Sunday, 7 February 2010

Fantasical exploration of Subterranea

From the pages of Fantastic Four no.575 comes a tale of grand adventure, coming to the aid of an old adversary, The Mole Man, the Fan 4 board their vessel for a dive into the mysterious depths of the underworld. According to The Mole Man, rogue scientist The High Evolutionary was experimenting away in a hidden city, pushing the boundaries of evolutionary science.

During an attempt to raise the city to the surface, the Ascension Engine that was feeding power to it began to devolve the city's inhabitants rather than bring about the change that The High Evolutionary was hoping for through a rapid process of evolution. The city was then abandoned until some simple Moloid creatures happened upon it. As their inquisitive nature drew them within its walls, they were changed by the effects of the Ascension Engine, with heightened intelligence they realised that any newborn Moloids retained the old skin of their pre-evolved selves, and so they ceased reproduction, preferring instead to swell the city's population by absorbing Moloids from the surrounding underworld.

So, losing his followers and sensing a loss of power within his subterranean kingdom, The Mole Man has come to his old enemies, The Fantastic Four, for help. The pencil work of Dale Eaglesham, and at times the almost psychedelic colours of Paul Mounts bring to life the bizarre landscapes and monsters of this subterranean adventure.

In one panel we see the Fan Four's ship flying through a vast cave where strange tubular growths and huge blue stalagmites grow up from the shadowy floor. Observing the craft's passing are a small group of Moloids, hunkered down around a campfire. This huddled group reminded me of the classic films of the wild West, cowboys gathered about the dancing flames eating bean stew. In this picture the horse is replaced with a giant ant, and as you can see here the bean stew has been replaced by a pan of colourful mushrooms.

For rock music reference the technicolour landscapes bring to mind the other worldly art of Roger Dean, most popularly known for his work on the albums of 70s super- group, Yes. And for this comic book's soundtrack, the cosmic soundscapes of Tangerine Dream fit the bill perfectly.

Moog pilots extraordinaire, flying the the shifting sonic moods of early electronica. Remember those days of experimental rock when the track length was such that it took up one whole side of an LP? My choice here would be the Milky Way busting 'Phaedra', unashamedly leading the record needle into the rumbling black void, having eaten up a healthy 16 minutes and 45 seconds of in flight entertainment.

Following a recent celebrated story arc from the hand of Jonathon Hickman, I am placing myself front and centre with the imaginauts, putting myself in the trusted hands of the current creative team. I'm only a newbie to the Fantastic Four, but it looks as if I have joined the ride just at the right time. Does the Fantastic Four have a rallying cry?

1 comment:

Dom said...

you're right, that splash is totally prog rock! Good spot. I love the panel where Mole Man turns up in the Baxter building. It was a very strong issue.

No rallying cry for all four. But "it's clobberin' time!" and "Flame on!" are still two of the greatest catchphrases in comics.