What kind of introduction can one come up with for the Fantastic Four? The original Marvel comic super-hero series that changed the world upon its release, which has run almost continuously for over six decades, has spawned four major movies of varying quality, multiple animated series, featured some of the biggest creative names in comic book history, rumored to appear in Deadpool 3, and so on. The core team of Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic, Susan Richards aka Invisible Woman, Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch, and of course Ben Grimm aka the Thing return with the newly relaunched series Fantastic Four #1 (Legacy #694) with a new creative team and direction.
When I picked up this first issue of the rack at my local comic shop (shout out to the Time Capsule in RI) there were a few things I expected; a galaxy spanning tale of cosmic importance, a cast of dozens of FF friends and students from their school, and of course a long hinted at a revelation that will shock, SHOCK I SAY and change the future of the Marvel universe for months to come.
Instead what I got was a great little tale featuring The Thing and his wife Alicia Masters-Grimm stumbling upon a town where things are not quite what they seem, the most important thing being that the town had disappeared over sixty years prior! There are some time-travel elements or Groundhog Day elements if you choose, very nice interactions between The Thing and Alicia, and a mystery to be solved. That, to put it mildly, was unexpected.
New writer Ryan North has stated that he wants to bring a sense of exploration and the unexpected to the series and boy did he accomplish that. Having a highly anticipated and promoted launch of a new Fantastic Four series that features only one member of the team was a bold choice but one that immediately sets it apart from its previous exposition heavy run. My only real complaint was the ending of the book which *spoiler* reveals that Reed Richard did something horrible in New York which will be kept a mystery for the time being. It feels too similar to the recently relaunched Amazing Spider-Man #1 and the “What did Peter do?” arc. Will every Marvel hero be getting this mysterious incident when their books relaunch? Is it a super-secret crossover of some sort? Who knows, all I can tell you is felt oddly familiar to me in a not so good way.
Now that we have that out of the way we finish up with a few more positives. I liked the story itself and felt it was the first Fantastic Four comic in a long time that I could probably get my wife to enjoy. The artwork by Ivan Coello is strong and his version of The Thing is particularly effective. The use of panels extending past the edge of the paper to show time passing was a particular favorite of mine, usually when you notice the layout of a comic it is not in a good way but this time it was effective and clever.
It is hard to say what the future of the series will look like based on this one issue but so far I am enjoying this new take on the Fantastic Four and am curious as to where it will go from here. Hopefully, Ryan can keep the focus on the team, or should I say family, and bring us some really great mysteries to explore with them.
Fantastic Four #1
Marvel Comics – $4.99