If you read my last entry you might recall me ending with the promise of frozen ducks and a Bob Newhart bowl. Well, that's not what you're getting. I highly suggest you go back and read that with some appropriately dramatic music to make it feel more like a true cliffhanger. Will you ever learn the reason for the frozen duckies? Eh, probably. But first, allow me to indulge in some low grade licensed superhero literature from the mid-nineties.
I nabbed this off ebay earlier this year for a project that may or may not ever happen. Still; I ain't one to let things go to waste so I barreled through it. At the very least I could mark it as my first ever licensed superhero novel. Frankly I'm surprised I never tried one earlier as I remember a good six-month period when I was a kid where I'd stare down this paperback copy of “The Venom Factor” (a spider-man novel) that sat in the magazine section of a now defunct grocery store. If I'd taken more time, I probably would've hunted that down in place of this but it was January and we all know how cabin fever makes you do strange things.
So how is it really? Honestly? Not bad, really. I mean it's nothing that's likely to stick with me but I've read significantly worse in my life. The main problem is that the story isn't anything different then what you could get in a small story arc from the actual comics. In short; Namor is poisoned, loses his kingdom, the Fantastic four (who oddly enough don't appear until like page 60) find, cure him, and go with him to reclaim Atlantis and stop Dr. Doom from destroying the world (natch). If you were the kind of person who knew nothing about the FF than I suppose this could make an ok introduction but even with some fluffy side plots involving The United Nations and The Human Torch having a crap time during a fashion shoot (really) there's just not a whole lot here.
Thankfully the author, a woman whom I'd never heard of before picking this up, is decent enough to keep things moving at a fast clip with some generally good descriptions. I say generally because she will sometimes lapse into some very strange stuff, like the following bit comparing Sue Storm to a Manatee. Not making that up, just look!
You can also tell from that page that the book can get just a tad melodramatic. If you need any further proof just look at this part with Dr. Doom.
It's a crime that Doom isn't in this very much as all his bits are downright adorable. The guy is in full-on Saturday morning cartoon mood every time he pops up. Even better is how he thinks! Check it out.
From now on I'm going to make a point of attaching negative adjectives to everyone around me. Oh it's that insufferable mailman again. These over the top thought patterns are made all the more off-putting by the big reveal that this is actually a doombot and not the real deal. So are we getting Dooms' actual thoughts channeled through the bot or do all of his robots think and act like they just graduated from evil doctor community college?
I suppose the publisher didn't feel it would be appropriate to release a marvel paperback without an illustration or two so we get these at the start of every chapter. They're not bad, but they don't really add anything to the experience. For any marvel nuts getting excited about the above image, just calm down. Fin-Fang Foom does not make a cameo. That is just a cheap lookalike. Actually it's some kind of dragon that could destroy the world, though I don't believe that since it can't even take down the thing, Namor and the aforementioned doombot. What's odd is that the FF leave control of that beast in Namor's hands even though he lost control of his entire kingdom just a few weeks earlier! I'd be asking permission to chuck the keys to that cell into the negative zone ASAP.
Overall I'd say this was a fun item but it's only real worth these days would be to complete some FF fans collection. Maybe now I can get back to those ducks.