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Fantastic Four

Wastelanders: Doom podcast

This is the fifth season in the Wastelanders podcast series about an apocalyptic world set in the Marvel universe. After four seasons about various aging and displaced heroes, this season follows Doctor Doom.

“After thirty years of imprisonment, Doctor Doom has freed himself and seeks revenge on the former allies who betrayed him on The Day The Villains Won. To achieve this, he teams up with Valeria Richards, the daughter of his most hated enemy, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four – but whose side is she really on?” *Some spoilers ahead*

A Super Hero Walks Into a Bar

Finally, the podcasts are starting to come together with an introduction that directly links this one to the first Wastelanders podcast about Star-Lord! We meet Valeria, who has the tools left from the F4 team and begins to work with Johnny, a former barkeep and hired gun. We also get a character from that first podcast that seemed to make a drastic turn toward evil in the last episode (their motives are very suspect).

A Fantastic Four

We are given some backstory to Doom and Valeria’s relationship- he is actually her Godfather, as he helped deliver her years ago. For 30 years he has been bidding his time and learning new skills as he was held captive and plotting his revenge.

Mask-less

The villain Klaw recounts what happened to the F4 family, and it was heartbreaking. We find out what Valeria’s powers are and how they prevented her from dying and why she still looks so young. We get yet another reference to the Wastlelanders series- in regards to Wolverine and Red Skull.

Destructive Interference

We discover the petulant Doom is stronger than he has been acting, and he has an evil plan (of course). But he could be an anti-hero as he seems to care about Valeria despite his bluster.

Truth Serum

Valeria takes Doom, Cora and Johnny back to her secret compound to regroup. She shows off her F4 and other hero gadgets she has been collecting, which should help them with their adventures. She is not sure of Doom’s plans, so she slips him a truth serum and gets him to admit that he is looking for the Cosmic Cube.

Thunder Sandstorm

The motley crew heads to the entrance to the Negative Zone and meets some other unlikely villains- Sandman and Kingpin. The Cosmic Cube seems to be a hot commodity.

King of the Negative Zone

This crew enters the topsy-turvy Negative Zone and discovers that Kingpin has found the Cosmic Cube himself. There is a battle of wits between everyone and suddenly the Shadow King (who had been the one who orchestrated the massacre at Professor X’s Mutant Academy due to how he manipulated Wolverine) appears and there is more mayhem and double-crossing.

Tee Off

Doctor Doom is held prisoner at Kingpen’s compound and learns that there are cracks in his empire. Not surprisingly he bests Kingpin and Shadow King and heads out to the neighboring Hulkland. In the meantime, Valeria and Johnny bond and have a brief romantic moment before they head to Hulkland too.

Getting Angry

Doom confronts various Hulks, including the She-Hulk, Amadeus and Bruce. Are there double crosses? You betcha! There is a sad death and Cora the Recorder realigns her allegiances. While there have been references to Wolverine and Star-Lord, no mention or tie-in yet with Hawkeye or Black Widow.

I Am a God

Yet another battle of the wits between Doom and Hulk, with each of them utilizing the Cosmic Cube’s powers. Cora the Recorder continues to be a problem, and Valeria shows up at the end for a confrontation between her and Doom. Her motives are a bit suspect, as she is still straddling the line between hero and anti-hero.

And then *finally* we get confirmation that the next season will tie in all the heroes from the previous Wastelanders podcasts: Star-Lord, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Wolverine!! I’m still a bit salty about how long it has taken for these seasons to tie in together. They should have added more links to one another and given previews at the end of each season regarding the next one. Maybe the producers read my previous blog posts and took heed 😉 I now forward to the next (and what I assume will be the concluding) season of Wastelanders.

Written by Mark Waid & James King and directed by Jade King Carroll

Voice Cast:

Dylan Baker as Doctor Doom

Rebecca Naomi Jones as Valeria Richards

Nadine Malouf as Cora

Danny Burstein as Hulk

Keith David as Kingpin

John Hawkes as Klaw

Kristen Johnston as She-Hulk

Elijah Jones as Johnny

Hamish Linklater as Sandman

Series Artwork by Steve McNiven (who illustrated the original Old Man Logan)

Marvels

Happy New Year! 2020 proved to be a trash year, so I am hoping that this new year will be as marvelous as this graphic novel is!

After enjoying two podcasts about Wolverine last year, I heard Marvel had put one out about The Fantastic Four without realizing it was based partly on this graphic novel. I enjoyed the Marvels podcast and picked up this source material to accompany it. I was in a bit of a reading slump at the time, so after skimming it and seeing it was worth a deeper read, I put it aside to read after the holidays. 

This amazing story gives the perspective of everyday people living in a world populated with superheroes, villains and mutants. We see the world through their eyes as they try to make sense of the incredible things happening around them. Begining in 1939, we first meet Phil Sheldon a young photojournalist and his friend Jonah Jameson who are amazed when superheroes begin to appear in New York City. The populace is at first scared and then in awe of these costumed avengers and soon admire them as they help fight for American freedom in World War II. But as the decades go by, in a 35-year span, perception of them waxes and wanes. The Fantastic Four are beloved for awhile but later pilloried. Later, the poor mutants get the brunt of the public’s hate. 

Divided into four chapters, the narrative moves forward chronologically with Sheldon marrying and having two daughters as he follows and photographs the heroes, that he calls the Marvels, both for his career and for a book he is planning about them. He is an everyman, who at times succumbs to mob mentality but as the years go by he thinks critically about what having heroes in his world means, despite losing an eye when he gets too close to a fight between Namor and the Torch. There is a poignant scene set in the 60s where Sheldon recounts seeing a mob react during a Sentinals attack, and a riot breaks out. Sheldon comments: “The real story was the people who’d been scared too long…who’d been wound too tight and cut loose”. This has uncomfortable parallels to today, 25+ years after this graphic novel came out, as a certain populace seems to be glorying in a changed America and violence is a daily worry during this contested election. 

Alex Ross’s work is a marvel! He did for the Marvel universe what he would do again later in  DC’s Kingdom Come– he made all the heroes fleshed out and real. His trademark painted photo-realism style is exquisite, as each panel is a work of art. The research he did was evident, showing the heroes in their original costumes from the Golden and Silver eras of comics. He also is great at recreating period pieces, as the narrative takes place from 1939-1974 and he gets the clothing styles and the inevitable aging of the characters spot-on. 

To further strengthen this unique story, author Kurt Busiek shares his thoughts about creating this tale. He plumbs the Marvel comic universe for a timeline on how the heroes developed, and they are worked into the story. Thus, the book becomes an encyclopedia of sorts as heroes and villains move in and out of the narrative in cameos as Sheldon, his family and regular people are the true main characters in this story. In addition, Marvel great Stan Lee adds an introduction and other artists share their insight during chapter breaks. The story is then bookended with comic sources for all the hero references and Ross shares his artistic process. While the podcast based on this graphic novel was interesting, it centered on the second and third chapters only, and this entire book fleshes out the story more thoroughly.  Although only one day into 2021, I’m guessing this book will be a contender for my Best Reads at the end of the year!

-Nancy

Marvels podcast

“Based on the graphic novel by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross Marvels takes place in the aftermath of the Fantastic Four’s battle with Galactus, high above New York City, for the fate of the world. One intrepid photographer, an ambitious college student, and a cynical journalist embark on an investigation to confirm or debunk one of the most super-powered conspiracy theories of all time”

I was a big fan of the Wolverine podcasts, The Long Night and The Lost Trail, so I aimed to listen to another podcast, this time about the Fantastic Four (although I’m not a fan of them, esp Reed). This podcast gives the perspective of everyday people living in a world populated with superheroes, villains and mutants. We see the world through their eyes as they try to make sense of the incredible things happening around them. *Some spoilers ahead*

Galactus Cometh

Set in NYC in the 60s, reporters Phil Sheldon and Ben Urich witness the villain Galactus fight the Fantastic Four which brings down ruin and chaos on the city. Each chapter opens with snippets of radio broadcasts that are an effective way to convey background knowledge. 

Retribution

Although the battle could be the story of the century, photographer Phil rushes back home to be with his wife and daughters, feeling his priority is with them in what could be their last hours. Although Galactus is later defeated, he doesn’t regret his choice although it hurts him professionally.

Truth & Consequences

Ben tries to help an elderly woman to safety amidst the rubble of the city when Galactus suddenly disappears. Did the Fantastic Four defeat him? Was it an illusion? Jonah Jameson, the editor of the Daily Bugle newspaper, believes it was all a hoax and public opinion seems to agree. Ben and Phil want the truth, for the clues don’t add up. 

Monsters

Phil and Ben along with Marcia Hardesty, a budding college journalist, interview Ben Grimm aka The Thing, about the day of the invasion. He seems to be toeing the party line in what he shares, but an overheard conversation that he later has with his girlfriend Alicia seems to poke some holes in the hoax theory.  Aside- it was cool earlier in the podcast to hear Grimm’s trademark “It’s clobbering time!” during audio of the fight overhead in NYC. 

Warheads

Marcia recounts the protest against mutants (X-Men) she attended on her campus led by Senator Byrd that devolved into anarchy right as Galcutus invaded Earth. Anti-mutant sentiment is high, and she counsels a good friend of hers, Gary, not to reveal his fire-making abilities. But he wishes to stand with his fellow mutants and tragedy befalls him as the crowd erupts in violence. That the protestors wanted to send mutants to serve in the Vietnam War as “warheads”- weaponizing their powers for evil and avoiding the draft themselves was heartbreaking. 

Interference

The trio of journalists, Phil, Ben and Marcia (plus Peter Parker tags along) separately interview Sue Richards and her brother Johnny the Human Torch about what happened between them and the fight with Galactus. They too don’t know where Reed was for some time. Sue’s statement “Genius is best left alone” could prove prophetic.

I Feel Fine

Our intrepid journalists visit high school student Charlie Martinez, a genius who is a protegee of Richard Reed. One of her experiments that manipulates reality in large ways might have been used by Reed without her authorization. She feels he would be too moral to do so, but the other three disagree. 

Limits

Phil and Ben have the opportunity to interview Dr. Richards and his arrogance reinforces my distaste for him. He has Godlike illusions about his part in the battle and seems to reinforce the hoax theory because mere humans couldn’t comprehend his true intentions. Did he use Charlie’s “ignifier” (not sure I’m spelling that right)?

The Herald

Phil, Ben and Marcia get a chance to interview the Silver Surfer, who used to be in league with Galactus and would herald his arrival on planets that were to be destroyed. But he broke with Galcutus on Earth and turned against him helping the F4 defeat him. Earthbound for now, genius Charle helps him be able to speak, as his communication wavelengths had been compromised. Aside- The Silver Surfer has been largely absent from the Marvel universe movies, except for the 2007 Fantastic Four movie sequel. I’m surprised he hasn’t been utilized in the Avenger movies. 

Eyes Open

The truth is revealed to the public by Dr. Reed at a rally held by Senator Byrd. Reed reveals he made a deal with Byrd as to prevent more anti-mutant violence and thus took the blame for the attack. While Reed came off as the good guy at the end, I still think he’s a prick. Marcia gives a heartfelt speech about her boyfriend Gary and the journalists are redeemed. Phil thoughtfully shares about how even heroes are flawed, and yet everyday people can be heroes too, or as he calls them Marvels. Make sure you stick around for the credits, for as Marvel movies do, there is a major reveal at the end, that could lead to the next story/podcast!

While not as good as the Wolverine podcasts, Marvels was very worthwhile and I already have the graphic novel that this story is based off on reserve. I liked the different perspectives of everyday citizens and how they deal with all the chaos that results from living in the Marvel universe! 

-Nancy

Voice Cast: 

Seth Barrish as Phil Sheldon                                                                                                  

Anna Sophia Robb as Marcia Hardesty                                                                                          

Cliff ‘Method Man’ Smith as Ben Urich                                                                                   

Ethan Peck as Reed Richards (he plays a young Spock on Star Trek: Discovery!!!)

Gabriella Ortega as Charlie Martinez

Jake Hart as Ben Grimm

Louisa Krause as Sue Storm Richards 

Ehad Berisha as Johnny Storm

Teo Rapp-Olson as Peter Parker 

Daniel Molina as Silver Surfer 

Karl Kenzler as Senator Byrd 

 

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