Sunday, November 18, 2012

WGTB Reviews Fantastic Four #1

At Fan Expo Canada this summer, Axel Alonso told us in a panel discussion that Marvel NOW! was going to be an opportunity for the new writers to make a 'hostile takeover' of their rebooted books and really make them their own. What exactly the editor-in-chief meant by this, we probably won't know until their respective sixth issues, but Fantastic Four #1 in twenty-two pages gave us a pretty good idea of what this meant to Matt Fraction: he's taking this book out of time and out of space!
Marvel's Fantastic Four #1 (January 2013) Written by Matt Fraction with pencils by Mark Bagley, inks by Mark Farmer, colours by Paul Mounts, letters by VC's Clayton Cowles.  Edited by Tom Brevoort & Lauren Sankovitch. Price: $2.99 

(Spoilers Below)
With art by Mark Bagley and Mark Farmer, this first issue of the still self-proclaimed "World's Greatest Comic Magazine!" begins with a quick back and forth through time, which is too complicated to explain here. It eventually settles, however, on the Baxter building complete with the members the extended Richards gang acquired during Jonathan Hickman's run. From there we move to Johnny Storm on a (hilarious) date in the Negative Zone, Ben Grimm in trouble on the Internet and Sue surveying her 'circus'. The issue then resolves itself with Reed suggesting the group head into space and time on board the 'greatest classroom ever concieved', all the while keeping secret the real goal of his voyage, which is to find a cure for the team's decaying powers.  
Johnny Storm takes his date to the Negative Zone from Marvel's Fantastic Four #1.
As happened in All-New X-Men #1, this book will play fast and loose with the space-time continuum and you get the sense from the get-go that it's going to focus on high space adventure. Frankly, it's great to see Fraction continue with the idea of the Fantastic Four being as much scientists and educators as super-heroes, and I'm already confident that it's going to have some great writing. Character wise, I was a little perturbed that Mr. Fantastic kept something from his wife, but if this turns out to be as important of a plot point as I think, then it will turn into some interesting drama and all will be forgiven.

Bagley's art captures the scientific aspect of Fantastic Four #1 well. Some of the faces, not so much.
Johnny Storm's date with a celebrity at the beginning was funny enough to give me a laugh out loud moment at work (I've felt the same way vis-a-vis a girlfriend and her mother), and was very true to character. Likewise was Sue Richards when she surveyed her domain with the love, wonder and protective energy we've come to expect from this stalwart Marvel character. 

Sue Richards surveys her 'circus' and Ben Grimm tries to stop something from going viral in Fantastic Four #1
Mark Bagley and Mark Farmer's art was good. I happened to notice that in some cases the female characters bear a striking resemblance to each other, but all in all the artwork seemed to capture the fantastical nature of the comic well and should work with the 'big idea' space themes we've come to expect from the Fantastic Four. Truth be told, I'm a F4 fan through and through and will always give it the benefit of the doubt. Happily, this issue gives me no reason not too once more: it's a good start and will give us the solid cosmic-themed family drama we've come to expect from one of Marvel's greatest books. 4/5 STARS

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