As we trudge ever-closer to the end of 2015, we're taking a look back at 2015 in the life of The Fantasticast. Yesterday, we covered January-March. Today, we're focusing on April-June, as we moved closer to the release of the Fantastic Four movie, and a lot of people started to pay attention to what we do.
We started April with a feeling of deja vu, as we covered Fantastic Four #108 - The Monstrous Mystery of the Nega-Man. Why? Well, Fantastic Four #108 saw the unfinished Jack Kirby artwork for a rejected issue of the Fantastic Four repurposed and enhanced to provide the origin of Janus the Nega-Man. This led to an unusual episode, where a lot of the visuals had already been covered by us (Fantastic Four - The Lost Adventure), but the context (and Stan's scripting) was new.
No prizes for guessing who the villain in Fantastic Four #109 - Death In The Negative Zone was! To celebrate the return of Annihilus, we invited Chris Thompson, host of Orbital Comics In Conversation, to join us for this episode and the next. Chris is a fantastic podcaster, and his interviews are some of the best in comics podcasting. He's also a huge FF fan and, as an extra bonus, works at my local comics shop. We had a lot of fun looking at this issue and the general craziness that comes with any return to the Negative Zone.
After a few weeks off for personal reasons, we returned in May with our coverage of Fantastic Four #110 - One From Four Leaves Three. We also invited Chris Thompson of Orbital Comics In Conversation to return to help us finish off this episode. Thankfully, by this point, Janus the Nega-Man had left the story, never to return*. Instead, we got to have more fun with Annihilus and Agatha Harkness. Fans of Steve's singing (We're not sure you actually exist) will be pleased to know that this is the episode to feature his version of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme.
*Janus returns. This knowledge haunts us all.
A plot line that had technically be running through the last few issues finally came to the fore in Fantastic Four #111 - The Think -- Amok!. With Ben Grimm turned against the Fantastic Four - and humanity itself - the remaining team members scramble to contain his rampaging. As well as this, we had a rare solo appearance for Sue Richards, in Sub-Mariner #38, and we started our brief, erratic cover of the Kree-Skrull War with a peek at Avengers #89.
100 issues after their first battle, the Hulk returns to battle the Thing in Fantastic Four #112 - Battle of the Behemoths. As might be expected, this is a big action issue, with plenty of punching, statue destroying, and hurling of carousels. Oh, and the Thing dies at the end. Yeah, spoilers for that one.
Fantastic Four #113 - The Power of the Over-Mind was the first appearance of the super-villain Over-Mind. And if your response to that question is 'Who?' then you're not alone. It seems fairly certain that neither Stan Lee of John Buscema quite knew who or what the Over-Mind was when they created him, as it would take until the final issue in this story for the Over-Mind to present a consistent and credible threat to the team. Oh, and the Thing gets resurrected at the start. Yeah, spoilers for that one.
The Over-Mind story continued in Fantastic Four #114 - But Who Shall Stop The Over-Mind? With the population of New York turned against the Fantastic Four by the power of the Over-Mind, the team must scramble to return to the Baxter Building, and to discover more about their foe, a task made harder by the Over-Mind's ability to remove memories of his existence from them. We also checked in with the Kree-Skrull War in Avengers #92, where the team make appearances in court to defend Captain Marvel.
June kicked off with a new writer for the Fantastic Four, as Archie Goodwin arrived for a short run on the book. His first task was to create an origin for the Over-Mind, which became the focus of Fantastic Four #115 - The Secret Of The Eternals. To delve into this, we invited W. Blaine Dowler of the Unofficial 75 Greatest Marvels Podcast to come on the show. Sorry about that Blaine - we should have found a better issue for you! Also, the Eternals in this issue have nothing to do with the Jack Kirby Eternals from later in the 1970s, just to be clear.
Doctor Doom - in charge of the Fantastic Four? That can only mean one thing - it's Fantastic Four #116 - The Alien... The Ally... The Armageddon! In an oversized issue, the Over-Mind finally presents a credible threat to the team, and only the assistance of Doctor Doom can save them. We also took some time with Avengers #93, another oversized issue, which guest-starred the Skrull cows from way back in Fantastic Four #2.
The short-lived flirtation of oversized issues left a feature-length story to be spread across two issues, which is probably why Fantastic Four #117 - The Flame And The Quest felt so unsatisfying as an issue. It sort-of-but-not-really brought Crystal back to the Fantastic Four, and committed one of the cardinal sins of any Marvel comic - it featured Diablo as the villain. We also had a detailed look at Sub-Mariner #44, and a far briefer look at Avengers #94.
June closed out with our coverage of Fantastic Four #118 - Thunder In The Ruins. This was Archie Goodwin's final issue, and although the conclusion to the Diablo/Crystal story was about as good as you might expect, the final five pages of this story turned out to be something rather different. The Thing and Lockjaw briefly visited an alternate universe - Earth A - where Reed Richards had been the one to be turned into the Thing by the cosmic rays.
We'll be back to take a look at July-September tomorrow, as we revisit our first dealings with Marvel Two-In-One, the Roger Corman Fantastic Four movie, the Josh Trank (and others) Fantastic Four movie, and a whole heap of fan-splaining!