Earlier this month Marvel relaunched the titular comic for its first family, the Fantastic Four. In the world’s greatest comic magazine, James Robinson has begun a rather dour and sad arc, where he starts off by showing a team divided by internal conflict and then showing through flashbacks how the team got to that point. That was the first issue, which introduced the setup. And at the end of the issue, he showed what really set off the division in motion, an unforeseen attack on the Baxter building by, well, extra-dimensional monsters.
In the second issue, he shows how the team deals with this threat, and how quickly it all escalates until the… incursion becomes something quite out of their control. And we begin to get an understanding of how the incursion took place and what, or who, might have caused it. Just as with the debut issue, the newly-released second issue is a fun and enjoyable read that mixes crazy science with superheroes and a family dynamic that is not present in, like, 99% of superhero comics. And the art, it continues to be straddling the line between good and decent, which is fine with me really.
One thing that I definitely did not enjoy this issue is that the villains, the monsters running amok in New York, are just so generic. They have no personality and no motivation and they don’t do anything other than just causing mayhem and then keeling over to die when Reed does his science stuff. In the previous issue we had Fin Fang Foom as the villain and at least he has some personality, being a sort of signature well-known (relatively speaking of course) villain. But these monsters, they are pretty run of the mill. I would have liked to have seen something from their perspective, or seen them do something out of the norm. They are, unfortunately, just a convenient placeholder it looks like.
But, that’s all that I can really say about the issue that would be negative. Other than the slightly abrupt ending. I enjoyed the characterisation of the the heroes, and I loved all the cameos that Robinson put together. At the start of the issue we have a flustered Fantastic Four running around trying to make sense of things, and then slowly we see how everything is pieced together so that the heroes can have their day in the sun and congratulate themselves on a job well done. But the mysteries remain of course, with Sue and Reed’s son Franklin having a possible explanation of the where and the how. Which is quite interesting really.
The extended Fantastic Four team, with the Richards’ kids and the other members such as Dragon Man, are still somewhat of a mystery to me since I’ve only read them in two issues of FF by Jonathan Hickman and in this new series with James Robinson. So I don’t know much about them. But one thing that James has done here is to make me interested in finding out more. And that, of course, means that I have a desire to read those Fantastic Four comics where the kids and the other members feature strongly. Or something like that. I’m really not conversant with the publishing history of this brand of Marvel comics.
But still, it was all quite a fun read. We don’t really get any “future” scenes as we did in the first issue, where Sue wrote a letter to her kids, explaining how the team came to be broken as it did, and that is indeed something that I missed. Because I loved that juxtaposition in the story. It added a fair amount of tension and grimness to the proceedings. Still, this is a tale in the making so I’m looking forward to seeing how James handles things as time goes on.
On the art side, we have Leonard Kirk (pencils), Karl Kesel (inks), Jesus Aburtov and Rachelle Rosenberg (colours), and VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters). This is still a solid team overall. I love the shiny cinematic style to the art, which sets this book apart from the rest of Marvel’s existing line-up. In the first few pages, the characters’ expressions are a bit off, and overdramatic too, but Leonard Kirk finds his groove pretty quick and by the end, his pencils are really good. The inks and colours all add to the atmosphere being built up and I gotta say that I loved every moment of this issue.
So, in a nutshell, James Robinson and Co. are continuing on with their solid start to the new series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
More Fantastic Four: #1.