Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Petri Dish of Unnatural Progress

Here's what Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch accomplished during their year on the Fantastic Four magazine. A team of vaguely familiar refugees from 500 years in the future led a mass evacuation of the population of the dying future Earth (due to some environmental cautionary tale or another) onto an artificial "Nu-Earth" (it's Millar, we let him get away with it), a build-to-prospect life-size Earth replica (manufactured as an escape plan for the rich and powerful in just this far-future eventuality) orbiting on the other side of the Sun from "Old Bitty Earth".

I admired the concept, really. "Hey the future is only a short rocket ride around the sun from here"! Some ill-named 'Fantastic Force' mini-series explored the world further, but I think it's a case of "If noone's reading the book, did the tree really ever fall in the forest to provide the paper for it?".

Cue Jonathan Hickman, taking over from Millar as new writer on the book, and starting off with a very well-received storyline. Other writers would simply choose to ignore everything that came before and just take things where they want them taken. It's a true and tried method of conducting business (and if you slap a #1 on the cover it also makes for a sweet jump in sales), but readers eventually catch on and tire from the constant dis- in their continuity. Props to Hickman then for deciding to take an issue off from his own plans to tie up loose plot threads from the departing creative team and give readers a sense of coherence between the two runs. Credit to Hickman for doing it in such a brass and enjoyably shameless manner.

This issue, the Thing and Human Torch journey back to Nu-Earth for some R&R and future Nu-strippers (btw thumbs up for the delightfully misleading cover) but instead find themselves in the middle of Nu-Mad Max. While only a few weeks have gone by on Earth, years have passed there (I'm avoiding doing the logistics here, considering both Earths inhabit opposite ends of the same orbit, tralalalala), and civilisation has died, blah blah, while beloved annoying characters from Millar's run have perished, turned evil, or become walking brains-in-a-jar. By the issue's end, the whole dangling concept has been safely shelved on the attic of Limbo and the characters scattered in the four corners of the Marvel U (hopefully) never to be seen again. Poor Banner Jr.

As far as house-cleaning issues go, I'd put this right up there with exploding buses full of unwanted extraneous depowered students, falling satellites with c-list Justice Leaguers, and robot bug infested island genocides. The future is dead, now let's get on with our stories.

Source: Fantastic Four #573 (Marvel Comics)


Tom said...

Eh? Isn't Counter-Earth in the exact same orbit of the Sun? How do they co-exist in the exact same location?

Manolis Vamvounis said...

we dont talk about counter-earth :p

Αλέξανδρος said...

from now on we won't be talking about Nu-Earth (and for that matter the rest of Millar's run) (:P)

seriously, i thought this issue was largely unnecessary.. Not that i liked the characters or anything, but i though the idea was to have the Fantastic Force there and use them whenever someone wanted to and still not mess with the rest of the universe

Manolis Vamvounis said...

well, the structure of it is still there, so hopefully he wil find a better way to utilise it than Fantastic Force