FF #10: Paint it Black
FF stands for Future Foundation, the action and sci-fi comic brought to explosive life by Micheal Allred and Matt Fraction. The Future Foundation, or FF, are a back-up to the Fantastic Four. Their job is to safeguard the students recruited by the Foundation, and protect the assets of the Fantastic Four, including it’s reputation. The comic book has a great sense of humor throughout, and some interesting themes including conservation of endangered wildlife, and youth manipulation.
FF has some incredible art overall, and some of the best art on display in FF #10 are the perfectly aligned, square panel sequences depicting the students of the Future Foundation. Moving from second to second, the panels capture a sense of time passing, and character body language. Characters shift the way they stand, and each panel gives a clear idea of their subtle movement. These sequential scenes see the students on the roof of the Fantastic Four‘s base, the Baxter Building, and playing a guessing game with an evil genius.
Facial expressions morph constantly: skeptical, outraged, disappointed, confused, shocked – there is a range of clever emotion worked into the each character.
Colours are bright and dark, matched to each scene: whether it’s a futuristic prison in the sky, or the green and aqua blue of the micro universe. Contrasting with the colour palette of the micro universe is the scarlet of both the FF‘s uniforms, and FF team member Medusa’s lustrous red hair.
Despite downplaying their role in the comic book, Marvel comics employees, and Future Foundation creative team, Matt Fraction, Michael Allred, and Tom Brevort appear in the comic book playing themselves. They are the stand-out characters for their humour.
The working relationship between an author, writer, and editor can be fraught with stress. Under a crisis situation, the facets of this relationship is played for laughs – Fraction and Allred hide behind their editor when in danger of being attacked by a giant tiger.
The whole point of inviting a Marvel comics creative team on a FF mission is to have them write an entertaining comic that will improve the team’s flagging publicity. Scott Lang – The Ant-man – effectively leads them through the crisis.
The cast have to cope with an onslaught of strange concepts – the Fantastic Four character Johnny Storm appears, albeit as an older, cynical man from a distant future. This Old Johnny Storm accuses Alex Power , a Future Foundation student, of colluding with Doctor Doom (The FF and Fantastic Four‘s key villain). He’s not wrong, but the accusation creates a snowball effect, leading Alex and several other students to start a guessing game with another evil genius named Maximus the Mad, mentioned earlier in this review, in their search for a way to stop Doctor Doom.
It’s a parade of weird and strange, but the humor and light science fiction work well together.
Themes, Ethics, Values.
A tiger, taken from it’s enclosure in a New York Zoo by Artie and Leech, two more FF students, wrecks havoc on Scott Lang’s expedition with the Marvel Creative team.
Artie and Leech use Hank Pym’s shrinking particles to shrink the Tiger to cat-like size and smuggle it into a backpack. Despite the humor abounding around this crisis, their is a brief comment about conservation here.
Neil Gunn, a blogger for the World Wildlife Foundation, comments that a Bengal Tiger he observed at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, UK, looked pretty darn miserable. He goes on to argue that their is value in showing kids real, wild animals in a zoo setting – it can inspire a desire to save animals from extinction. The Future Foundation are doing alright as custodians of the Fantastic Four‘s class, since they are taking them to see the tiger.
Artie and Leech are even a little bit like activists as they free the tiger from it’s enclosure.
This set of values, however, raises a question important to conservation of endangered animals: is it appropriate to use exciting and dangerous exhibits to bring about positive interest in a cause or organisation? That’s what the FF are planning – they apparently have a PR problem, and the Marvel Comics team are going to publish a comic to solve that problem. But there is a real danger to the tiger – it is mistreated by the students – and to the heroes and creative team – the tiger attacks them.
The comic raises these questions, alongside other topics such as manipulation of the young: that evil genius mentioned earlier? He is imprisoned, and plays a game of 20 questions with Alex Power and other students to win his freedom. Maximus knows that he can trick the children with a game.
A bit more on FF #10.
Just a minor observation – other Marvel comics starring young super heroes (Young Avengers) have had repetitive use of pancakes almost to the point of adoration. It’s refreshing to see the breakfast food taken down a notch after Old Johnny Storm throws pancakes on the FF kitchen floor in a blind rage. This comics sense of humour is strong, and it’s combined with top-class art, surprising depth of character, and good science fiction.