Acclaimed writer Dan Slott and incredible artist Sara Pichelli have finally graced us with the first edition of their new Fantastic Four series for Marvel Comics. Fresh off a long and spectacular run in Spider-Man, which Slott turned upside down a few good times, it’s time for The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine to move a few Slotts further to the top.
AND IT DELIVERS!
This is a The Thing friendly book, written by the author of his solo comic with the same name, an intensely amusing one I still remember fondly from back in the days of ’06, so it’s no surprise that we follow up with how our favorite Blue Eyed Orange dude is going these days. Save for him and Johnny, the other half of the Fantastic Four has disappeared ever since the mega event Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman, on which Reed Richards and Susan Storm-Richards have decided at staying on the edges of reality shaping the multiverse with Molecule Man and their offspring Franklin and Valeria Richards. So Benjamin’s life without his family is pretty grim, as he has gave up any shred of hope to ever see them again, decides to move on with his life and going to the farmer’s market with Alicia seems like the right way to do it.
Meanwhile, the Human Torch Johnny is firing up a storm of his own, watching the Mets game with his buddy Wyatt Wingfoot and racking up selfie-addled followers until they spot a flaming “Fantastic Four” written in the sky. What’s interesting about the double paneled pages between Johnny and Ben is that it’s made to emphasize how different these two react to the same situation. Whereas Johnny is excited at the prospect of a possible return of his family members, Benjamin is sure they won’t come back and simply reacts with apathy, even at the behest of his fellow citizens.
It turns out to be a fake, as it was just some Yancy Street kids messing around with The Thing’s old flare gun. The Human Torch is not amused.
We get a news flash exposition about the background of the team, the opinions of popular Marvel characters like Medusa and Luke Cage regarding their disappearance and Jennifer Walters AKA She-Hulk’s official statement regarding the matter.
Johnny Storm has his trademarked knee-jerked hot headed reaction and demands the kids be jailed, but She-Hulk is already on the station ready to defend them at the behest of The Thing, who blames himself for their misdemeanor as the flare gun was stolen from his own apartment.
The Blue Eyed Giant goes back to his apartment to inspect his old items and we get a flashback with the Four, a story very reminiscent of Slott’s latest Silver Surfer run as they make their way from the edges of the universe back to Earth through Johnny Storm’s amazing set of pipes and some gags about Susan Storm-Richards’s own singing voice.
Now, there is some valid criticism going around as the team is still not currently back together on their way to new adventures, which for some didn’t feel like the best starting point. I do not share that opinion, because it feels to me as if this first issue is much more about exploring the Fantastic Four’s legacy so that when we finally have everyone gathered around the fire it will be a cathartic experience.
In a way, I feel the writer himself makes some in-universe criticism about that, as Johnny and Ben’s dichotomy explores those same areas of frustration that readers looking forward to their return since Secret Wars are familiar with.
Ben Grimm takes the leap forward and he finally asks the big one to his longtime love interest Alicia Masters and asks Johnny to be his best man, prompting a fiery reaction from the younger Storm, claiming that only Reed Richards could ever be Ben’s Best Man.
The Human Torch flies sky high and lashes out at the cosmos, hoping to get any sort of response from Reed at the edge of the Universe. Nothing happens. He goes back on ground to hug what’s left of his family.
Then we see a couple of silhouettes at a Mysterious Place in Space™ and one of those is stretched, working on a device with celestial design. It’s Reed and Sue!
Finally, New York City’s sky is encompassed by a blue light, prompting reactions from many characters and we finally see a giant 4 hovering on Earth’s orbit.
“It’s about damn time”, says Johnny Storm.
I definitely agree, Matchstick.
In the back up story, we have THE RETURN OF DOOM
That’s pretty much all I need to say about that.
Finally, there is a tongue in cheek Scottie Young and Dan Slott collab that pokes a little fun at some of the anticipated criticism:
All in all, I had a wonderful time reading this issue and was very satisfied with the writing and the art, which, by the way, Signora Pichelli, was absolutely fantastic.
Everyone should get this comic and the next one and the next one after that.