Book Reviews · Quick Reads · Six Book Challenge

Book Review: Ultimate Fantastic Four

Eleanor has read this QUICK READ as part of the Six Book Challenge.

For the Six Book Challenge, I challenged myself to read books entirely from the QUICK READS and EXPRESS FICTION sections of the Information Store. My second Six Book Challenge book is the graphic novel Ultimate Fantastic Four by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar (QUICK READS – Graphic Novels 741.5973 BEN).

fantastic fourSuperheroes are all the rage at the moment, with top comic publishers Marvel and DC getting more female writers on board and bringing a fresh perspective to classic heroes like She Hulk, Thor and even Squirrel Girl! We have lots of great superhero films to look forward to in the next few years, from Antman to Batman vs. Superman to the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron film. This year also sees a reboot of the Fantastic Four film franchise, putting one of Marvel’s earliest and most successful superhero teams onscreen with a brand new set of actors.

Marvel is a comic book publisher that publishes stories about some of the most famous superheroes in the world, including Iron Man, Spiderman and the X-Men. Their first popular superhero team was a group called the Fantastic Four, made up of Mr Fantastic, who can bend and stretch his body like elastic, the Thing, who is strong and very difficult to hurt, Invisible Girl, who, as her name suggests, can become invisible and can make force fields to protect people, and the Human Torch, who becomes covered in fire, meaning that he can fly.

Ultimate Fantastic Four tells the origins of the superhero team as they go through the disastrous experiment that gives them superpowers, so it’s a really good place to start reading Marvel comics. We see Reed Richards, the future Mr Fantastic, becoming a brilliant scientist. His loyal friend, Ben Grimm (who will become the Thing) protects him from bullies. Reed is recruited by the US army so that they can help him make the most of his intelligence – and so that his experiments will happen under their control. He meets Sue and Johnny Storm, a brother and sister duo who will later become Invisible Girl and Human Torch.

ultimate fantastic fourIt’s hardly a spoiler to say that one of Reed’s experiments goes horribly wrong, and he and his friends are teleported all over the world, their bodies changed forever. No sooner have they been reunited in Manhattan than a terrifying threat attacks the city – the Mole Man with his army of tunnelling monsters. The Fantastic Four have only just learned what their power do – can they defeat the Mole Man and protect the city?

The Fantastic Four comics began more than fifty years ago and are still going strong today, but Marvel decided to re-tell their origins story in Ultimate Fantastic Four with new artwork, updating a lot of the science the comics talk about, as technology has developed a lot since 1961. It also gives Marvel a chance to go back and talk about the childhoods of the heroes and how they ended up working together.

Whether you’re interested in comics or just like a fun and exciting story, Ultimate Fantastic Four is a great read!

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Other titles from the Marvel Universe, like The Definitive Iron Man, The Definitive Incredible Hulk and The Definitive Silver Surfer (all to be found in the BOOK ZONE 741.5973). While you might recognise Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk from the recent Marvel films like Avengers Assemble, Silver Surfer is a slightly less well-known character, but he has been an enemy and then an ally of the Fantastic Four since his first appearance in 1968. The ‘Definitive’ series of Marvel graphic novels collect together the most important comic issues for a particular hero, right from their first appearance to their famous exploits. A good introduction to those heroes!

If Marvel isn’t your thing, try something from another great comic publisher, DC, with Superman: the Man of Steel, Supergirl: Power and Batman: the Dark Knight Returns (all found in QUICK READS 741.5973). Or you can try our wide selection of short titles about Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Superman in the Adventure section of QUICK READS!

If you’re interested in how comics are made, read How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema, written by two of the most important figures in marvel history. To learn more about the rise of Marvel comics under Stan Lee, read Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book (NORFOLK HOUSE 741.5) and Dark Knights: the New Comics in Context (BOOK ZONE 741.5). Making Comics and Reinventing Comics by Scott McCloud (both in the BOOK ZONE at 741.5) are brilliant introductions to a lot of the ideas behind comics in a fun visual way (since they are comics about making comics).

six book challenge

To sign up for the Six Book Challenge, speak to staff in the Information Store or check out the blog post here.

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