When you mention the Fantastic Foursome, every one smiles, developing that look of respect and total fandom in their eyes.
Reduce that number by one, and you are met with embarrassed expressions, eyes averting as the once-lamented Comics’ Code goes flying out of the window, narrowly missing the spectre of Dr Fredric Wertham.
Thankfully, John Byrne called his new title ‘Trio’, rather than any of the more salacious options to hand.
Now, love him or hate him, (and I find it difficult to do the latter), Mr Byrne has a very distinctive style; with which he has contributed a great deal to the history of comics. His revamp of Superman after the Crisis On Infinite Earths met with critical acclaim and set the tone for the following two decades for the Man Of Steel. His treatment of Wonder Woman was far more controversial, yet he had the courage to tackle the pesky continuity issues that bedevilled the character after successive revamps of the DC Universe, and with one (well, maybe a dozen) sweep of the pen, managed to make everything count.
No mean feat in a world that shifts reality in response to fashion.
In Trio, released last week, we seen John Byrne’s beautiful art and a standard set up issue. I have to say, although there was nothing wrong with the issue at all, there was very little so far to distinguish it from a Fantastic Four rip-off, but I am hoping that that is the point. Lots of plots were hinted at though not really set into motion.
If you like Mr Byrne’s style, and like me felt that the recent Next Men lost a little something from the immense gap between this series and the last, then you will love this. If not, then pass this by for the time being. After all, if the series has a fantastic twist on it, there is always the trade paperback.
Now to the proper news.
One month today, we are told that we will see the first gay marriage in comics, in the pages of the Astonishing X-Men. Now, aside from the fact that Marvel seem to be jumping on the President’s (or more correctly the Vice-President’s) coat tails, who really gives the couple a chance?
Now don’t take this wrong. As welcome as this gesture is, a part of me feels it is too little, too late. I mean, just how many years did it take Northstar to come out? Twenty?
And he started his career as a terrorist? Just wait until the Concerned Mothers of America or their modern-day equivalent get a hold of that one.
And in comics’ terms? Kyle has already been transformed into a brainwashed Plodex hybrid and tried to kill his lover and all of Alpha Flight. Is he really ready for the big leagues? Plus what if there is a super-villain attack on the big day? Will he cope?
Even worse, what if there isn’t? Would that be considered a snub by the super-human crime community? Or the diverse range of mutant political factions (who have sort of died a death recently anyway)?
In the real world however, to me this feels cheap. If this had happened a year or more ago, considering that Canada was the fourth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage back in 2005, yes, seven years ago, and both Jean-Paul and Kyle are Canadian citizens; then that would have been groundbreaking.
As it stands, really? This deserves a headline? Don’t make me laugh.