[identity profile] thanekos.insanejournal.com posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Jonathan Hickman's Interdimensional House of Richards' made me remember Steve Englehart's Big Town, a 4-issue 2001 series set a nebulous ten years after the coming of the Fantastic Four, which asks a question:

" What if Reed Richards Wasn't Useless? How would the world change? And who wouldn't like it? "

(may not like the amount of scans under cut, just a note...)

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(from issue 01, the only bit of it you'll say; the rest of it is so kinda interesting, I can't decide which to scan)

That, ladies and gentlemen.

New York, ten years after Reed went forward in back to the moon, is now a place where Tony Stark prosthetics are common, mechanical Hulk/Namor restraining capture bubbles line the grass of Hero Park, totally boss cellphones exist, and Reed Richards's Regeneratron can save people from massive head trauma.

It's a Big Town, though not as Big as I'd like.

Give it some more time, and we may just hit a little Big Planet. (sadly, there's not as much supertech as i'd've liked, so i'll mostly be showing the plots against Reed's utopia.)

However, there're some obstacles on that path:

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Doom's got a world domination thing going on, sending his legions (headed by a mindcontrolled Silver Surfer) over to Reed's Shiny Fewcha to break it so that he can be the one to fix it all and be the man who fixed the world.

Or something like that, anyway- he's Doom, after all.

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together, those three plus Magneto and the Red Skull... will bring down Reed's new world. And build their own from the ashes. Probably gonna be a lot of backstabbing in the process.

(Not really sure why the Hulk's there- guess he was bored.)

on the streets, Thor and the Black Panther have a discussion.

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oh, Thor. You so Thor.

(guess who's running those Odin cultists.)

when suddenly:

(Frankie Juarez is a man who believes that all this progress is too much, too soon.. so much so, that he'll help supervillains bring the fewcha down.)

oh, Doom. You so transparent.

oh, Frankie/Magneto. You so not conversant in basic computing.

(give Ultron time, and he'd eventually hit Ultron-487, I'm sure.)

" I'm gonna lock you in your basement, bitch. SO HARD. "

oh, Red Skull. You so conversant in smacktalk.

anyhow, before we move on to the third part and Ultron successfully haxing the city, Sub-Mariner and Sue contending while Ultron does things:

oh, Namor. You so dramatic.

right, right, on to part 3 now.

the Knights of Doom and the mindwhammied Silver Surfer have come down to strike... but Mockingbird of the Avengers has a plan:

(hilariously, in issue 01, Clint and Bobbi had a YOU KILLED SOMEONE WHAT THE FUCK moment regarding one of the Knights of Doom. Some things never change.)

meanwhile, Namor has even more talkings with Sue, explaining why he's thrown in on this:

oh, Hulk.

also, jeez, Namor. You're Atlantean, I don't think they'll be trying to shove anything down your throat. Besides, it could only help your tourism.

elsewhere, Ultron confirms his hax while Johnny and his soon-to-be-wife Sally Juarez (Frankie's brother, and an original character) visit a clouted-by-Namor T'challa in the hospital:

when suddenly, those Odin cultists appear, as part of the attack Big Town plan, after Johnny's stepped out of the room to think about things related to stuff I'm not covering:

Doctor Blake, to be precise.

Doctor Donald Blake.

Which means, a few pages later?

Odin, Zeus, and Jove? Now that must've been a fight.

hoshit, dust of death.

Red Skull escapes, and Johnny can't follow, because:

Ice science? Heh, they figured it out, Skull..

but at the last pace:

Your science, Thor? Really?

But he's safe.

However, these attacks have been little more than a distraction for Doom's master plan, in the concluding issue (which is about 39 pages, if I'm reading it right, so 13 here):

Let's see it come down:

oh, Hulk.

that's Frankie and his dad, who the former did it for... look, there's some things I didn't cover. think of it as incentive to look it up, rather than me wanting to get to the cool stuff.

also, lol at some of Magneto's Brotherhood in this world.

Hey, when Charles Xavier's helping to run the X-Squad (artificial supercops numbering Flash Thompson and Speedball among them), I guess routes of destiny change....

Looks a bit cooler at night...

well, Doom, rather straightforward of you.

suddenly, Ultron attacks the two, projecting a hard-light copy of himself into the room:


Yeah, Ultron.

along with the Skull's cultists and Namor and co.

and now, a fight begins for Big Town.

(that's the X-Force in the uniforms, plus the rather familiar looking street gang known as the Mutts. Ah, fate.)


anyhow, more superheroes fight, and I wish I could scan it all... but I've gotta wrap it up. So let's end on Reed finally breaking the Surfer free of Doom's control:

the Surfer dealing with Doom:

and an end, after all the plots I didn't get to post resolve themselves somewhat open-endedly (once again, pick it up if you want to know those things):

a rather nice read, all things considered: wish there was more awesome science, but perhaps the continuing stories englehart wanted to do might've covered that.

ah, what if.

Date: 2009-09-26 05:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jaybee3.insanejournal.com
I actually love here Sue calling out Namor on his on-going stalker behavior (depending on the writer sometimes we're supposed to be she likes it). Also The Thing taking the fight to the X-Men and Reed and Tony being portrayed as competent an And not like fascists *cough*Civil War* cough.And Thor when he's being written as the God he should be, obtuse as that may be.

Date: 2009-09-26 06:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rab62.insanejournal.com
Don Blake trying to tell the faux Odinists about the real Odin he knows is one of my favorite things ever. Also, Thor giving said Odinists what has to be the ultimate putdown (on a page you didn't reprint, so I won't spoil it here).

As Englehart will readily tell you, this series was badly wounded by clumsy editing and rewriting by other hands…but enough of his original intent shines through in moments like these that the story is well worth reading. (If I'm not totally mistaken, he hoped this would be an alternate continuity used by other creators as well...as later happened with the Ultimate universe and Zombie Earth.) The crosstime House of Richards thing reminded me of this too, so I'm extra glad to see someone plugging it here.

Date: 2009-09-26 07:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arbre_rieur.insanejournal.com
Englehart's specific words:

"An almost total disaster.

"Conceived as a gift to Marvel - a new franchise with unlimited possibility - it ended up edited by people who couldn't understand it (and it ain't that hard). It was approved as six issues, plotted as six issues, and then cut to four. The first issue was printed with pages out of order and characters dumbed down. The title was changed to FANTASTIC FOUR: BIG TOWN, even though it featured all the major groups. And then #4 had non-sequiturs edited in for no reason anyone's ever been able to explain. (My favorite is a caption, "The very core of the earth," as the Silver Surfer soars into New York.)

"Nice covers, though."

Date: 2009-09-26 02:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icon_uk.insanejournal.com
Yeah... that's... beyond pretty bad and into the realms of terminal facepalm

Date: 2009-09-26 06:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cmdr_zoom.insanejournal.com
"... but mine is the POWER COSMIC!"

You tell 'im, Radd.

Date: 2009-09-26 03:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arilou_skiff.insanejournal.com
There is no sentence that cannot be made better by the addition of "...But mine is the Power Cosmic!"

Date: 2009-09-26 06:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sinisterlink.insanejournal.com
Wow, there is just so much crack in this. Love it. Especially Magneto and Red Skull working together (which I can't really see them EVER doing). I love them going back and forth.

Magneto: Nazi
Red Skull: Gypsy
Magneto: Madman
Red Skull: Scum
Magneto: WHORE
Red Skull: SLUT

I also like all the stuff with Sue and Namor showing how frikkin crazy he is. I mean, I love Namor, but he is a pretty crazy stalker guy when it comes to Sue. It cracks me up that Sue actually calls him a stalker and he is basically just like, "I KNOW I AM. WE SHOULD TOTALLY GET MARRIED." and then Sue is out right saying that she isn't in love with him and he's like, "But I love you and I'm an awesome Prince and you can rule together with me WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT." Craaaazy Namor.

Loved the airbag arrow that Hawkeye had. I looked at the image before I read the dialouge and thought that he had shot her with a pillow. lol.

Gotta say, "Ouch" for the Black Panther and the whole burning him to cure him thing. Love Johnny and his whole, "Panther is from Wakanda, which is a hot country, so getting SET ON FIRE shouldn't really bother him much..."

Date: 2009-09-26 07:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kamino_neko.insanejournal.com
Doom's face reflected in Surfer's is a really neat effect.

This story seems interesting...I really like Thor smacking down the racist Odinists.

Date: 2009-09-26 11:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] damar148.insanejournal.com
So the answer to if Reed Richards wasn't useless, is that the villains would unite.

Date: 2009-09-26 11:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jlbarnett.insanejournal.com
I absolutely hated this story. I stopped a couple of issues in. Reed makes the world a better place and everyone goes nuts.

I mean did they ever even say what people were really scared of besides
to much to soon"

Date: 2009-09-27 06:33 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-09-26 11:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robogeek.insanejournal.com
For this, I'd almost forgive Englehart for the Hellcat mini (Son of Satannish?)...

Minor quibble: In Marvel Zeus & Jove are the same being. But I'll mentally edit it to Ra. :)

Date: 2009-09-26 01:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
So I take it this occured during the period where marvel and the writers had retconned magneto's past to make him a gypsy rather than jewish?

Date: 2009-09-26 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icon_uk.insanejournal.com
IIRC Magneto being confirmed on page as Jewish is actually very recent. We've known for years he was in the concentration camps, but not necessarily the why as it's sort of vacillated.

Date: 2009-09-26 05:34 pm (UTC)
ext_396464: (Default)
From: [identity profile] xdoop.insanejournal.com
Well, there were more clues that he was Jewish than just him being in the concentration camps.


Date: 2009-09-27 05:15 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I thought I had read of how he was originally a jewish holocaust survivor mutant, but as time went by they worried abit about some possible negative whiplash from having such a main villain be jewish, so they later changed him to a gypsy

Date: 2009-09-26 01:18 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"And Ultron makes three, hehe"

Wow, it's like he's the meowith to that group of villains there. And I can't help but enjoy it!

Date: 2009-09-26 09:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taggerung301.insanejournal.com
heh, I can't unsee it now

so who would be Jesse, and who would be James?

Date: 2009-09-29 12:45 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thought it through, and came to Namor as James due to the more fashion sense and Hulk as Jessie due to common anger issues :)

Date: 2009-09-26 04:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mullon.insanejournal.com
I feel ike some of the villain's motivations are flawed. And I thought Loki would be behind the Odin cults.

Date: 2009-09-27 07:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] khamelea.insanejournal.com
"And I thought Loki would be behind the Odin cults."

Red Skull is a more interesting (and just as sensible) choice, I think.

I'm a bit at a lost to understand luddites working with Ultron and vice versa.

Date: 2009-09-27 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] menagerie.insanejournal.com
Fairly interesting. The art is all over the place. I really like the F4 outfits here.

Date: 2009-09-27 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] psychop_rex.insanejournal.com
Interesting stuff. It's a shame it wasn't properly exploited - I can see this as the sort of alternate continuity that could produce a lot of interesting stories.
A minor quibble, though - Red Skull is being presented as still a Nazi. Now, this may of course be the simple result of an alternate timeline, but I was under the impression that the modern-day Red Skull had in fact concluded that Nazism had too many inherently limiting flaws for a big-time supervillain like himself to stick with it. He doesn't regret his past as a Nazi - heavens, no! - and he still hangs around with people from his past, like Arnim Zola, but as best I can tell, he's moved on from Nazism to plain ol' terrorism and supervillainy. I'm sure he's still a racist, but I don't think he'd... FLAUNT it the way he does here. He's more diplomatic about it now.


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