Fantastic Fiction: Propaganda on Fantastic Four True Story
by Paul Cornell & Horacio Domingues
When the world suddenly loses it’s love for fiction, something is obviously very wrong. But how do you go about investigating the problem? Well, if you’re the Fantastic Four you get into a fictional spacecraft that you’ve just imagined and take a wild ride into the imagination. Along the way you’ll get guidance from Dante and go into battle alongside the Dashwood sisters from Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility whilst tracking down the villain responsible.
This is the concept behind the latest comic series from Paul Cornell, writer of Wisdom and, more recently, Captain Britain & MI-13 (SF site IO9 has just posted a great interview with Paul recently – Joe). And it’s obvious right from the start that this book is an awful lot of fun both for Paul to write and for us to read. It’s an excuse to pull out every meta-fictional trick he can possibly think of and fill the pages with clever visual and literary gags. There’s too many to mention really, but I really liked the clever use of dialogue that makes this page the best gag in the comic:
The fun really starts when the FF head off into the fictional universe. The cute touches come thick and fast; The Fictocraft to explore the universe of fiction, the characters reading each others word balloons, realising they’re just part of a big fiction themselves as they see their own pages turning, jumps in time between panels being commented on and much more. It all adds up to possibly the strangest FF comic I’ve read for a long time. A certainly one of the most enjoyable. Because it’s nearer a metafictional comedic adventure than your normal superhero story and that’s fine with me.
The art is different as well for a standard Marvel comic, much more playful, in keeping with the tone of the story. Horacio Domingues’ art is just a little like the late Seth Fisher on Green Lantern, packing the page with detail, getting some lovely details on the character’s faces and fitting the mundane and the fantastic side by side very well. It’s a pity then that occasionally his own line lets him down and there are moments when it looks like he’s being inked by his 8 year old self. In thick black felt. But overall it’s good art that coasts rather on a great little story.
The one problem I had with it aside from the little niggle on the art? The big villain’s just way too obvious, especially with a very blatant bit of tease in a bookshop window on page 5. (Unless of course I’m totally wrong, in which case, my apologies to Paul). But aside from that Fantastic Four: True Story is a really nice, fun and original bit of superheroing. With this and his continuing success with Captain Britain, it’s a pleasure to have Paul Cornell around.
Richard Bruton is actually a fictional creation written by a fictional author and portrayed by an equally fictional actor; his psychotherapist has now referred him to a lecturer on postmodernism.