First Look for January 9, 2018
As one soldier in the issue of Letter 44 I read today comments, it’s all about the hearts and minds. In my first look today, the hearts and minds can be seen in both issues as the soldiers of the Blades Brigades in Letter 44 seek to work with the local populace to end the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. While they might have superior weapons if they can win the hearts and minds of the locals the battle will be over much more quickly. That concept though, is used to the advantage of someone to deposit a surprise near their staging area and things are about to get real. In Fantastic Four #14, there is a battle for the heart and mind of Sue. She just can’t get over her infatuation with Sub-Mariner and once again that obsession causes trouble for the team. Even at the end of the battle with the Prince, Sue is still torn with her loyalties to Reed and her heart is…undecided.
Letter 44 #10
Redshift Chapter 3 by Charles Soule and Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque. Published by Oni Press, 2014.
In the asteroid belt, the crew of the Clarke battle the aliens and worry about the fate of their friends in module C. They wanted to attend to the hull breach but with so few on board they needed all personnel to defend against the alien assault, lest there be no one left to help them.
In Afghanistan, things are looking like the war will be over soon. The new weapons have made a huge difference and morale is high…that is until a sheperd searching for his goat leaves a package behind and…BOOM! A nuclear bomb goes off in the main staging area. Things do not look good anymore.
Back on the Clarke, the crew is losing the fight. Some alien device has attached itself to the ship and things are going south fast. On top of that, Gomez is having some kind of a seizure but Pritchard thinks he can get the aliens to stop the battle if they can get to Manesh in module C. He manages to convince the military folks that getting into medical should be top priority and they save Manesh and Kyoko. Pritchard has Manesh send out a message encrypted with the alien’s code so they know we’re intelligent…and the message happens to be Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal (pretty strange to have this reference in a 2014 book). We’ll see if the message has any effect, but first we go back to Earth.
11,000 soldiers were killed in the blast and no one in the administration knows who caused it. Nearly all the Blades Brigades, which they were calling the soldiers with the new weapons, were hit and things are looking bad. To top it off, the last panel show Isobel in the embrace of Congressman Higgins probably leading to the arrangement she proposed in the last issue.
Once again, there’s a quick pace and lots of things going on in this issue. I really love how the synergy between Soule and Alburquerque works to keep things moving and interesting at the same time. With so many different things going on it’s nice to see that not only can these guys keep things going on the large scale, but they also take the time to keep the character development going. This is definitely an enjoyable read.
You can find first looks at other issues in this title linked in my January Reading List.
I rate this issue a B+.
Fantastic Four #14
The Merciless Puppet Master by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Published by Marvel Comics, 1963.
Once again the Fantastic Four face off against the Sub-Mariner, and once again he’s being controlled by another of the team’s enemies. This time it’s the Puppet Master but everyone thought he was gone for good after he fell out a window. Instead of proving fatal, the fall just injured him and he’s spent the past few months recuperating at a local sanitarium. He’s out now and ready to take down the Fantastic Four by manipulating the Sub-Mariner. With Sue’s obsession with Prince Namor it’s easy to see why villains would use him to get to the team.
The Puppet Master quickly takes control of Sub-Mariner and he sends out an invitation for Sue to come visit him. Since she’s ashamed of her obsession, she hides that she’s headed underwater from the rest of the team and proceeds into the depths to be captured by Namor. Using a mental projection, Namor informs the men that he’s taken Sue prisoner and challenges them to try to save her.
The team is worried they might not return from the fight so Ben goes off and gets Alicia to join them in the trip undersea. I’m sure that’s the first thing I would think of if I was heading into a dangerous situation that I might die from – take an innocent with no super powers with me…oh yeah, and she’s also blind.
So, four of the Fantastic Five head down to rescue Sue. They get past a bunch of trials the Sub-Mariner has for them, Ben saves Sue and somehow, Alicia senses her father is controlling Namor. As the Prince blasts them with toxic fumes, Reed puts saran wrap…err, Flex-o-gen packets over their faces so they are not effected and they line up to put the beatdown on Namor. Of course Sue intervenes and insists he’s being controlled by someone though I’m once again not sure how she knows this. It turns out to be true though as a giant squid attacks the submarine the Puppet Master is in and he loses control of Namor.
It’s a pretty good issue but Sue’s gotta get over her bad boy infatuation. She just causes too much trouble with her desire for the Prince and it’s created a vulnerability in the team that needs to be resolved. At this point if I were Reed I’d have some serious doubts about a relationship with her considering she keeps putting the team in danger and running off in secret to be with Namor. In any case, the team survived this episode and I’m sure we’ve not seen the last of either Namor or the Puppet Master.
You can find first looks at other issues from Marvel published 1963 linked in my January Reading List.
I rate this issue a B.