I begin with my traditional spoiler space picture of someone who has nothing to do with the topic at hand:

Alan Hale Sr. & Jr. (To quote Russell Johnson: "At one point, the two men looked almost exactly alike."

Issue #1 covers from the beginning of time to the birth of one James Howlett. Random thoughts:

  1. The art is tolerable, but not great. I would've put a better art team on a book like this, myself.
  2. The storyline is, essentially, Galactus and Franklin Richards sitting around at the end of time, shooting the breeze while waiting for the universe to end. Apparently, Galactus' energies will be the seed to create the next universe, which Franklin will survive into. (Is he going to become the next universe's "Galactus"? Anyway, Franklin asks Galactus to narrate the history of the universe to him, so he'll remeber it all in the next iteration of reality.
  3. The problem with this set-up is that it tends to go all over the place.  One minute they're talking about cosmic stuff, the next minute fairly mundane stuff.  Why would Galactus know or care about Sir Percy of Scandia or the Two-Gun Kid?
  4. Marvel cosmology is littered with "cosmic" characters, the vast majority or whom are not even infinitesimally interesting.
  5. The annotations at the back would be interesting, I suppose, if you were the sort of Hardcore Fanatical Completist who owns copies of every comic Marvel ever published and might therefore be liable to go look them up.

Next Time: Captain America! The Human Torch! Bucky! The Red Skull! Marvel Girl! Iron fist! Doctor Strange! Namora! Mystique?

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He must have spent a lot of time in the local library.

I haven't read History of the Marvel Universe, so the introduction of Siancong didn't first hit me as a continuity implant. I first encountered it in Kurt Busiek & Yldiray Cinar's The Marvels, used as a setting.... and to my mind, it works. 

I don't really have a dog in the fight of which Marvel hero participated in what war; I love DC minutia, but with Marvel I just like the broad strokes. So while it's fictional, one war seems as good as another to me, but your mileage may vary. But if it gives some stability to the origins of the characters -- if Reed is no longer a spy in World War II, but can be working with Army Intelligence "a few decades ago" in a different setting, well... this is the last time that setting will have to change thanks to the inevitable passage of time. We don't have to keep updating the Punisher from Vietnam to Afghanistan to whatever comes next.  We lose the visceral contact with a genuine event of the war -- whether it's the Mai Lai massacre, or the torture at Abu Ghraib -- but we would lose them down the line anyway. But if a fictional allusion is drawn to either of those events, that can continue to be a vital part of the character's background without more hairsplitting and backpedaling as time goes by. 

So I like it. But largely because I'm seeing it for the first time in action, in a story I'm enjoying, and not as a few tossed off lines in a historical overview.

Of all Marvel's veterans, Reed and Ben were the ones who least needed a retcon. It was natural to make them heroes in the Good War but it never figured into their stories other than Reed knowing Nick Fury. Even Flash Thompson's war history played a large role in his life. So it would be simpler to drop it completely now.

Speaking of which, a friend of mine had a good point about Ben—given what an amazing fighter pilot he was, he ought to have been famous just as Ben Grimm, War Hero. But again, that wasn't really relevant to the FF so it never figured in.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

I haven't read History of the Marvel Universe, so the introduction of Siancong didn't first hit me as a continuity implant. I first encountered it in Kurt Busiek & Yldiray Cinar's The Marvels, used as a setting.... and to my mind, it works. 

I don't really have a dog in the fight of which Marvel hero participated in what war; I love DC minutia, but with Marvel I just like the broad strokes. So while it's fictional, one war seems as good as another to me, but your mileage may vary. But if it gives some stability to the origins of the characters -- if Reed is no longer a spy in World War II, but can be working with Army Intelligence "a few decades ago" in a different setting, well... this is the last time that setting will have to change thanks to the inevitable passage of time. We don't have to keep updating the Punisher from Vietnam to Afghanistan to whatever comes next.  We lose the visceral contact with a genuine event of the war -- whether it's the Mai Lai massacre, or the torture at Abu Ghraib -- but we would lose them down the line anyway. But if a fictional allusion is drawn to either of those events, that can continue to be a vital part of the character's background without more hairsplitting and backpedaling as time goes by. 

So I like it. But largely because I'm seeing it for the first time in action, in a story I'm enjoying, and not as a few tossed off lines in a historical overview.

I just re-read FF #11, and in the story where the team answers fan mail, the characters' war histories are revealed for, I think, the first time. And it makes a nod toward Ben's pre-Thing fame, as Reed says, "You were the hero of every American who could read a paper, Ben!"

I agree with Rob.

I meant that it's never really shown that anyone outside the FF thought of him that way.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

I just re-read FF #11, and in the story where the team answers fan mail, the characters' war histories are revealed for, I think, the first time. And it makes a nod toward Ben's pre-Thing fame, as Reed says, "You were the hero of every American who could read a paper, Ben!"

Over in another discussion, I posted the thoughts of Mike Gold apropos the origin of Jon Sable (which was originally tied to the 1972 Olympic Games, the history of Rhodesia, etc.) in relation to the 2005 revival series Jon Sable Freelance: Bloodtrail, but I think they apply to this discussion as well. 

"I don't think we've jettisoned the continuity as much as we simply did a Fritzi Ritz. We couldn't have a 60-year-old Jon Sable; hell, the first thing DC did when we moved on from Green Arrow was to de-age the cranky bastard, and they must know what they're doing. 

"In my opinion, the all-time master of continuity was Rex Stout, author of the Nero Wolfe stories. The first one was set in the mid-thirties, the last four decades later. Each story was completely contemporary to its time and previous stories and characters were referenced when necessary, but over the series' 40-year lifespan, the characters seemed to age only a few years. When it comes to characterization, Stout was one of the absoluter best, and when we work on these revivals, I take his technique to heart." 

As far as I can tell, you're right -- though I haven't read anywhere near the entirety of FF stories. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few people here and there -- probably fellow pilots -- react to Ben as a celebrity in his own right, but it sure isn't common. 


Fraser Sherman said:

I meant that it's never really shown that anyone outside the FF thought of him that way.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

I just re-read FF #11, and in the story where the team answers fan mail, the characters' war histories are revealed for, I think, the first time. And it makes a nod toward Ben's pre-Thing fame, as Reed says, "You were the hero of every American who could read a paper, Ben!"

Thanks, Jeff. 

I guess my feeling is, the passage of time will mean there'll be cognitive dissonances either way. People who grew up reading Punisher remember his origins in Vietnam, which has now been transferred to Afghanistan, I guess. And they have to adjust. And they'll have to adjust again in 10 or 15 years. Whereas people who make the adjustment to Siancong only have to make that adjustment once. And it's not like Marvel doesn't have its share of phony countries already.

Plus, there's nothing saying a character with significant ties to the military would only serve in one war. It's possible to have our cake and eat it too.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Over in another discussion, I posted the thoughts of Mike Gold apropos the origin of Jon Sable (which was originally tied to the 1972 Olympic Games, the history of Rhodesia, etc.) in relation to the 2005 revival series Jon Sable Freelance: Bloodtrail, but I think they apply to this discussion as well. 

"I don't think we've jettisoned the continuity as much as we simply did a Fritzi Ritz. We couldn't have a 60-year-old Jon Sable; hell, the first thing DC did when we moved on from Green Arrow was to de-age the cranky bastard, and they must know what they're doing. 

"In my opinion, the all-time master of continuity was Rex Stout, author of the Nero Wolfe stories. The first one was set in the mid-thirties, the last four decades later. Each story was completely contemporary to its time and previous stories and characters were referenced when necessary, but over the series' 40-year lifespan, the characters seemed to age only a few years. When it comes to characterization, Stout was one of the absoluter best, and when we work on these revivals, I take his technique to heart." 

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