Thursday, September 1, 2016

Who's The Best... Fantastic Four Substitute?




Martinex1: Over the years The Fantastic Four has not had as large a revolving door as other super-teams like the Avengers, but they have had their share of substitutes.   I have a particular fondness for the FF reserves as they are in a truly elite class.   The proxies are not the typical heroes or heroines either, as they tend to reside slightly outside the mainstream.  In your opinion, does one or the other rise above the rest?  Are any better than the originals?   So who is the best?  

Crystal the Elemental, Medusa the Inhuman,  Luke Cage; Power-Man,  Ms. Marvel the She-Thing, Ant-Man, She-Hulk or even much more recently Black Panther, Storm, or Spider-Man?   Who was the best?












30 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

For me it's a toss-up between Crystal and She-Hulk, basically because they're the two with whom I'm most familiar as members of the FF. I suppose I prefer She Hulk a little more, because a) her power-set was most like that of the member she replaced, and b) her personality just seemed to fit better with the team (also, she wasn't romantically involved with anyone in the team, either).

Anonymous said...

Agree with everything Edo said.

I actually think there is a more interesting cast of guest stars who have fought alongside the FF on more than one occasion without being members: the Surfer, Doc Doom, Frankie Raye, Agatha Harkness, Namor, the Watcher was pretty useful on at least on occasion, and wasn’t Thundra an actual member? Or did she just hang around because she had the hots for Bashful Benjy?

Also, on the subject of Spidey being a recent member (which I didn’t know) that must be longest about-face in comic book history. He first inquired about membership in (anybody? Anybody? ) …. Amazing Spider Man #1.

Richard

JalRod said...

Crystal was a seamless fit. She seemed a natural at the time. She-Hulk was just as solid a fit. So I gotta agree with Edo! But a an honorable mention shout-out to Medusa. Loved her run on the team under Englehart.

Martinex1 said...

JalRod, I have Medusa in my top two because visually she really worked. Her wild hair is much more fun to see than "invisible" dotted lines. I also think she had interesting character interaction with Reed.

She-Thing was such a misguided step. I really cannot believe they did that.

Colin Jones said...

Wolverine (only joking). Crystal then Medusa.

Doug said...

Of the subs, I most enjoy returning to the stories when Crystal was filling in for Sue. After that, I'd say upon my return to comics buying I liked the She-Hulk era. Follow that up with Medusa, who was on the team when I began buying FF books. And then I'd add that I thought for it's time the Thing exo-skeleton/Power Man arc was a nice effort on the part of the creators. Many people hate the exo-skeleton; I'd liked to have seen it last longer than it did. There was a lot of psychological territory to explore with Ben, and between Ben and Alicia, that was all ditched way too soon. Ben's relationship to Reed would have been modified as well.

And echoing the furrowed brow directed toward Sharon Ventura. Englehart's FF run was not his finest hour. Come to think of it, he was writing that at around the same time he was penning West Coast Avengers. Oh, boy...

Good subject today, Martinex!

Doug

Redartz said...

A close choice between She-Hulk and Medusa. Although at the time I was initially grieved at the absence of Ben Grimm from the FF, Jennifer Walters made a perfect replacement. As Edo noted, her abilities effectively helped fill the void from Ben's loss, and her bright personality was quite welcome.

But I also enjoyed Medusa's long stint with the team. She had a long history (both as friend and foe) with the FF, and her contributions made for some great stories. I would have liked seeing her in one of the trademark blue suits, though (during her tenure, the FF sported those differing outfits).

Doug said...

True, Redartz, on the colorful costumes. But I've always been on the side of Johnny's Original Torch homage, so enjoyed the differentiation. Naturally it had to be temporary, but it's such a great look.

Doug

Doug said...

By the way, Crystal's waist in that first panel sample... Looks like some seriously bad Photoshopping! C'mon, Jack!

Doug

Colin Jones said...

I've always wondered about that design on Crystal's hair. Is that some kind of band ? Or maybe it's a mutation. Maybe she paints it on :D

Doug said...

Colin, you would not be the only one who has wondered about that. I have no idea what it is, in spite of its omnipresence.

Similarly, why in the world does Gorgon have little goggles on his forehead? And what's more, why do the Inhumans wear masks? They're the Royal Family, for crying out loud.

Doug

spencer said...

Since I really only read the FF from about #75 - #160, I'd have to got with Medusa. Her history with the Frightful Four, then the Inhumans stuff, made her an interesting match for the spot. Crystal was alright, but I always felt like she was just there as Johnny's GF, and was never given the opportunity to show how powerful she was. It was always fun when a member had to be "replaced," especially since you always knew it wasn't permanent.

david_b said...

Agreeing with most here.., Medusa was my fav because of the first FF comics I bought, her working relationship with both Reed and Johnny was well-written. Plus I liked the different colored uniforms as well.

I didn't collect much of the FF later, 'cept for a year around 1987 with She-Hulk. I thought the team was alright, but like most I certainly missed ol Ben Grimm.

I always felt She-Hulk made a better FF member than an Avenger, the FF uniform also looked very nice on her. It's probably due to her rapport with Reed, where in the Avengers, she wasn't really defined as well.

Joseph said...

Shulky.

William said...

The FF is the one team that doesn't work that well with rotating members. So, I was never a real big fan of any of the substitutes. Mainly because the original team just works so well together. The chemistry of the FF is kind of like the Seinfeld show. The whole team is better than the sum of it's parts. And if you take away any one of them, it just doesn't work.

But if I had to pick a favorite sub I'd choose Power Man. He was only a member for 2 or 3 issues but I thought it was a really interesting idea to have him replace Ben for a stint. It was a really nice "fish out of water" kind of situation which can lead to some unexpected plot twists.

In fact, I would have loved it if John Byrne had put Luke Cage on the team instead of She-Hulk. I was not at all happy at the time when she replaced The Thing. I kept reading the title because it was still Byrne, but Ben was (and is) my favorite member of the FF and the book just wasn't the same without him. What was really upsetting is that She-Hulk stayed on the team for the rest of JB's run on the title (which was about two and half more years).

Byrne really liked She-Hulk as a character so I can see why he kept her, but I'm surprised the higher-ups didn't make him put Ben back on the team. That said, She-Hulk did eventually grow on me but I still would have much preferred if Ben had returned after 6 issues or so.

dbutler16 said...

The only four FF replacements that register with me are Medusa, Crystal, Power Man, and She-Hulk. The ones after She-Hulk never happened. Never happened.

Anyway, I'd vote for the She-Hulk. As Edo said her power-set was most like that of the member she replaced, and her personality just seemed to fit better with the team. Plus, I just liked her sense of humor. I suppose she's also like the Thing not only in powers but in adding humor and occasional hotheadedness to the team.

Anonymous said...

I kinda liked the idea of Luke Cage on the team, but as William pointed out, he didn't last too long, so I'd have to vote for Shulkie. I thought she fit well as a substitute for Ben (although their humour was a bit different).

Mike Wilson

Martinex1 said...

She-Hulk is my first choice with Medusa a very close second; I think I found both more compelling than Sue in most cases. But my third choice may surprise you....I really enjoyed Scott Lang's Ant-Man when Paul Ryan was handling the art and thought he added a nice perspective to the team.

Regarding the uniforms, I too liked Johnny in the red costume but I thought it would have been neat to add the 4 to Medusa's purple outfit... They never added the 4, did they?

pfgavigan said...

Hiya,

She-Hulk, if only for the simple purpose of demonstrating that John Byrne had a sense of humor. Remember that issue when a sleazy publisher got some topless photos of her sun bathing. Jennifer was angsting about her inability to stop their publication only to discover that the printer color corrected them to what they considered to be flesh tone.

Jennifer was so relieved . . . right up to when Johnny borrowed the issue and mentioned that he had some green sunglasses . . .

God, I love topics like this, really brings back wonderful memories.

And now for something completely different.

If you live in an area with AMC theaters and were a fan of the late Gene Wilder, check your local listings for this weekend. Willy Wonka and Blazing Saddles will be showing this Saturday and Sunday.

Might be another way of bringing back some really wonderful memories.

Seeya

pfgavigan

david_b said...

Martinex1, the '4' was on Medusa's belt buckle.., unless some artist chose to ignore it.

BobC said...

I'm going with She Hulk--she's a great character and really clicked in the FF. Same basic power set as the Thing , so there's that. Great sense of humor.

I love Medusa as a character, especially these days, but her abilities, to me, were so similar to Reed's that she really was kinda redundant.

Loved Crystal back in the day.

I thought Luke Cage was lame. Hated him in the FF.

Colin Jones said...

Nobody's mentioned H.E.R.B.I.E. from the FF cartoon.

Martinex1 said...

Ha Colin! I forgot about him but good call. Perhaps for a Who's the Worst...

Between him and Impossible Man , the FF had some annoying friends.

Anonymous said...

Hmm never was a fan of her solo adventures but to me the She-Hulk was one of the best stand-ins, with Crystal a close second.


- Mike 'imagine if Stan made a team called the Superb Six' from Trinidad & Tobago.

B Smith said...

Some speculation about that black band on Crystal's hair...

http://zak-site.com/Great-American-Novel/Crystal.html#hair

Thomas F. said...

I RECALL THE 1978 FANTASTIC FOUR ANIMATED TELEVISION SHOW, WHICH HAD A ROBOT FILLING IN FOR THE HUMAN TORCH, NAMED H.E.R.B.I.E.

H.E.R.B.I.E STOOD FOR "HUMANOID EXPERIMENTAL ROBOT, B-TYPE, INTEGRATED ELECTRONICS."

THE HUMAN TORCH CHARACTER WASN'T USED--WHY? BECAUSE AT THE TIME, THE HUMAN TORCH CHARACTER HAD BEEN OPTIONED SEPARATELY FOR USE IN A SOLO FILM (WHICH AS WE KNOW, WAS NEVER MADE).

pfgavigan said...

Hiya,

To Thomas F.

At the time there were two stories making the rounds regarding the absence of the Human Torch in the animated feature.

1.) Network executives were worried that young children seeking to emulate Johnny Storm would douse themselves with flammable liquids and strike a match. (Byrne got a story out of this scenario)

2.) The character was under contract to Universal Studios for a possible live action tv show.

Either or neither?? Who knows??

Seeya

pfgavigan

Edo Bosnar said...

PFG, actually we do know the answer to that question is pretty definitely known, and it is that the rights to use the Torch on TV were encumbered.
This actually came up in a discussion on the FF Saturday morning cartoons here at BAB a few years ago. Go about half-way down the thread - my comment has some relevant links which are now dead, though, so here is the best brief summary of the situation by Mark Evanier.

Kenn said...

She-Hulk was the best! Crystal was fun back in the day, but she was almost too powerful for the team as seen in issue #100. She-Hulk accomplished a couple of things. She was a relatively fresh face. She changed the gender balance, giving the team its first 50/50 split. Most important, I think, was that she allowed Sue and Johnny to be smart! As the newbie, she was the audience's stand-in when dealing with threats from the FF history, and any off the other members could fill her in. Sue and Johnny (and Ben) no longer had to be written as being forgetful or unaware of their own history as Reed exposited for them (and us) because Jennifer had reason not to know. We got to see Reed talk to Sue and Johnny as equals and not as schoolkids that he was repeating lessons over and over to. Byrne never treated Jennifer as dumb, however, just a bit out of her depth. The aforementioned sleaze magazine issue gave her a chance to shine as a lawyer, which is a field that none of the FFers had any expertise in. Lastly, Jennifer developed a romance with Wyatt Wingfoot, himself occasionally a stand-in on the team, which worked well for both characters and made her more a member of the family, something that didn't occur with other short-timers.

Anonymous said...

For me it is a toss-up between Medusa and Crystal. While it is true that Medusa's powers are not as great as Crystal's are, I liked her intelligence and her leadership. Personally, I felt that Marvel lost a great opportunity when Reed and Sue separated back in the 1970's. Now I am not saying that the writers should have had Sue and Reed divorce, though I would have been open to considering such a scenario. However, I do wish that Medusa and Reed had fallen in love and then we could have had a very neat love triangle. Sue could have gone to Prince Namor for a while and Medusa and Reed could have explored their relationship. It would have been super to have had the fans vote after say 18-24 months of such a scheme to decide if Reed and Sue should have divorced or reconciled. By the way, I wish you would consider doing a story on my suggestion and ask the fans for their comments re: the Reed Richards-Sue Storm separation.

As for Crystal, I loved her when she was a member of the team and I think Stan should have had Johnny and Crystal marry. However, once Crystal married Quicksilver, I turned against her and was not too impressed when she came back in the early FF 300's.

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