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Monday, December 29, 2008

This Week's Suspended Animation - Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius, published by Marvel Publishing, Inc.

Lately, Marvel Comics has been producing one of the most entertaining and endearing ongoing comics projects the industry has seen in years. “Civil War?”, you say? Nope. “Secret Invasion!” rings the response. Wrong again.

No, this is not some massive crossover, engineered to overdose readers on teeth-clenching conflict and ever-descending darkness, while simultaneously draining their wallets. Just the opposite. The continuing story of Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius is the light-hearted, all-ages account of the little boy who lives with the Fantastic Four. His heroic family often out on a mission, or otherwise engrossed, Franklin is left in the care of his robot “nanny”, H.E.R.B.I.E. Lucky for readers, one ‘bot is not enough to keep an eye on this toe-headed tyke.

Generally, Franklin’s adventures involve his tinkering with father Reed Richards’ amazing inventions. Anyone even slightly familiar with the large role said creations have played in Fantastic Four comics and/or movies can imagine the sheer wonderment a child would experience when left to his own devices in Dad’s lab. You can also imagine the hilarious hijinx that ensue when Franklin dives in.

The art and “feel” of Franklin Richards is inspired by the strip Calvin and Hobbes. And, while not on the same level, the simple pleasure of reading it is not unlike what is felt enjoying Dennis The Menace or Peanuts.

What’s more, Franklin is one of the few comic books being published (along with various Archie publications) that has the potential for crossover appeal to readers of newspaper comic strips, exclusively - Yes, they’re still out there, folks. With several short stories routinely contained within one comic book, all written so as to require zero knowledge of the character’s history, these comics are accessible to everyone. Which is EXACTLY who should be reading them, by the way.

Kudos to creators Chris Eliopoulos and Marc Sumerak. Let’s hope Marvel keeps them, and Franklin, around.
Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius is recommended.

Review by Mark Allen