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Sunday, January 23, 2005

WHAT IF DR DOOM... by Kesel/Smith

I don't buy a lot of new comics in the "traditional" comic format these days, and almost none in that format that aren't creator-owned. I figure for the corporate stuff I can pick up a collection down the road if it seems interesting. One of the things I make an exception for is Karl Kesel writing the Fantastic Four with a good artist in tow (other recent exceptions have included Eddie Campbell writing Batman and Batton Lash doing a New Gods parody in RADIOACTIVE MAN with Royer inks). Which brings us to the recent one-shot WHAT IF DOCTOR DOOM HAD BECOME THE THING?, written by Kesel and drawn by Paul Smith.

This is a very nice little comic, featuring a fairly plausible deviation point for the characters, unlike a lot of "What If" stories (including, admittedly, my favourite, the Marvel Bullpen becoming the FF). In this one, Doom recognizes that Reed Richards caught his error in the classic college scene, and decides, as Doom would, that he can use and manipulate Richards, ending up taking Ben Grimm's place on the trip that led to the FF getting their powers. There are also a few nice twists along the way, using some good semi-logical extrapolations from the initial deviation combined with standard Marvel history.

I'm as impressed with Paul Smith's artwork. I've enjoyed his work for quite a while, and he's one of those few who can take a project like this, draw it in what's clearly his own style, but with just enough touches of the original Kirby style from these stories to evoke them without imitating. Plus his storytelling is nice and clear and open.

I was glad to hear that Kesel will be writing a few upcoming issues of FANTASTIC FOUR with Tom Grummett drawing, which should be fun. I don't know what, if anything, Smith has coming up. Hopefully some more of his LEAVE IT TO CHANCE series in the near future.

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