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MORTAL ENGINES (December 22, 2018)

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Top Of The Pile: Fantastic Four #1


I have a problem. When I get overexcited for something - be it a film, comic, TV show, whatever - I build it up and up in my enthusiasm, until when the real thing actually arrives the bar is set so high it rarely reaches it.

And then I come away disappointed.

The first issue of the long-awaited return of the Fantastic Four suffers from this.

It's a beautifully crafted piece of work from Dan Slott (a comic book author I have a lot of faith in) and superbly illustrated by Sara Pichelli, but...

And there was always going to be a 'but'.

It reads more like an issue of the current Marvel Two-In-One title, which has been concentrating on the efforts of Johnny Storm (aka The Human Torch) and Ben Grimm (aka The Thing) to find the rest of their multiverse-lost adventuring family.

I realise this is a bit of a spoiler, but the Fantastic Four don't reunite in this issue.

And, slightly, patronisingly, this very point is addressed in the one-page 'joke' strip at the back of the book (I sense the hand of editor Tom "I've edited more Fantastic Four comics than anyone else in history" Brevoort here, who is notorious for his heavy-handed dealings with irate fans).

Ironically, I'm usually the first to scoff at reviews that criticise an artistic endeavour for what it isn't, rather than focusing on what it is and how well it does that, but this is The Fantastic Four... and I think, after all this time, it's only natural that we would have some expectations about what the first issue would contain.

Instead, it appears that's actually going to be the second issue.

Now, the thing is, I know, that five, six years down the line in a glorious Dan Slott run on Marvel's First Family, this debut issue will be almost forgotten, a footnote to the intricate plotting, wild journeys, and trans-dimensional adventures of the Richards' family and their friends.

Sure issue one has some great - and potentially life-changing - character moments for Ben and Johnny, and their wonderfully broad cast of supporting players, but it's all just prologue to the events being set up in the final page of the main story.

It's slightly odd that the publication of Marvel Two-In-One wasn't timed better with this issue as the primary thrust of that title has been Ben and Johnny's hunt for Reed, Sue, and the kids, but now we know that comes to naught.

Rather unfortunately, after a wait of so many years for the title to return, this much-heralded issue - as solid as it was - felt like the final issue of Marvel Two-In-One rather than the first issue of a bright new era for the Fantastic Four.

Supporting this main story is the opening salvo of a strong Doctor Doom tale, illustrated by Simone Bianchi, which appears to be building to Doom's rightful return as an arch villain.

The main takeaway from all this is that everyone is getting back to where they should be: the Fantastic Four will be back next issue, Doom's going back to being the ultimate bad guy, everything is right in the world again. It's just taking a bit longer than we hoped...

4 comments:

  1. Agreed. In terms of a first issue of an important milestone comeback on a important anniversary, it was disappointing. I remember when X Factor was launched - the original X-Men got back together and DID something. But, the book is back, and that's the important thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, that's my attitude: the book is back, it's got a great writer and artist on it, and I'm sure there are impressive stories on the way.

      Delete
  2. So I read it a couple of days ago and I agree the art and the dialogue were excellent. I loved it. I wasn't disappointed at all and I think it's because I needed to have context. It's been years since I read FF and the film's pretty much killed any enthusiasm for them but what the first episode does is reminds people that FF are the superhero genre of Lost in Space; and in this case...quite literally! And Doom is back as the big bad. And it finishes on a cliff hanger...it's great stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a very good point. Sometimes in my blinkered geekdom I forget that there are people who've either lapsed or never read an issue of The Fantastic Four.

      In that case, I can see how this would be a fine introduction to the title, getting people up to speed on the whole 'lost in space' plotline and spelling out why the Four work so well as a family unit.

      Delete

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