Writer Jonathan Hickman
Art Dale Eaglesham
Colors Paul Mounts
It has been a long time since I have gotten excited about an issue of the Fantastic Four, but this issue hit the mark. We all have favorite characters, groups or whatever and for me there has never been a book that I have not been willing to drop when it reaches some low ebb. The Fantastic Four was probably the book that hooked me into comics more then anything else. As a young kid I loved the Human Torch and thought it would be cool to have been him. Heck he can fly, flame on, raced cars and had great looking girl friends, what little hetro male wouldn’t want to be him. That was part of the hook, but the unreal adventures when the Frightful Four took their powers, finding the Inhumans, Johnny losing Crystal, Franklin being born, the Negative Zone, the list goes on and on. Over the course of the next 450 issues or so they lost me. There were some good times with John Byrne and I have the entire Waid run to read, but all in all I could never get back into their book and I wanted to. I also thought that the group had stagnated too much as Johnny is forever 25 or something, but Reed and Sue got older. I have that unrelenting desire for time to move forward for these heroes, but even with that handicap I still wanted to just read good FF adventures. It looks like Jonathan Hickman may be the man to make it work again. Heck if I like this run as much as I did the start I may go back and read JMS and Mark Millar’s runs on the book.
The books sort of picks up from what Hickman started in Dark Reign Fantastic Four mini-series, but it was all explained away with one or two sentences, Reed built a machine to see all the alternative worlds and is trying to use it to solve everything. That was all you needed and even that is explained in the actual comic. The actual issues opens with Reed as a child learning a lesson from his Dad that you have to be willing to try, you may fail, but you won’t succeed unless you try.
Then we jump right into the action as the FF is fighting some robots. They quickly discern the robots are made to fight each one of their powers. They change partners and win the day in rapid order. This happens too much in comics because many writers seem to think we don’t care about the action we have seen a thousand times before, but we are reading our billionth comic so a battle is okay. Still it is done quickly, but done well and we see Johnny show off an infrared red ability to see people’s heat signatures. I’m unaware if this has been shown before, but it was a nice touch. Reed pulls out a pocket transporter that leads him back to the controlling signal behind the human/robot creations of the Wizard and takes the Wizard down. The Wizard is ranting about how the world is coming apart and Reed knows it as well as the Wizard does as they both can read the math behind what is going on. The look on Reed face says that he agrees.
From there we cut to the Baxter Building and one of the strongest elements of this book is they are all family. In the next few pages that element is established very well, from putting the kids to bed, to Reed going to work late and Sue goes off to bed on her own, to Ben and Johnny paling around and being the friends that they have always been. It is the little touches that can elevate a book from being a good read to a great read. Part of what makes the FF special is the family dynamic and ignoring that turns them into just another super hero group.
The last few pages focus on Reed and he finds his way into an inter-dimensional nexus that is both outside and inside reality (or some other mumbo jumbo comic book science) and he is invented to join a council of alternative Reed Richards. We get a nice full page shot of a couple dozen Reeds from across the multi-verse. Reed is trying to solve everything and he is hoping for help from this group. He then meets the three founding Reed Richards who started the idea and each of them is wearing the Infinity Gauntlet. The all powerful gems that allow you to have god like powers. It was a great touch and a wonderful ending. You can just see that Reed’s desire to fix everything is founded on an altruistic principle, but is leading down a dangerous path. If you start a book invoking both Kirby and Starlin you have my attention.
Now why I love the story and need to have a great story to make it work comics are a visual medium and Dale Eaglesham did a beautiful job on this book. There is no inker credited, so I guess he inked himself and truth be told ever since DC teamed up Eaglesham with Nathan Massengill (I believe that is right) his work lost that edge it had when he started up the latest JSA book. It was great to see him on his own and I hope he can keep up a monthly pace. When I saw the preview I though his work might be too realistic to make this book work, but it really worked well. He showed off the entire FF using their powers in one single page fight against the robots and works well with the quiet moments. Dale was also able to depict the insane super science equipment that Kirby made a staple of the comic. The only minor complaint I have was that Reed and Johnny looked like they had been taking steroids and were way too heroically proportioned. A minor quibble in an otherwise stellar start for Dale’s run on this book.
Overall Grade A - A Fantastic Four comic that I can enjoy, it felt like I was coming back home and was welcomed with open arms. It had it all, family, action, adventure and cosmic story lines and it was $3!