Peak Fantastic Four, plus King Arthur

FANTASTIC FOUR: The Coming Of Galactus by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby is mid-sixties Marvel, when the company was at its creative peak. It’s not just that they have good stories like the battle with Gregory Gideon; as they go on the stories just flow seamlessly from one issue to another. Their battle with the Frightful Four leads into a big clash with Doctor Doom which leads back to the Frightful Four which leads almost immediately to the debut of the Inhumans, followed by the coming of Galactus. And in the middle we get the wedding of Reed and Sue, the first big crossover event (even though it only takes one annual to tell it).

They aren’t all gems — the Atlantean Lady Dorma is a dreadful character — but if the Lee/Kirby style of melodrama works for you, this is great stuff.

For a very different type of comic, there are the first three volumes of Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora’s ONCE AND FUTURE: The King Is Undead, Old English and Parliament of Magpies. In the first issue, British white supremacists raise Arthur to purify England of its immigrants. Oops — turns out telling a Celtic warlord turned Celtic myth that you want him to save Britain for the Anglo-Saxon race does not go over well. That doesn’t change the fact that Arthur’s back and everyone who’s not a Celt is an invader in his eyes and therefore on his shit list.

The opposition? Bridgette McGuire, an elderly, tart-tongued, chain-smoking monster hunter and her unwitting grandson Duncan. Bridgette’s job is to kill the figures of myth before more people can believe in them; she’s hidden this from Duncan because it’s so easy to get caught up and become part of the stories (I can’t but wonder if Gillen wasn’t influenced by Unwritten). Too late now, and more stories are on the way … Easily the most offbeat Arthurian story I’ve read in years, and way better than the equally off-beat Tears to Tiara.

#SFWApro. Covers by Jack Kirby and Dan Mora, all rights remain with current holders.

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Filed under Comics, Reading

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