19
Feb 07

A God Enraged!

FT + The Brown Wedge • 591 views

Fantastic Four #225 – “The Blind God’s Tears”

Published: 1980

Creative Team: Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz

Summary: The team have found themselves in a strange crystal biosphere, somewhere in the Arctic Circle, where a race of Vikings worship Korgon, a fifteen-foot tall ‘God’. Korgon keeps the biosphere going with his radioactive crimson tears, but he has recently begun to die and wants the team to save him. Complications ensue but essentially, they do.

Analysis: A comic badly in need of coherence. The turn of the 80s were a somewhat directionless time for Marvel, with Jim Shooter still establishing his editorial reign, and the company riding out a lean time for the industry with toy and film tie-in comics and slightly desperate creations like the ‘Disco Dazzler’. (In itself, a comic about disco isn’t a bad idea. A comic which has to sell a necessarily drug and sex free version of disco to small boys probably is.)

This issue, then, shows a Marvel in transition. Hallmarks of the Shooter era are already present – his edict that “every comic is someone’s first” means that all the characters spend plenty of time recapping story points. But the overall vibe of the issue is 70s Marvel – wordy, weird, convoluted, with plot playing a poor second to trippy ideas.

In the hands of Marvel’s better writers the approach worked – at its best 70s Marvels were the strangest, funniest, most mind-expanding reads on the stands. On the other hand you might just end up with a confusing splat of half-thought-out ideas. If this issue had been my first, though, and if I’d been the right age, I might well have loved it despite its flaws – the tall, skinny, weeping Korgon is an arrestingly bizarre image, even if his story is kind of boring. (The Vikings on quad bikes on the cover might or might not have put me off.)

Doug Moench, writing, was a strange choice for the FF – his best-known stuff is Master Of Kung-Fu, Batman and Moon Knight – comics about individuals exerting their will and sense of morality on a shadowy, criminal world. The Fantastic Four operate in the brighter uplands of superhero comics, and it’s dreadfully apparent that he doesn’t have a real interest in the characters. Reed Richards is the motor of the plot, but furrowed brow aside he doesn’t do much. Ben Grimm pops up to give an “I’m a monster but” speech, Johnny Storm does exactly nothing and the Invisible Girl’s one character moment is an embarrassing outburst along “Why can’t we be normal?” lines. The only figure Moench seems to have any time for is his pet weirdo Korgon, who turns out to be a mutated Viking cursed with immortality. In his character design and descriptors – “The Blind God”, “The Mad God” – Korgon is straight out of Michael Moorcock, though if Moench planned to go anywhere with the homage it’s a mystery to me: the wrap-up to his story, courtesy of a Mighty Thor cameo, is desultory.

Pencils on this issue are by Bill Sienkiewicz, still two or three years off from the startling reinvention in his art style that made him famous. He seems a competent enough cartoonist here but it’s very hard to get much impression, as the story absolutely drowns in dialogue and exposition. Stan Lee’s 60s comics could be wordy but this is something else – every spare bit of panel seems to be taken up with waffle, so making visual storytelling completely irrelevant. Again, I’d see this as a legacy of late 60s and 70s Marvel, when the company played to its perceived college- and high-school age audience with a lot of self-consciously ‘literary’ writing, with occasional flashes of hand-me-down Stan flair.

At the end of the issue, Korgon’s status quo is reset, and we leave him still playing God to his vikings in their crystal sphere. The FF swear never to breathe a word of his existence, and judging by his total absence from the last 26 years of Marvel Comics, they were true to their word.

Help me write this feature! If there’s an issue of Fantastic Four you’d like me to cover next week, suggest it. Or just pick a number between 2 and 540!

Comments

  1. 1
    Andrew Farrell on 19 Feb 2007 #

    I was going to suggest one just outside – the “here is the key to Civil War” one, which is #542/3? I shall check, if you want.

  2. 2
    Tom on 19 Feb 2007 #

    Oh the latest one with the Foundation stuff? I think I want to write about a few more earlier ones before tackling the latest nonsense, but I will get to it.

  3. 3
    Pete on 19 Feb 2007 #

    So what does Thor do in this then? Let me guess. Is there a big fite, a misunderstanding anf then Reed calls him mate Thor on his cell, who is probably a handy bloke to have on your rolodex if you are going to fight Vikings.

    There is a whole art based item on the contortions Sue finds herself in on the covers of these comics.

  4. 4
    Tom on 19 Feb 2007 #

    No you are wrong! The fite follows the misunderstanding.

    Odin calls Thor to sort out the Vikings and then intervenes directly to calm down the Mad God. Thor just stands around after that really.

  5. 5
    Doctor Casino on 20 Feb 2007 #

    I’m going to enjoy this feature whether I know the issues in question or not (this one’s definitely outside my turf)…but I’m definitely already holding my breath for you to tackle something from the mid to late 300s, the DeFalco run, which is actually the only FF run I’ve ever followed “live,” and one of the first comics I ever got into as a wee one. Bracingly awful but kind of quaint in the context of 90s Marvel – the few attempts at relevant “edginess” all fall completely flat and everything else is just flat four-color FF superheroics and soap opera played completely straight. A bad but overlooked period I think.

  6. 6
    Tom on 20 Feb 2007 #

    I was reading that at the time too c/o a friend who had just started reading comics. PAIBOK THE POWER SKRULL. It was a very strange time. I picked this issue # at random so I will let fortune decide my next stop too, but I will definitely pay a visit to Occulus and his Inniverse at some point.

  7. 7
    mark c on 20 Feb 2007 #

    do the one where Sue turns into an evil leather clad slut and then changes her name to “invisible womang” because she then felt all empowered etc etc.

  8. 8
    Martin Skidmore on 20 Feb 2007 #

    I thought this was maybe the dullest and most forgettable run of FF ever, probably because they chose a completely unsuitable pair of creators. I’m sure I read this, but I can’t remember it at all even with your description.

  9. 9
    David R. on 22 Feb 2007 #

    YO TOM

    If you could hit up one of the Byrne issues (maybe the DOUBLE SIZED EXTRAVAGANZA #250, or #260, or the TRIPLE SIZED #236, or even #286, if you feel like tackling the Jean Grey turkey), that would be swank.

    OR something from the early Englehart / Buscema run (#304 to about #318ish) – you could talk about FASAUD (#308)!!!!!

  10. 10
    Tom on 22 Feb 2007 #

    There is NO WAY I am not talking about Fasaud at some point.

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