Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Fantastic Four #1 review

After a trip to dinosaur days with Sue, Ben and Johnny, Reed retreats to his lab to his lab to check out an arm injury he's picked up. It turns out that his powers are fading - he's breaking apart physically ... and if it's happening to him, surely the rest of the Fantastic Four face the same fate?

Being Reed Richards, of course, he doesn't actually share his concerns. Instead he announces - Mr Fantastic never suggests - a year-long trip through time and space as part of the Future Foundation kids' education. He's hoping to find a solution to the powers problem, while giving everyone the time of their lives - as opposed to telling his family that their lives may soon be over, giving them the opportunity to spend their final days as they see fit

In subplot land, Johnny takes girlfriend Darla Deering on an unusual date, Ben finds the Yancy Street Gang surprisingly tech-savvy and Franklin has a nightmare which could be a premonition.

In all, this is a decent first Fantastic Four script from new writer Matt Fraction. He builds on the work of previous scribe Jonathan Hickman while setting off in a direction of his own. The short action scene at the start nicely conveys the frenetic feel of a Fantastic Four mission. And while there are a couple of missteps - Sue would never leave Franklin under the care of the sinister-looking 'Mombots, while Reed doesn't know what 'physiognomy' means - the heroes are basically themselves. My favourite moment involves Johnny Storm - it seems that while he's grown as a hero of late, he's still a tad clueless with women  (click on image to enlarge).
A close second is a scene showing that though Ben and Sue are used to Reed's futuristic technology, the mundane realities of the internet escape them.

The only moment that felt really off was Reed claiming unstable molecules as the basis of the team's powers - or did I miss something?

I've not seen inker Mark Farmer over Mark Bagley's pencils previously, and I have to say, I like the result. Farmer shores up Bagley's occasionally wonky faces, with the result being a book that's reminiscent of the classic Alan Davis/Farmer team. Which isn't to say Bagley is a passenger, because his layouts convey the story beats with energy and heart.

Now, if only someone would give the Fantastic Four their traditional blue costumes - Hickman and Spider-Man are gone, let's have the FF looking like the FF once more.

I laughed at this issue's lettercol, looking back at Hickman's most recent issues. It's Marvel admitting that while this is technically a relaunch, it's really just the next issue. Still, as next issues go, it's a good one.

17 comments:

  1. "The only moment that felt really off was Reed claiming unstable molecules as the basis of the team's powers" wow! I haven't noticed that...Kind of mistake an editor should have averted, I think. But apart that, it was a fun issue. Hope the Future Foundation works better, 'though, I'm having great expectations for the Fraction/Allred partnership.

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    1. I'm looking forward to FF hugely, especially seeing how Darla becomes Miss Thing (why is she already called that on the magazine cover this issue?).

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    2. IS it a mistake? Sure, they got their powers from cosmic radiation, but they aren't then -made- of cosmic radiation. And Reed invented a way to manufacture unstable molecules right after. Even if never stated before, it would make perfect sense than the cosmic rays turned their regular molecules into unstable molecules, thus their powers, thus Reed learning about them.

      Anyway, is there any chance the intro scene doesn't turn out to be the method by which Reed fixes everyone?

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    3. That's good thinking, Mac, but I don't think a writer should suddenly change the way something is described when it bumps int an established concept. But I've been up since 6.15am and am a grumpy sod!

      You may well be right about the cure!

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  2. Sounds like this hotly anticipated issue has some glaring errors in it; Ill have to wait and see about that. I intend to keep this issue until I finally move into my new house [any day now!] as I want Fantastic to be the first book I read in it.

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    1. Good luck with the move. What can I say but, 'A House There was'.

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  3. I don't read much Fantastic Four outside of Ultimate Fantastic Four, so I decided to come into this blind and hoping for the best. Plus I had to since it connects to FF, which I'm more interested in.

    Overall, it was alright. There's nothing wrong with it, but I'm not finding anything in it worth continuing with. I'll be check out the next two issues regardless since they connect into FF. Afterwards, I'm dropping this.

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    1. I tried a few Ultimate FFs but it didn't grab me - is it still being published?

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    2. Nah, it ended during Ultimatum. It was a mercy killing though since it started getting really bad when Mike Carey took over. Hard to believe it was the same writer who wrote The Unwritten and Lucifer for Veritgo.

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  4. Yeah, I have to agree, Mark Bagley inked by Mark Farmer does look a lot like Alan Davis. It leads me to ponder how much of what we think of as Davis' style is actually due to Farmer's inking? In any case, he does a lovely job inking Bagley.

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    1. I was wondering the same thing. Give that man Farmer a rise!

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  5. "Unstable molecules," the clothing version, were also created in the cosmic ray bombardment of their original mission. So I suppose it's within the limits of artistic license to to use the term as shorthand for the transformation their bodies underwent as well. The clothes stretch, I stretch, same cause, hence same name, at least as shorthand.

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    1. Snell, you're being very kind there! I don't see that shorthand is needed, and this shorthand begged confusion.

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  6. Sounds like an interesting start. Fantastic Four and FF are two of the books that really entice me for Marvel Now (the other two are All-New X-Men and Indestructible Hulk), so I'm reading your reviews with keen interest, but most likely, my wallet closed. (At least until the trade paperbacks are available.)

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    1. If you're waiting, it may be worth checking the stories out n library trades. What day reckon?

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  7. Reed is a douche to Franklin. Val's snark triggers a great plan but Franklin's comment about not going into space is not even heard as Reed decides to take him into space?


    Oh, and Miss Thing should be a gay male character...

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  8. Of course you know I agree with you about the FF uniforms, but let's no go THERE again, eh? :-)) And I caught the bit about Reed's "physiognomy" and his confusion about the "unstable molecules" too. The unstable molecules are what the suits are made of; the powers come from a cosmic-ray-induced mutation. We the readers know that, so why doesn't Matt Fraction, a writer who has otherwise impressed me, muck it up that way? And I'm tired of the recurring "Reed has an agenda he doesn't share with the others" motif too; it's unworthy of him. Still, I've decided to watch the "new" FF series for six months and see how I like what Fraction is doing.

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