Fantastic Friday: Not so civil

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. It’s time to talk about Civil War, the crossover mega-epic that tore the Marvel Universe to pieces (for a while, anyway). I’d always thought of Civil War as an Iron Man/Spider-Man/Captain America story. But upon re-reading, I see that it’s a lot of Fantastic Four content. Let’s dive in.

If you weren’t following comics in 2005-2006, you might not get why this story was such a big deal. Like Secret Wars II, this was an ambitious project intended to cross over with every Marvel comic and include every character, both famous and obscure. What’s more, the event made full use of internet fan culture. Marvel offered fans banners for their message board signatures (I miss message boards) with the “Whose side are you on?” tagline. Fans were tasked to pick sides just like the characters did, with specific “I’m with Iron Man” and “I’m with Cap” banners. This of course led to fan-made parody banners with “I’m with Homer Simpson,” etc. Every new issue of Civil War was hotly debated online, which only made the following issue anticipated even more.

I have a theory. One of the controversies of Civil War came from fans arguing that the Marvel heroes were acting out of character. They were siding with enemies and fighting their friends. Iron Man seemed villainous, Captain America rejected America, and, most famously, Spider-Man revealed his secret identity to the world. My theory is this: Civil War asks what would happen if the Marvel heroes acted out of character, and would do things that they’d never normally do? Civil War answers that question and follows it to its rather chaotic conclusion.

Civil War issue #1 begins with the New Warriors, who at this time were starring in their own reality TV show. A camera crew followed them everywhere during their superhero adventures. They’re in Stamford, Connecticut, tracking down supervillains Coldheart, Cobalt Man, Speedfreak, and Nitro. A fight breaks out, with a lot of gags about ratings and looking good in front of the camera. Namorita smashes Nitro into a nearby school bus. Nitro unleashes his nuclear powers, and a nearby elementary school goes up in a mushroom cloud.

Cut to later, when the New Avengers, the X-Men, and other Marvel heroes are at the site, helping with wreckage cleanup. There are skeletons all around, as well as a burned-up American flag, if you’re in the mood for some heavy symbolism. Iron Man says Nitro is still alive, and they have a lead on him, but Captain America is more concerned with helping FEMA on the recovery site. Cap says there are around 900 casualties, many of them children.

Giant Man, a.k.a. Bill Foster, says this event will change everything. He lists several other destructive events that recently happened, including the Las Vegas Hulk/Thing fight in Fantastic Four. “They’ll be coming after us,” he says. Then we get talk about the proposed Superhero Registration Act, which has already been brewing in several Marvel comics leading up to this. A woman spits at Tony Stark (!) during a Stamford memorial She blames him for superhero violence, since he publicly funds the Avengers. During all this, we get one-panel glimpses of news reports arguing about how dangerous superheroes are, and how something must be done.

Then the FF enter the picture. In New York, Johnny meets with his date, an unnamed hot blonde, at a cool nightclub. He’s confronted on the sidewalk outside by locals who accuse him of the same type of violence that went down in Connecticut. Johnny insists he had nothing to do with the New Warriors, but the growing crowd doesn’t believe him. He’s knocked unconscious when someone hits him on the head with a beer bottle. Then the crowd dogpiles, beating the crap out of him.

Later, at the new Baxter Building, a huge crowd of superheroes have gathered to discuss superhero registration. Dr. Strange spells out the conflict saying his only choices are either to register and become a federal employee or face a warrant for his arrest. Luke Cage argues it’s not about superheroes becoming civil servants, it’s really about the government wanting to shut them down.  Iron Man counter-argues that registration will make superheroes legitimate, better-trained and publicly accountable. No one can agree on a course of action, debating on whether hiding their identities behind masks is necessary or dangerous. The only thing everyone can agree on is that all their lives are about to change.

On board the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Commander Maria Hill asks Captain America whether his fellow superheroes will agree to registration. He says they’re split, and this will lead to the heroes at war with one another. Hill says she’s already preparing an anti-superhuman response unit, and she wants Captain America to lead it by hunting down and arresting any heroes who are anti-registration. Cap says that the superheroes need to stay above politics, and that Washington shouldn’t tell them who the villains are. Hill responds by surrounding Cap with a bunch of armored S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. After debating it a little more, Hill orders the agents to attack Cap out-fights them all (because of course he does). He smashes his way out of the Helicarrier and rides a fighter plane like a surfboard to escape.

Back at the Baxter Building, the heroes continue their debate. Then the Watcher appears, silently observing them all. Dr. Strange (not Reed) reminds everyone that the Watcher only appears in person during times of great crisis.

In Washington DC, there are crowds of protestors outside the White House (this happens a lot in Marvel Comics). Inside, the President chides his staff for letting Captain America go. Cap’s actions will make superhero registration even more controversial, and that every anti-registration hero will now rally behind him as their leader. Then we see that Iron Man, Yellowjacket, and our own Mr. Fantastic are there as well. Iron Man says, “Leave Captain America to us.”  

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: You’ll remember that a similar superhero registration debate occurred during Acts of Vengeance, and at that time Reed was strictly anti-reg. Why is he then pro-reg in Civil War? After Acts, Reed has seen several instances of super-powers going out of control:

  • When fighting Devos, Johnny lost control of his powerful nova flame, destroying part of Empire State University, a tragedy Johnny had to deal with for quite some time.
  • The FF battled Hyperstorm, a godlike being who turned out to be Reed’s grandson from the future. When everyone thought he was dead, Reed was in Hyperstorm’s post-apocalyptic future. It was a nightmare world brought about by super-powered being warring with one another.
  • Onslaught was another godlike being, born from a combination of mutants, including Reed’s son Franklin. The only way to stop Onslaught was for a bunch of nonmutant superheroes to sacrifice their lives. They were only saved thanks to Franklin’s subconscious machinations.
  • When Reed’s mind was trapped in Dr. Doom’s body, he had to pretend to be Dr. Doom. This was the only way to keep Doom’s four generals from invading the Earth with an alien army. Doom’s armor then affected Reed, making act more and more Doom-like.
  • The FF attempted to take over and run Latveria to undo all the evil things Dr. Doom had done. Reed acted in opposition to the US government and it didn’t end well, creating an international incident and making the FF fall on hard times.
  • During Marvel Knights: 4, Psycho-Man took over the Baxter Building for a crisis that got so extreme that it threatened to blot out the sun (!).
  • Similarly, Diablo held all of New York hostage while there was chaos in the streets as everyone’s dreams went haywire.
  • Reed worked with the government in Nevada, where astronauts wanted to recreate the FF’s original spaceflight and give themselves powers. Cosmic beings warned Reed to prevent this from happening.

Fade out: Sue seems pro-reg when she tells Spider-Man that life without a secret identity hasn’t been a problem for her. (It hasn’t?) She’ll change her tune shortly.

Clobberin’ time: Ben seems pro-reg during the debate, arguing that Johnny was injured because of street-level masks giving the FF a bad name. He too will quickly change his tune.

Flame on: How can one guy with a beer bottle manage to take out the Human Torch? Maybe he let the crowd get him for fear of not burning anyone.

Fantastic fifth wheel: She-Hulk is interviewed by Larry King (!), where she argues that without superheroes, no one will be able to stop supervillains. She then says she’s open to the idea of supes with badges and training. She’s also at the Baxter Building meeting, but she doesn’t say anything.

Trivia time: The New Warriors lineup is Night Thrasher, Speedball, Microbe, and Namorita. Speedball will not only survive, but become a major character in Civil War in his darker Penance persona. Night Thrasher returns when his soul is restored in a clone of himself. Microbe stayed dead, never appearing again after this. Same for Namorita, sadly. No mention is made of her and Johnny having dated mostly off-panel for several years.

Nitro’s fugitive status will be ongoing concern during Civil War, with questions whether he was powerful enough to explode like he did in Stamford. Coldheart survived the explosion through unknown means, and will later be seen inside a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison. Cobalt Man died and was seen a few times when characters visited the afterlife. He later came back to life for real in a Deadpool story. Speedfreak stayed dead, and this was his last appearance.

Yellowjacket and Spider-Woman are both prominent in this issue, but we’ll later learn they’re Skrulls in disguise, setting up the Secret Invasion crossover.  

Fantastic or frightful? Whew, this is a lot. It succeeds in building a lot of tension, and bringing so much of what’s happening in Marvel come together all at once. The Captain America fight is especially exciting. But all the debates about registration go on for a page or two too long, as writer Mark Millar bends over backwards to create controversy. Still, Civil War is one of the tallest mountains in Marvel continuity, and this issue sets the stage for it all. And away we go.

Next: Hitting the streets.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a sprawling city full of far-out tech and secret magic. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid full of action, romance, mystery, and laughs. The first three chapters are FREE! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Gunslinger Spawn copyedited, part 8

Todd McFarlane is a mega-millionaire with success undreamt of. I’m just some guy. But as I’ve been buying and reading – and enjoying! – Gunslinger Spawn, I’m struck with how the dialogue and captions are something of a mess. Hence, here’s my attempt to copyedit Gunslinger Spawn.

Let’s finish issue #3 with some action! There’s one full page of fighting as Gunslinger battles Dakota’s henchmen. It’s nice restraint by McFarlane to let artist Brett Booth drive and not cover things up with needless captions. On the next page, Dakota’s dialogue could be improved with a little editing:

Break her first line into two sentences, then remove the unnecessary quotation marks:

“Put away your gun. Necro-bullets don’t work on me.”

In her second line, tightening up the sentence gives Dakota more menace:  

“Others better than you have tried.”

Her henchmen defeated, Dakota uses her dinosaurs to attack Gunslinger.

Is “With a wave” a cliché? You could make that argument. And shouldn’t “ten times their size” be bigger than we see? One possible rewrite:

“She gestures, and her prehistoric pets grow in size.”

Dakota’s line is odd, in that we the readers aren’t sure what her powers are. You could shorten it to, “My servants share my power.” Or, for a complete rewrite, call back to what she said earlier:

“Your bullets won’t work on my servants, either.”

None of Gunslinger’s attacks harm the dinosaurs.

Another too-wordy caption in the middle of the action. My edit:

“He’s fought demons hundreds of times, but these creatures are somehow different.”

The dinosaurs take a bite out of Gunslinger, so he uses dynamite against them.

Is the “Badly injured” phrase needed here? It’s debatable. “Last hidden” doesn’t work for me either. First because we’ve already seen that Gunslinger has hidden weapons on him. Second because it’s not his last. He uses more knives after this.

“He’s injured, but he’s got one more weapon to play.”

Then another too-descriptive caption:

Fewer words accentuate the action:

“Even that fails.”

The fight continues with an adverb-happy caption:

Google Stephen King and adverbs. He has a lot to say about never using adverbs. Also, “Out of his league” is a cliché.

“He can’t slow them down.”


They’re too strong, even for him.

Just when it seems like Gunslinger is finished, he’s saved (or is he?) by the Clown, a classic Spawn villain. This brings the series into the greater Spawn mythology, and it’s the cliffhanger that ends issue #3.

Come back next week, when the series goes full Spawn.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a sprawling city full of far-out tech and secret magic. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid full of action, romance, mystery, and laughs. The first three chapters are FREE! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Fantastic Friday: It’s suppertime

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Civil War is about to tear the Marvel Universe to pieces, but we have one quick stop to make first, in the Fantastic Four Special one-shot by Dwayne McDuffie and Casey Jones.

We begin with a flashback to Reed and Dr. Doom in college, and how they were rival scientists from the start. Young Reed tries to talk young Doom out of his otherworldly experiments, but Doom refuses to listen. His experiment blows up, horribly scarring his face. Reed wonders if he’s the one to blame.

Cut to the present, and Reed is telling all this to Sue while she adjusts his bowtie for a tuxedo he’s wearing. He’s preparing for dinner with Dr. Doom (!), and he admits to Sue that his guilt isn’t about Doom’s accident, but a small thrill he got from knowing he was right and Doom was wrong. Sue urges Reed not to accept Doom’s dinner invitation, but Reed says, “We’re all responsible for what happens to everybody.”

Reed flies the Fantasticar to the Latverian Embassy, musing about how Dr. Doom is the most dangerous man on Earth. Doom greets him at the door and says Reed’s safety is guaranteed for this day. Today is the “Rapprochement Festival,” a holiday of Doom’s invention in honor of his mother’s memory. Part of this new tradition, Doom says, is to reach out to someone you have wronged, so Doom is reaching out to Reed. They shake hands. Doom again assured Reed that no harm will come to him this day, and they toast to rapprochement.

Doom gives Reed a tour of the embassy. Reed deduces that one doorway they go through is a teleporter, and they’re now in Castle Doom in Latveria. Before Doom can answer, we cut to Stark Tower, current home of the Avengers, where Johnny is visiting Spider-Man and Captain America. After some banter about Spidey being an Avenger now, Johnny admits that Reed thinks Doom is plotting to steal something, and there are very few places in NYC that Doom can’t access. One is Stark Tower. We then cut to the second spot, Damage Control headquarters, where Sue warns them that their high-security basement vault is another target.

Back in the castle, Doom says that a Latverian holiday should be celebrated in Latveria. He and Reed then continue an unfinished chess game they once started in college. They’re both such geniuses that they remember the layout of the board from years earlier.

At Stark Tower, the Avengers get an emergency call. Spidey and Cap run off, leaving Johnny to hold down the fort. Johnny makes a phone call and says, “It’s just about showtime.” At the castle, Reed asks why Doom doesn’t use his genius for the benefit of mankind, and Doom says he and Reed have differing opinions as to what that is.

At the new Baxter Building, Ben spots Dr. Doom trying to get into the building. Sue has a Doom of her own attacking Damage Control, while Johnny fights one at Stark Tower. Reed gets an alert about what’s happening, and he quips that Doom knows it doo. They continue their polite evening and sit down to dinner. In New York, the fighting continues, with the other FF-ers deducing that their Dr. Dooms are mere Doombots.

Reed and Doom continue their dinner. Reed admits that after Doom’s failed experiment in college, Reed saved a piece of Doom’s machine that was considered irreplaceable. He also says that Dr. Strange warned him that the anniversary of Doom’s mother’s death is magically significant. Reed gets a signal on his watch saying the Doombots have been destroyed. Reed then finishes – and wins! – the chess game. Reed asks if he and Doom are to fight to the death now. Doom says he’s lost his appetite and asks to continue this another time.

But Reed isn’t done. He admits that he kept the piece of Doom’s machine because he was afraid. Doom was opening a portal to Hell, and Reed feared this meant unleashing extradimensional powers on the Earth. Then Reed says he later deduced the piece’s real intent, that it was a lodestone whose only purpose is to locate Doom’s mother’s sole. Reed pulls the lodestone from his pocket and returns it to Doom, agreeing that this is a day of rapprochement. Doom accepts the gift, but he says, “This changes nothing between us, Richards!” Reed says, “I think it does, just a little bit,” followed by, “Same time next year?”

Unstable molecule: Among all the politeness between Reed and Doom, Reed also praises Doom’s taste in art and classical music. This shows yet another aspect of Reed’s genius, that he knows all about this stuff.

Fade out: Sue deduces that her Doom is a Doombot and not the real thing after she tries to disorient it by turning the floor underneath it invisible.

Clobberin’ time: Ben is working out when the Doombot attacks. He says his weights are made of super-heavy osmium, and that his strength isn’t all genetic, but that he must work out to keep his strength up.

Flame on: Spider-Man asks Johnny whatever became of Dorrie Evans, and Johnny doesn’t answer. Those who read Marvels Snapshot: Fantastic Four know all about Dorrie.

Trivia time: Spider-Man’s wearing his classic uniform in this, instead of his new red and yellow Iron Spider armor. He was going back and forth between the two at this time.

It’s not mentioned in this issue, but remember that Dr. Doom succeeded in freeing his mother’s soul from Hell in Doctor Strange and Dr. Doom: Triumph and Torment.

How did the lodestone survive after all these years, including the destruction of the original Baxter Building. Remember that the Watcher saved a bunch of the FF’s personal items from the explosion, so we can conclude that the lodestone was one of them.

Fantastic or frightful? Dwayne McDuffie was one of the all-time great writers, and this is a nice little self-contained story. Its placement in chronology is curious, as the rest of Marvel Comics were overflowing with hype over Civil War at the time. Still, it’s a nice slice-of-life tale, or as slice-of-life as Fantastic Four gets.

Next: Not so civil.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a sprawling city full of far-out tech and secret magic. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid full of action, romance, mystery, and laughs. The first three chapters are FREE! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Gunslinger Spawn copyedited, part 7

Todd McFarlane is a mega-millionaire with success undreamt of. I’m just some guy. But as I’ve been buying and reading – and enjoying! – Gunslinger Spawn, I’m struck with how the dialogue and captions are something of a mess. Hence, here’s my attempt to copyedit Gunslinger Spawn.

Continuing issue #3, Gunslinger and Taylor dig up a hidden stash Gunslinger buried back in the Old West.

First, remove the “So,” from Taylor’s dialogue, as it isn’t needed. Then, simplify and rearrange some of Gunslinger’s lines for efficiency:

“Not just guns. I got two dozen of these hidden treasures. Always knew the enemy was coming. Had to be prepared.”

The characters next contemplate Taylor’s future:

“Come to your senses” is a cliché, but I kept it in this case, because we need some kind of explanation for why Taylor hasn’t run off yet. Just a short edit then:

“You come to your senses about finding a place to hide?”

In the second panel, it’s confusing when Gunslinger says “they” because it seems he’s talking about Taylor’s family at first. I’ve also deleted what look to me like redundancies. My edit:

“It can’t be near your kin. The enemy will look there first. Your dad and his family’s been a part of their scheming for centuries.”

Gunslinger gives Taylor some gold from his stash, and now it’s time to say goodbye:

The caption could be shorter, as we’ve seen Gunslinger’s seriousness all issue long:

“The two men finalize their plan.”

We learn Gunslinger’s real name.

This dialogue must be shorter, to give this moment some real emotional punch.

“If it matters, call me Javi.”

Next, I suggest splitting Taylor’s next word balloon into two smaller ones, to further that emotional punch. “How you’re going do,” is strange phrasing. My suggestion:

“I guess this is it, Javi.”

“How are you going to get by if you can’t read or write?”

Gunslinger says he’ll be fine, and they part ways. Unless I missed something, I believe this is the last time we see Taylor in the vol. 1 trade. Except we can’t be done with the character, right? Because the angels had his picture?

Next there’s a sequence of events where Gunslinger sleeps in “the prairies” (where is this?) and then rides his bike to a field where he waits an entire day for his enemies to arrive. Why not skip a step and have him leave Taylor, drive to the field, and then wait? The idea is to build suspense by showing a passage of time, but even that can be done more efficiently.

Speaking of efficiency, here’s my suggestion for this panel:

“He’s met enemies on this field before.”

Is the “isolated from prying eyes” detail needed, or does the artwork convey that? It’s debatable.


Just a small edit:

“A day passes before he sees their dust trail.”

I recommend cutting the second caption, as the “dust trail” line says it all.

Dakota and her goons confront Gunslinger.

Remove the caption, as Dakota’s body language already gets that across. Separate Dakota’s big word balloon into two for the two panels. Dakota’s “straight to the point” line is a cliché. The word “very” can almost always be cut. My suggestions:

“We’re making plans, and you could be useful.”


“Problem is, I’ve seen plenty of ‘heroes’ that didn’t live up to their hype. You the real deal?”

The “real deal” line could be a cliché, but I kept it to go with the comic’s Western vibe.

 This is Gunslinger’s response:

The “doesn’t utter a syllable” line is awkward. My edit:

“Gunslinger holsters his weapons.”

Dakota’s “strong silent type” line is a cliché. I’m thinking we can delete her line from this panel and let Gunslinger’s actions build suspense by themselves. It works, because he’s about to fistfight the goons when we turn the page. But we’ll get to that… next time.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a sprawling city full of far-out tech and secret magic. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid full of action, romance, mystery, and laughs. The first three chapters are FREE! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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Fantastic Friday: Hammer and eggs

Reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. Issue #537 brings us one step closer to Marvel’s Civil War mega-event.

Recap: Thor died heroically in the big Ragnarok story that ended his comic. Now, his hammer has come crashing down to Earth (Oklahoma, to be exact). The Army set up a dome around the hammer, only for a small army of Doombots to attack it. The Fantastic Four arrived on scene to battle the Doombots, only to find a back-from-the-dead Dr. Doom also at the scene.

This issue begins with a caption telling us that no one has tried to lift the hammer yet. Then Reed speaks on behalf of the audience, asking how Doom is still alive. We flash back to Doom in Hell, where we last saw him. We see him weakened, yet still strong enough to fight off all the demons intent on tearing him apart. Then he has a vision of Ragnarok and the Asgardians dying. The battle is so great, Doom says, that rends the fabric of reality itself, causing a tear in Hell’s dimensional plane. He sees the hammer fly through the tear and he follows it back to Earth.

The flashback continues in Latveria, where the acting prime minister of the provisional government speculates that Doom will never return, and that he could make good use of all the leftover Doombots. Doom then returns, strangling the prime minister. He orders the other government goons to find where Thor’s hammer landed.

Cut back to the present. Instead of telling all this to Reed, Doom merely says, “It matters not.” He has the Doombots attack the FF while he strides toward the hammer, which is at the center of the crater left behind from last issue’s big explosion. Reed picks up Ben and throws him into the crater with orders to stop. Ben fights Doom, temporarily switching his catch phrase to, “It’s hammer time!”

Doom stops Ben by blinding him with a bright light. Doom reaches for the hammer, and an even more spectacular white light fills the entire sky. When it fades, we see that Doom has failed to lift the hammer. Doom says he felt the power of Asgard when he witnessed Ragnarok, and he thought that would be enough to give him control of the hammer. “I was wrong,” he says.

Doom summons a jet and flies off, telling the FF to let the hammer serve as Thor’s gravestone. Once he’s gone, Reed speculates that if Doom did have a piece of Asgard’s power in him, maybe that somehow woke up the hammer for a minute. He further speculates that the giant blast might have been a signal to someone, but he can’t say who. Then Ben tries and fails to lift the hammer. “Wouldn’t you give it a shot?” he says. “Just in case?”

Then we go to elsewhere in Oklahoma, where the hammer’s blast has knocked out the power. A man buys a ticket at a bus station. A news report says this was one of many incidents throughout the state, concluding that, “Something major is coming to Oklahoma.”

To be continued!

Unstable molecule: Reed throwing Ben through the air seems to be a variation of all the times he’s stretched into a slingshot to do it. He wraps himself around Ben and then flings Ben a huge distance.

Fade out: Sue’s job is to keep the Doombots at bay while Ben and Reed deal with Dr. Doom. We never see what becomes of the Doombots, so I guess she succeeded.

Clobberin’ time: This isn’t the first time an enemy has slowed Ben down by blinding him. In The Thing #17 he spent an entire issue sightless after getting blasted in the eyes by a villain called the Reckoner. But this took place on Battleworld, meaning the Reckoner was therefore only one part of Ben’s fractured subconscious.

Flame on: Johnny says he’s too weak to pursue Doom’s jet because the blast from the hammer was so powerful it weakened his flame.

Trivia time: This issue and #536 were featured in a Road to Civil War trade paperback. The trade also featured the New Avengers: Illuminati one-shot in which the Illuminati launch the Hulk into space and then disband (or do they?) after debating superhero registration. The other issues in the trade are Amazing Spider-Man #529-530, in which Tony Stark hired Peter Parker as his assistant full-time, which Peter half-jokingly calls “a blood pact.” This was the first appearance of the red and gold Iron Spider armor, and Tony and Peter’s visit to Washington DC to argue in favor of superhero registration.

Yes, the man buying the bus ticket will turn out to be someone important. We’ll follow his story in issues to come, just as we’ll continue to follow the situation in Oklahoma.

Dr. Doom is back in his classic armor in this issue. What happened to his newfangled magic armor, that was grossly made from the remains of lost love Valeria? He states that it’s damaged, but he does show up in Latveria still wearing it. Therefore, he likely still has it in a closet somewhere.

Not long before this issue, Castle Doom was destroyed in the 2005 Secret Wars miniseries. The Marvel Wiki confirms that the one in this issue is a newly rebuilt Castle Doom.

Fantastic or frightful? This issue does a better job of justifying Doom’s return than the previous one. But really, both Dr. Doom and Thor’s hammer in this storyline are all about setting things up for the near future. I suppose that’s what the “Road to Civil War” branding was about, but it feels anticlimactic for Doom to fail to lift the hammer and then just leave.

Next: Just another family get together.

* * * *

Want more? Check out my new ongoing serial, THE SUBTERKNIGHTS, on Kindle Vella. A man searches for his missing sister in a sprawling city full of far-out tech and secret magic. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid full of action, romance, mystery, and laughs. The first three chapters are FREE! Click here for a list of all my books and serials.

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