Better Than Vic Tayback

…And definitely better than that one I apparently missed in the Nineties, it’s the new Fantastic Four cartoon, and I have to say I’m impressed, even though I only saw half an episode. People always talk about the crossover effect from movies to comics, but what about the crossover from cartoons to comics? Obviously I don’t know, but at the very least it sounds like a better bet. And this one I saw seemed…what’s the word? Good. For a few reasons:

1. Humour. Wow, I couldn’t believe it. I suppose those of you living in the States have seen this already, it was the episode with the Skrulls…and fitting very well into (was it Marionette’s idea?) the explanation advanced for how the Skrulls got tricked by some clippings from “Journey Into Mystery” way back in FF #1: the Skrulls, as a race, have no imagination.

Isn’t that just the most brilliant damn retcon idea you’ve ever heard of? But of course, they’re shapeshifters who walk around in their regular forms all day, they obviously have no imagination! So how could they grasp the idea that somebody would deliberately create an unreal picture of something? Something similar goes on in this episode, as Skrull impostors of various FF hangers-on (including an awesomely bitchy older lady who’s a resident of the Baxter Building) get their impersonations completely wrong, but think they’ve got the FF hoodwinked anyway.

2. Characterization. Sure, Reed sounds a bit younger than perhaps he should, and Johnny may be a bit of a flake – but who cares? Reed is written smart, and Johnny likeable, and Sue and Ben are just about spot-on. The aforementioned bitchy neighbour is a welcome addition, and Alicia’s in there, and Willie Lumpkin too. I buy it all. It’s kind of like The Jeffersons, only with cosmic rays.

3. Cleverness. Not only is there a mystery to figure out, which Reed duly figures out, but it seems very lighthearted FF-derived stuff, playing with established storylines etc. in a way that makes them fun to revisit. As I said, you folks down south probably know if they manage to sustain this, but from where I sit it looks like a pretty nimble adaptation so far. I look forward to “The Challenge Of The Super-Skrull!”, which has been very nicely set up. Hey, they even rehabilitated H.E.R.B.I.E.!

4. Simplicity. Because as I’ve said before, the 60’s cartoon got it just about right when they said the FF exist to “defend the Earth from interplanetary eee-vil!” You need something simple to do the right kind of disbelief-suspending in this case, and “the super-team that’s also a family” just doesn’t cut it, owing to that idea being dull, dull, dull. Sure, they’ll meet the Mole Man and Dr. Doom, and that’s fine. But this is the first FF cartoon, even including the Sixties one, that I can imagine the Inhumans figuring into. Oh my God, they’re going to do the Inhumans, I just know it. Oh…my…God.

And now, what doesn’t work.

1. Maybe the big glowing “4” hovering atop the Baxter Building.


Nah, forget it, I can live with it. Just so long as it’s called “the Baxter Building”.

You know, I’ve heard people say this is no good. From what I saw of this episode, I can’t understand why. Yes, well, obviously I miss the original costumes (not to mention the old Hanna-Barbera sound effects), but I know I can’t have everything. Does this all go horribly wrong in a season or so? Do they get into Civil War or something? More importantly, do they meet the Inhumans???

If someone could let me know about that, I’d be grateful. Right now, I have pretty high hopes.

Mind you, I haven’t seen the title sequence yet.


6 responses to “Better Than Vic Tayback

  1. P.S. I have nothing against the sainted Vic Tayback. Also, this probably wouldn’t even have been a post, except that Ed wasn’t home when I called to try and tell him this was on (on YTV, Ed)…seriously, where the hell does he go? I swear it isn’t possible for anybody to spend that much time in the shower…

  2. Housesitting at the folk’s place till Thursday.
    So this is on Tuesdays too? I knew it was on Fridays, but it’s usually at a time when I’m in transit. The few glimpses I’ve seen, I really disliked the visual aspect of it, so I didn’t try harder to catch it, but if you say it’s well adapted I’ll give it another chance. After all, I’ve always been the kind of comics reader who can get past shitty art if I like the writing, so…

  3. It could be a lot better in terms of look, but Marvel cartoons have also been a lot worse. Although it’s true, Reed looks kind of stupid, and Johnny’s hair looks like it was grafted over from an episode of Dragonball Z. The costumes are inexplicably wrong, too. But the stories seem okay. I was looking at a couple fragments on YouTube, and saw the titles: not too bad, although being closely tied-in with the movie, it appears Doom is there in the spacesuits during the original event. Oh well; can’t stop tie-ins.

  4. The show was put on hiatus after only 7 episodes aired (everyone -myself included- thought it was canceled) until May or June to coincide with the release of the new FF movie.

    The 1st DVD set is on sale in March.

    Personally, I haven’t seen the show (yet), but thought I’d do a quick web-search to help you out.


  5. I actually caught a portion of the same episode that you did! Though I think I caught the last half, and you perhaps the first.

    What baffled me was how orange was now part of the FF costume colour scheme. I have no problem with them changing the look of the costume, but to suddenly throw orange into the colour scheme doesn’t work for me. What, were they trying to make Ben feel better? “See Thing, now we have orange in our costumes too! Dont feel so bad.”

  6. Thanks, SSC! Much appreciated.

    Thomas: I know! I just don’t understand that, really. Makes even less sense than the “come attack us!” big glowing 4 on the BB.

    And Ed: no, I think I saw it on Friday. I’m just posting about it now.

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