Thursday, 12 April 2012

Fantastic Four #605 review

Some time back, the Future Foundation kids produced a serum that allows the Thing to revert to Ben Grimm for one week every year. Suspecting a certain side effect, Reed quietly has his father, Nathaniel, use his time-jumping tech to take the two of them to the New York of 3012, 4012, 5012 and 6012. And there they find not only Reed's godlike son Franklin surviving, but Ben too - getting older, certainly, but always ready for 'clobberin' time as a member of future Fantastic Fours.

Sadly, as he gets older, Ben gets lonelier, especially once Franklin leaves 'to run with the gods'. Yes, he keeps his game face on, but there's no missing that his twinkle's fading as his rocky beard grows.

Back in 2012, Reed doesn't tell Ben what he's seen. Instead, he joins him in watching sport on TV, and passes Ben a beer.

Yes, he passes Ben a beer. Obviously, Reed is giving Ben something to counteract the reversion therapy, to spare him a lonely ooooooooooooooooold age.

Or not. There's no sign Reed does any such thing, the only real hint being Reed's downward expression, towards the bottle. It's not as if Reed has any right to take away Ben's annual Ordinary Guy Week, or the promise of a future that likely contains a lot of joy before the sadness.

So maybe he did the deed. And maybe he didn't. Perhaps Reed is planning to instigate a conversation. I rather like the uncertainty, preferring not to know whether or not Ben lives pretty much forever alongside Franklin and his naff little ponytail.

So nice one writer Jonathan Hickman for a done-in-one story that made me think. It's not perfect - the future scenes themselves are pretty dull, full of jet sleds but scant wonder, and there's this headscratcher of a comment from Nathaniel ...
A hereditary epidemic?

Overall, though, this is a decent read. I'd be amazed were Hickman not to follow up on the implications of Reed's new knowledge - he even has Nathaniel point out that such 'can complicate relationships in unforseen ways' - but if he doesn't, I'm fine with the book as is.

The art by guest artist Ron Garney captures the story's melancholy mood, and it's well coloured by Jason Keith. I especially like the way they suggest the emotions of Reed and Nathaniel. I do wish, though, they'd been given something truly out there to draw ... thousands of years in the future and New York simply looks like a shinier version of New York (there's even a Baxter Building, though I can't see how Reed recognises it, as it doesn't reflect any version I can recall). And I'm not keen on their Thing, who looks like a Bendy Toy, devoid of definition.

See that cover? That's Bendy Ben right there, snarling in a way he never does in the story. Such drama. I smiled at the nod to the FF's debut on the gravestones, even though it makes no sense in Marvel Time.

There you go - a  whole Fantastic Four review, and not one mention of the ugly new costumes ... oops.

8 comments:

  1. No he didnt give Ben anything but a beer! What the last page demoonstrated ,is that reed with all the council business and saving the universe, has neglected spending time with one of his best friends.


    HE realised that with all thats happened he missed just being with his mate and chilling out, and Ben realised it as well, thats why he says "I've missed you too strech"

    One of the best final pages from Marvel in a long long time superb issue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, it's the most likely scenario, but you know Marvel. If not Hickman, someone will come back to this scene and reveal what 'really' happened.

      I love your firm assessment of the scene, I like the idea that Reed's getting some of the humanity back that he's been missing since he began that quest to 'solve everything'.

      Many thanks for the comments!

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the heads up. I'm looking forward to picking up my copy from FP on Tuesday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No bother, Kid, I hope you like the book.

      Delete
  3. Since Hickman announced he was leaving Ive been expecting this 'be Ben Grimm for one week' thing to be done away with. Im dissapointed about this, as Id like it to continue. That besides, it was a sturdy stand-alone tale, presuming thats what it is and not just another sub-plot left to dangle forever.
    Reed and Nathaniel's relationship is finally being addressed, its being adroitly ignored for far too long in favour of The Worlds Longest Running Plotline, and Nate now forging a convivial 'fellow scientist' friendship with his son is appropriate for these two dissimilar men. Makes a change for Nate from being Valeria's horse whisperer. And Lord that future they zoned into looks bleak, how very unoriginal it all seems, like The Jetsons twinned with Primark. Reed does nothing as usual, in line with Marvel's continuing depiction of its leading FF leader as elderly and indecisive....our Reed should be more proactive than this. Ben dose little but sulk and look moody yet I suppose after the past three years we can pass on any real criticism and get back to one-off stories which can be delightful. This issue wasnt delightful but it made a nice change, and the FF gravestones on the cover are a cute touch.
    Issue was okay.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But wasn't the arc that started the previous storyline in the first place (the "Solve Everything" one) all about Reed (actuually "Reeds") being proactive about problem (and therefore inadvetedly causing more problems, see, irony!)? Nevrtheless I think Reed does indeed "do something" in this issue. The big "lesson" he was suppose to learn was about simply taking time out from his crazy sci-fi adventures to spend precious time with his psuedo-immortal friend before he has to live out his lonely pro-longed life. That Ben doesn't like it but is still willing to deal with his fate, even as he becomes an increasingly aging relic is a testiment to the character. Indeed for all it's time-travel gimmicks, this story was the quintessential Reed and Ben story, the "brain" and the "heart" of the Fantastic 4 who end up connecting in the end. I found this issue...well...fantastic.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Jon, you make your point well. I do miss the days when there was no ambiguity in the relationships of the FF - they knew one another best, and the threats came from outside the family. I'm looking forward to the day I can just plain like Reed again.

      Delete
  4. 'The Jetsons twinned with Primark' - Karl, if I had a Crackerjack pencil right now, I'd give it to you.

    And I agree that Reed has been mistreated by Marvel for a long time; once he was probably the most-trusted man in the Marvel Universe, today he's a nobody.

    ReplyDelete