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By Tim Stevens
Following the critical and sales success of last year's bilingual FANTASTIC FOUR: ISLA DE LA MUERTE, a follow-up became a guarantee. This March 4, that sequel has arrived, sending the Human Torch back to Puerto Rico with Spider-Man in tow in SPIDER-MAN & THE HUMAN TORCH: BAHIA DE LOS MUERTOS, courtesy of writer Tom Beland and artist Juan Doe.
For the writer, teaming up Spider-Man and the Human Torch seemed like a natural.
"They're, to me, the ultimate team-up," articulates Beland. "They're Butch and Sundance, and when you get the chance to put them together, you take it. You don't say 'No thank you, I'll have the Falcon, please.' No. You sit down and you demand your Torch to be served with a side of Spidey."
The follow-up also represents part of Beland's growing master plan.
"My goal has always been to take each of the Fantastic Four to Puerto Rico," he explains. "The island has become such a huge part of my life and when I wrote last year's book, I was amazed at how many cool locations there were for future storylines here."
The locale this time out came to Beland during a special sojourn to the island.
"My wife, Lily and I took a trip to Vieques and I was blown away with the beauty there," the writer recalls. "That phosphorescent bay is something you truly have to see to believe. You always hear
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Puerto Ricans talk about this place with great reverence and love. When I got there, I totally got it. It's why I love writing about locations I've personally been to. It allows me to really get into the story."
Respecting the language of Puerto Rico also struck Beland as an integral part of crafting the story.
"It may seem like a gimmick, but the fact is, you can't have a story focus on an area where everyone speaks Spanish and not give them a chance to enjoy the book in their own language."
Taking the time to be authentic has not gone unnoticed.
"The lines [Juan Doe and I] had last year [for signings] were amazing," says Beland. "To this day, I still get parents stopping me at the store to tell me how much their kids loved that book. That's so awesome.".
Another pleasure of tackling the Marvel Universe in Spanish for Beland is the opportunity to work with artist Doe again.
"Juan's style is so unique to comics," he praises of his collaborator. "You look at his work and you instantly know it's him. I was amazed that he even had time to do this book. He's been doing a lot of work since that first book, but, fortunately, he digs working on the [Puerto Rico] books. I think when you have a connection with the idea on that level, it's really hard to let someone else do it."
With that in mind, Beland has already begun work on what he hopes will be the next Puerto Rican adventure for the Fantastic Four.
"The next Puerto Rico book will feature the Invisible Woman in Ponce," he reveals. "I'm creating a very cool character for this story that I hope the Boricuas will truly love. I'm also working on who to team her up with.
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"And yes, we'll be featuring that cool multi-colored firehouse they have there too," Beland adds.
SPIDER-MAN & THE HUMAN TORCH: BAHIA DE LOS MUERTOS hits stands on March 4. You can also read last year's adventure in both English and Spanish on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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