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Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #41

Posted: Saturday, November 1, 2008
By: Ray Tate

Paul Tobin
David Hahn, Andrew Dalhouse (c)
Marvel Comics
"Collectible Red Variant"

I admire Jack Kirby as an illustrator and a creative genius. He is without a doubt the single most important figure in comic book history. Without him the Marvel we know would never have been, and one can scarcely imagine the DC universe without the Fourth World.

My admiration for Jack Kirby doesn't mean that I will automatically latch on to anything he conceives. For instance, the Green Team struck me as an asinine idea, and I've only liked Kamandi when he ran into "Captain Bat" in issues of Brave and Bold.

Moonboy and Devil Dinosaur is another concept given life by the King that left me cold. Naturally I accept evolution, but I've never been a huge dinosaur aficionado in the first place and throwing some filthy, probably lice-infested missing link into the mix didn't make me feel any warmer toward the crimson saurian.

As one can surmise from the cover, Paul Tobin introduces Jack Kirby's Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy into Marvel Adventures by way of the Fantastic Four. Surprisingly, the introduction works perfectly.

Tobin finds a logical means to explain how a zoo might acquire a Devil Dinosaur, and he gives the beast emotional depth through the Thing's empathy. Tobin doesn't push things. It's very clear what Ben is feeling, but Ben's thoughts aren't hammered at the reader. Johnny's in the double-act to get closer to the attractive zoologist, and the rest of the team give reasons for their visits that suit their characterization.

The villain of the piece is a classic, and the title gives you a clue to his identity. Tobin takes some departures from the villain's traditional behavior, but without betraying the essence of the character. It's this essence that evolves the conflict.

David Hahn's artwork meshes beautifully with Tobin's story. Throughout, Tobin strives to make the story light-hearted, and Hahn follows suit with his typically cute, youthful FF and the aforementioned charming zookeeper. Hahn's sensibilities knock off some of the edge from the mystery villain. He grooms Moonboy into an amiable monkey-human, and warm, fuzzy moments abound from Ben's relationship with Devil as well as the affectionate way the rest of the primates treat him early in the story. Hahn in addition gives Reed and Sue the natural propinquity expected from a couple.

I haven't read a proper FF book since Mark Waid left a distaste in my mouth when he had Dr. Doom wearing the skin of his once great love. The Civil War artificially split the team and all for little reason. I don't know what the quartet is like in Marvel proper; probably Skrullish. What I do know is that in Marvel Adventures the FF act like the super-heroes they are supposed to be. They take sides, and they have fun standing up for the right thing. They haven't been encased in '70s amber either. Rather Tobin and Hahn make Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four sophisticated entertainment for people who don't like to wince or roll their eyes when they read their comic books.



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