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Monday, December 11, 2006

"V" For "Very Strange"

An Oklahoma man is facing charges based on a 1923 law that prohibits wearing a mask in public. The mask was styled after the one worn by the main character in the comic book-inspired movie “V For Vendetta,” and Christopher Nichols wore it on November 7th at a polling place in Shawnee. For the record, he pleaded not guilty. He states in the story that he was simply trying to inject some humor into a warning “against government’s abuse of power.” (Quote from the December 7th edition of The Daily Oklahoman, pg. 7A) Nichols would seem to be implying that we have a government something like the opressive, authoritarian one of this work of fiction. Well, such a warning, delivered while he exercises his right to vote, certainly tickles MY funny bone.

Fantastic Four Presents: Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius Super Summer Spectacular, published by Marvel Publishing, Inc., 32 pages, $2.99

Ah, to be a kid again. To be a kid with incredible gadgets from a father who happens to be a genius scientist is even better! So it goes in Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius Super Summer Spectacular from Marvel Comics.

Chris Eliopoulos and Marc Sumerac fashion five wonderfully entertaining tales of the incredible urchin, as he finds new ways to get into mischief. All the while his robotic caretaker "H.E.R.B.I.E." attempts to restrain his near-catastrophic sense of adventure, or at least to hide all the evidence after the fact.

Whether Franklin is attempting to better his Little League game by employing kinetic amplification gel, taking the Fantasti-sub in search of a giant squid, using one of his father's inventions to switch brain patterns with H.E.R.B.I.E. or bouncing all over the city with the help of a molecular density recalibrator, there is never anything boring about the stories that come out of Eliopoulos' and Sumerac's fertile

Then, there's Chris' art. His style is simple, yet highly energetic and expressive. It seems to be those simpler styles that sometimes most astonish us with their strange ability to make the characters "come to life". His work does just that, as Franklin's wide eyes and broad smile communicate much about the innocent surprise and joy the world so often holds for a slightly ornery little boy. And, really, shouldn't every little boy be at least a bit mischievous?

Franklin Richards is recommended for all ages. It is essential, however, for those adults wishing to introduce a young son, daughter, niece, nephew, etc. to the joy that is the well-done comics story. It should be in elementary classrooms as well as doctors' waiting rooms. One thing is for sure; it's going on my spinner rack, where my kids are encouraged to "forage" for sequential fun.

Find it at comics shops as well as online retailers and auctions.

Review by Mark Allen