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January 22, 2008

Comments

stephen

wow!!! i just started reading comics like three years ago and i had no idea things had gotten this bad in the dark age of comics. this is really ridiculous who actually thought this was a cool and good idea for the fantastic four? what was the logic behind the thing needing a helmet?

in sue's defense maybe she just made the rest of her tights invisible

Mark Engblom

"wow!!! i just started reading comics like three years ago and i had no idea things had gotten this bad in the dark age of comics."

Now, aren't you glad I warned you about this insidious era before you found out on your own, perhaps when looking for a particular back issue?

"who actually thought this was a cool and good idea for the fantastic four?"

Pony-tailed hipsters grasping at straws? Just a guess.

"what was the logic behind the thing needing a helmet?"

I dimly recall a storyline where the Thing got into a scuffle with Wolverine, whose claws took a big chunk out of Ben's rocky face. For some reason, Ben thought this degree of ugliness far surpassed his normal ugliness and decided to wear a concealing helmet. Or something.

"in sue's defense maybe she just made the rest of her tights invisible"

Yeah....that's gotta be it. What you don't clearly see on this cover is her "4" chest symbol, which was actually a "peek-a-boo" hole cut in the fabric, so the color of the number four was actually her ample cleavage. Classy, huh?

Siskoid

And since when is 375 an anniversary number?

Captain Average

UUGGHhh, that makes me nauseous. How could anybody in good conscience allow that to be produced. Was Dr.Doom cover editor that month?

Mark Engblom

"and since when is 375 an anniversary number?"

At some point, any number divisible by 25 became an "anniversary issue"....especially during the enhanced cover insanity, when any event...no matter how minor...was celebrated with a prismatic/gate-fold/scratch-N-smell cover.

"Was Dr.Doom cover editor that month?"

Hmmm....well, the title on the cover is "Rise of Doom", so you may be on to something.

Wes C

Yet another horrid FF cover. Wow!

This one makes the earlier one with the Wizard abducting Franklin look almost good.

You were far too kind on this issue Mark.

While the early 90's was extremely traumatic for comic fans in general, nothing was more painful for me than seeing my beloved FF put through the "Image" makeover gauntlet.

Is there another female hero in the M.U. who is less compatible with the "Image slut" look? - just awful.

The FF with guns?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Ok I had dropped out of (current) comics at this point, please tell me is that Medusa, Alicia Masters or the former She-Thing on left hand side?

I think the Thing's helmet dates back to issue #3

BTW: Did you ever see some of the horrible FF work Herb Trimpe did in the image style?

He didn't want to draw in that style, but was forced to by the higher ups

I've never been a fan of the guys work, but man o man was the new stuff awful!

I really felt bad for the guy. Another longtime pro chewed up and spit out by the need to be cool and EXTREME!

Sorry I'll stop ranting now! :)

Mark Engblom

"You were far too kind on this issue Mark."

Really? I'll have to go out back and sharpen up my knives.

"Is there another female hero in the M.U. who is less compatible with the "Image slut" look? - just awful."

Yeah, Sue's costume is a great indicator on just how lost Marvel was as a company at this point in time, when the long-time "soccer mom" of the Marvel Universe was tarted up to appeal to....well, it's not really clear who they were trying to appeal to.

I mean, other than mouth-breathing perverts.

"BTW: Did you ever see some of the horrible FF work Herb Trimpe did in the image style?"

No, but I've heard stories of his shabby treatment at the hands of Marvel during the early 90's. Granted, the guy had always had a highly unusual style that, frankly, was seldom my cup of tea....but still, his story (as well as other old pros like Curt Swan) is an enduring "black eye" on the industry.

suedenim

While cover artist Paul Ryan is competent enough, it amuses me to note that none of the characters have visible feet - a Liefeld homage?

Mark Engblom

LOL! Good point, suedenim. Yeah, Paul Ryan was definitely a competent artist...which serves as a reminder that not all "Worst Cover Ever" inductees feature lousy artwork, but sometimes represent a trend or period of time that deserves some scorn.

googum

What really stings is DeFalco and Ryan's run follows the all-too-short Walt Simonson FF, and then goes on just about forever.

Herb Trimpe did some of the Fantastic Four Unlimited issues around this time, and yeah, they're pretty punishing. He may have been forced to 'Image-ize' his work, but it also seems rather dogged out, yeah. I got a pile out of the quarter boxes, and they're mostly forgetable.

Even worse? Much as I hated, hated, hated the DeFalco issues--I didn't read FF for years, but have since picked up a lot of them out of the quarter bins as well--for re-readability it beats the hell out of the Claremont issues.

Mark Engblom

I rather enjoy many of the late 80's DeFalco issues of both Fantastic Four and Thor, especially when Ron Frenz was channeling Kirby along with the inks of classic F.F. inker Joe Sinnott. Both series did a wonderful job evoking the vibe of the original Lee-Kirby runs while still "advancing the ball" with new characters and concepts.

Obviously, things went downhill when the 1990's came around, and thankfully I haven't read any issues from that troubled time.

Brian Disco Snell

You haven't read any of the issues, but you still mock the covers? How very unsporting of you, old chap. If we had to live through the dark days, dammit, so should you.

In answer to Wes' question from above, that is indeed Sharon Ventura, the former She-Thing(?!) also known as Ms. Marvel (?!). You see what we to put up with durnig the DeFalco days??

As I continue the sisyphian task of electronically cataloguing my collection, it's really evident (and awful) when I come upon a box of 90's stuff, especially Marvel. It's not just that it was Image imitation by people blatantly unsuited to that style; it's that it was horrifically bad, period.

It should be noted that, as silly as it seems in hindsight, the Lifield/Lee/Image style was extraordinarily popular and sold very well among some big segments of fandom. At the very least, even we modern haters must conceed that, as bad as it was, when done by its masters the style had a certain dynamism, an energy. But the Marvel Image wannabes? Terrible--artists totally inadequate to the task doing Potemkin versions, all of the bells and whistles without ANY of the (admittedly shoddy but still sometimes interesting) technique. And all forced to look essentially the same. Marvel had lost all of their "good" artists and tried to force all the dregs to draw like the Imagers had.

BTW, if we tell Bendis that there was a Skrull posing as Alicia Masters 15 years ago, do you think he'll call off this Silent Invasion nonsense? Sigh...

Mark Engblom

"If we had to live through the dark days, dammit, so should you."

Hey, believe me, I slogged my way through plenty of crummy 1990's comics (mullet Superman anyone?), so I think I'm qualified to pass judgement on Ms. Naughty Stockings and her leather-jacket wearing teammates.

Nimbus

The nonsensical sight of the Human Torch wearing a leather jacket.

In that image the Human Torch looks a bit like DC's The Ray (Ray Terrill version) but without the helmet. Which makes you wonder why the Ray needed a leather jacket.

Also, it must've been confusing having six heroes on the front of a comic called the Fantastic Four. :) Stupid early '90s.

Wes C

"In answer to Wes' question from above, that is indeed Sharon Ventura, the former She-Thing(?!) also known as Ms. Marvel (?!). You see what we to put up with durnig the DeFalco days??"

Thanks for the info Brian.

I can't tell you the fear I had creep up my spine when I thought for a moment that it might be Alicia Masters all "imagized up".

While I know that would normally be an unthinkable thing to do to a long established supporting character; in the early 90's it would have been par for the course.

I stuck around for awhile after Byrne left the FF and was very disappointed. I just didn't have the heart to stick around after Simonson's excellent run ended.

looks like I dodged a bullet!

Thanks again.

jayunderscorezero

You know, I'm always one to leap in and defend '90s mainstream superhero comics. After all, this is the era that gave us Morrison on JLA and Robinson on Starman to name but two examples. But this? This just makes me want to take all that good will and optimism back. This is just an abomination.

Mark Engblom

Well, and you'll note that I did acknowledge in my opening sentence that there were some high quality exceptions to the 90's parade of incompetence.

The examples you cited are definitely two of them.

dmstarz

Heh. This cover's hilarious. I love the attempt to make the least sexy Marvel female character hot (worked with John Byrne's Malice takeover, after all). It's brilliantly bad.

Pj

You know, looking back through your Worst Cover Ever galleries, I now realize I didn't stop collecting comics for 15 years because I grew out of them. It was because they sucked.

Rob liefeld

I'm actually surprised by a few things about this cover..

One is the lack of samurai swords..
90's comic book rules dictate that every character "should carry at least four of them" two to actually wield in each hand, then another 2 just for the visual impact of having extra swords you don't really need..
& maybe a knife/knives strapped to each leg as well.

Secondly Medusa & She-Hulk are wearing too much..
The shoulder pads are good but they should have tried to coordinate with Sue & gone for the blue & white space swimsuit..

Also, not enough mid air crouching going on..

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