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So I finished reading the last issue of the Fantastic Four (#588) and I’ve got to say Marvel finished it off with class. Even if the actual death scene of Johnny seemed a bit underwhelming, issue 588 made up for anything that was lacking in the previous issues, making Johnny’s death deeply poignant, and the loss genuinely sad. He was given the respect he deserves.
Here is a brief synopsis of the last few issues:
After returning from their battle to contain the Forever City of the High Evolutionary, the team splits off to various activities. Sue goes off to mediate negotiations between Prince Namor and the Tribes of Old Atlantis. Reed follows an angry Silver Surfer to consult with Galactus regarding why a future Galactus lies dead deep under the earth. Ben takes a serum that will make him human for about a week once a year; and after Johnny takes him for a night out on the town, they stay behind to watch over the kids of the Freedom Foundation.
Meanwhile, the Cult of The Other Side of Zero (huh?) succeeds in breaching the portal to the Negative Zone in Reed’s lab, and destroying its controls. And Annihilus in on his way with a horde of insectoid soldiers to invade Earth. The Avengers are called, but time is running out. Val and the kids find a way to get the shields up, but it won’t hold unless they can get it fully locked down, and it can now only be done from the Negative Zone side. Since Ben is powerless, Johnny pushes him to safety. Just then, Ben changes back to the Thing, and knows it should be him on that side. They share a brief death-of-Spock type moment on either side of the shield, and then Johnny turns to face the horde alone. As the portal closes, Ben sees the horde, billions strong, converge upon Johnny.
My only complaint is that I would like to have seen more of Johnny’s struggle, but it all happened off-screen. Not that I wanted to see blood and guts or anything, but a Nova Blast may have been nice, taking several with him on the way out, including Annihilus. However, I guess that leaves things open for Johnny to return some day.
Like I said, though, issue 588, "Month of Mourning", is a very apt capstone to the series. Twenty-four of the thirty-three pages have no speech bubbles, only images of the family dealing with the loss. ‘Nuff said. And the exchange at the end between Spider-Man and Franklin was very touching and powerful. It’s the markings of a great comic!
Now I am tempted to subscribe to the new FF title that starts up with the new team member. (Is it still a secret to say that it will be Spider-Man?) Here I go again. Just one title won’t hurt will it? I can stop anytime I want. Honest.
PodCastle wants you! We’re continually looking for volunteers of all backgrounds and ethnicities to read the cool stories we’ve bought. So if you’re listening to this, and you’ve ever wanted to read for PodCastle, or any of the Escape Artists podcasts, and you have recording equipment, we’d love for you to send us an audition.
Here’s what you do: Record a sample of you reading something, an excerpt from a story or a book, preferably under five minutes, just so we can get a feel for how you sound. If you can do accents – Creole, Spanish, Southern, Irish, Turkish, French, Japanese – please include that in your audition, and mention it in your email. Then drop us a line at email@example.com with your audition attached. .wav, .mp3, .aif attachments are preferred. Please mention “audition” in the subject line.
As I said, we’re looking for readers of all backgrounds and ethnicities, but what’s driving this casting call is an urgent need for a story featuring an African American man in Louisiana. Here at PodCastle, we’ve always prided ourselves in bringing you a selection of diverse stories, and we’d love to have more people of color read these stories for you.
If you have any questions, please post on our forum, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for listening, and we look forward to hearing from you.
One thing that sets the guys at Dunesteef apart is that they produce all of their stories with a full cast of voices, sound effects, music, and more. Big and Rish also stick around after the story to tackle a variety of topics.
I thought I'd also offer up my Top Ten Dunesteef stories. Here you go:
(Full disclaimer: The story descriptions are basically copied form the website)
1. Tattletale by Christopher Fisher (Ep. 84)
When a father makes up a ghost story to scare his child out of the bad habit of tattling, something strange happens. How much can belief alter reality?
2. May He Reign Forever by Nathaniel Lee (Ep. 90)
When the priests name 10-year-old Arem as the new king, they expect to be able to continue their way of life without a hiccup. Arem might have other plans… The unofficial winner of the annual Broken Mirror Story Event for 2010
3. A Princess of Earth by Mike Resnick (Winter 2010, Page 65)*
When a man’s wife dies, he is left with little purpose in his life beyond pushing through to the end of each day. Then, in the middle of one of the worst snowstorms of the year, he gets a visitor. A man, stark naked, and freezing out in the snow. What could he possibly be doing here in the man’s backyard in this state?
4. 27 Jennifers by Josh Roseman (Summer 2009, Page 76)
A young woman is considered all-too replaceable by her demanding husband Michael. This is the unofficial winner of the annual Broken Mirror Story Event for 2009. It is also the last of three stories told in the episode. They are all fun to listen to, but if you just want to catch this story, it starts at about 42:00 in.
5. The Edge of the Map by Ian Creasey (Summer 2009, Page 4)
In the near-future, where a steadily growing network of nano-cameras keep watch over almost everything, a reporter wants one last chance to get an old-fashioned scoop. So she heads to the last blind spot in the world, before the nano-cam network achieves 100% coverage. But just what exactly is waiting for her there?
6. CHEMO: The Condemned by J.M. Perkins (Ep. 85)
It’s Agent Joseph’s first mission with CHEMO, an elite team of trained agents. There’s been a riot at the prison, but it’s not like any riot you’ve ever seen before. A perfect mission to weed out a team of rookies who will be tested to its limits.
7. Willpower by Jason Stoddard (Winter 2010, Page 88)
Michael Delgado needs a job or he’ll be in contract breech. By chance he stumbles upon the perfect job, one that he can’t help but accept. However, the employers don’t want to give it to him, and just what exactly is his motivation for taking this job anyway?
8. A Better Teleportation Theory by Michael Anthony (Spring 2009, Page 4)
Tasha Meckler nearly discovered the secret of teleportation. Now discredited, a new opportunity arises to clear her name and regain respect in her field. Should she take it?”
9. Casts a Demon Shadow by Derek J. Goodman (Fall 2009, Page 81)
In the Old West town of Ogre Ridge, heavy-drinking, broken-hearted Cassie Grant finds herself in the middle of two powerful feuding families. Magical, necromancer families. Cassie won’t last for very long, unless she has help. Supernatural help.
10. Framing And Mounting Fairies by Kevin David Anderson (Fall 2008, Page 60)
In this lovely little how-to article, Dr. Morgan Z. Vile, instructs our curious readers in the delicate and fanciful art of mounting and framing woodland fairies for display in the home. This is a must read article for any hunter of the fey folk.
There you have it. These are my top favorites, but by no means are they my only favorites. Enjoy!
* Prior to Episode 78, Dunesteef catalouged its stories in a similar manner as print fiction magazines by volume, issue, and page, with issues being desgnated quarterly. It was a fun take on the audio magazine idea, but I think it was ultimately harder to navigate, so they went according to sequencial episodes.
In the FF history the team has seen changes. The Thing was gone for a while in his own comic. He was on the Secret Wars planet, then came back to Earth, even teamed up with the West Coast Avengers for a bit. During his time away, She-Hulk stepped in to fill the vacancy. Then later, Mr. and Mrs. Richards left the team to live a "normal life". Ben lead the team, Johnny stayed, and Crystal (of the Inhumans) and the second Ms. Marvel joined the group. But, of course, Mister Fantastic and Invisible woman couldn't stay gone forever. After helping to restart The Avengers, they came back to the FF.
I don't think Johnny has ever left, though, so this is new. Death is a tough way to go. I just may be lured by the hype and go buy the last few issues, but we'll see. As long as they don't bring H.E.R.B.I.E. back from the 1970's cartoon, I'll be happy. (Though I must say, that cartoon was my introduction to the Fantastic Four, so I owe it something.)
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. Jack's story starts out about 39:44 into the podcast, but I encourage you to listen to the whole podcast. Lizzane Herd reads "Names of Water" by Kij Johnson. You also get an in depth review of Tron: Legacy; and Starship Sofa host Tony C. Smith takes you on a tour of the new website and describes the upcoming Narrator's Workshop event that he is putting together for February 5th.
I have been following Starship Sofa throughout the last several months and it is quite enjoyable with great stories, interviews, reviews, and fact articles. Some people complain that it is too long, but it is usually full of Great Stuff! And it also won the 2009 Hugo Award for best fanzine. Check it out.
Merry Christmas! For the holidays, I recorded the nice little story "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry. I had aspirations to include this as one of many holiday tales, but alas, life moves forward, and other things come up. I also wanted to include some background music, but nothing quite fit. Hope you enjoy it.
The latest entries over at Swamp Stories are:
** All At Once by Nathaniel Lee, which I narrated for Dribblecast. Nathan posts 100-word stories on his Mirrorshards website every single day.
** My story, Joe the Alien, which I narrated, but also invited the voice talents of Rish Outfield, of the Dunesteef podcast, and Michelle Ristuccia, from the Pendragon Variey podcast.
** Dry Heat by Greg van Eeekout, which I read for Escape Artists' "Tricks or Treats" promotion, featuring exclusive audio stories for EA forumites only. Both Dave Thompson, who pulled it all together, and Greg van Eekhout , were nice enough to let me repost it here.
** I also started another posterous website, Scriptures Out Loud, where I am posting my readings from the Book of Mormon. I haven't been reading my scriptures as much as I should lately so I thought I would combine that with my desire to improve my reading voice. I thought of starting with the New Testament, but there are already so many audio versions of the Bible, I thought I would start with something more unknown to the world at large. If you're interested, check it out, but it is mainly just for practice. I have mostly been getting through the introductory stuff, but look forward to getting into the book proper.
Slow, slow, slow.
** I plan on using the Thanksgiving break to make some final revisions to "Pardon", a Thanksgiving themed story I wrote last year.
** Also I promised someone I would write another episode of Pants on the Ground this month.
** I need to make a writing goal. I know it's pathetic, but the only goal I feel I can meet right now is to write one main short story every two months, not counting other small "practice" stories.
ETA: I just got a new goal. The annual Triangulation anthology is starting on December 1st. This year's theme is "Last Contact". Hmm... I need to get on this.