The wrap-up of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk’s first arc on the newly relaunched Fantastic Four back in the end of May was quite heart-breaking indeed. The two creators, along with artists Jay Leisten and Jesus Aburtov had done an absolutely magnificent job up until that point and the fifth issue was really something else, especially since it starred a whole bunch of other creators as the US government took the team to task for their past mistakes and really made them pay. And given that the Original Sin event is ongoing too, well, the future is distinctly dark for the team.
There’s a lot that has happened in the previous five issues, and in issues 6 and 7 things really take a turn for the worse because the events of Original Sin finally hit the team, in addition to everything else that has been going on with them. And their troubles are far from over because the US government is still not done with them, or their kids and allies like the Dragon Man. And in the midst of it all, what The Orb did in Original Sin #3 is coming back to bite Johnny as Ben learns a terrible secret and acts on it. Robinson’s writing in this series has been heart-breaking from the get go, but these two issues really step up the tension even as the art team continues to be utterly fantastic.
Strangely enough, the covers for these two issues are switched. What happens on the cover of #7 happens in #6 and what happens on the cover of #6 kind of happens in #7. Other than that though, both covers are really awesome. The grimdark continues in both covers for the Fantastic Four and it is really heartbreaking. A team like the Fantastic Four, friends and family, a combined unit like little else in superhero comics, breaking apart like this? Yeah, that has appeal for me.
Personally, I’d say the biggest heartbreaking moment in either issue is when the Avengers bar the Fantastic Four from entering the Baxter Building and Sue just… loses control. Separated from her children already, natural and adopted alike, this is the last straw for her and I kind of liked that she let her hair down, so to speak. It makes her feel more complete as a character and I’m really glad that James Robinson went down that route. He has primarily focused on Reed Richards so far in his run and with Original Sin going on, Sue gets a brief moment to shine.
But then again, the moment in issue #6 (and then much more extensively in #7) when Ben confronts Johnny about an old accident from the early days of the team is also a great emotional moment. The way that Jim writes these scenes, you can really feel Ben’s sadness and his disappointment with Johnny. They’ve been a great duo over the years despite all their banter and to see their friendship ruined like this, it really makes you take a pause and reflect. These scenes also contain a lot of flashbacks in which we see the accident play out and that is even more heartbreaking to read and watch.
Man, it isn’t often that comics can get me emotional like this but these two sequences sure go that distance. And then the rest of what happens in either issue also packs in a significant punch for the reader. Much of either issue deals with what is happening with the core Fantastic Four team yes, but we also get some moments with the children of the Future Foundation, and I’m really not liking where that story is going. And I mean that in a good way. Jim has me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what is going to happen next to the kids, especially Sue and Reed’s daughter who is off… visiting with Dr. Doom, and the stage is set for some really major moments.
In issue #6 we have Leonard Kirk on pencils with Karl Kesel on inks, Jesus Aburtov and Veronica Gandini on colours and VC’s Clayton Cowles on the letters. In issue #7 the only changes are that Rick Magyar assists on the inks and Jesus Aburtov is the sole colourist. Dean Haspiel and Nolan Woodard do the Original Sin flashbacks for both issues. The art in both issues, as has been the case with the rest of the series, is really strong. The expressions, the nice gloss on the colours, the body languages, the little details, both issues are a treasure trove pretty much. You can take any scene and find something really good in each, and almost nothing that could be a negative. The differences in inks and colours between the issues aren’t really apparent, given the creative team changes, so that’s a plus as well. Overall I’d say that Leonard Kirk and Co. are a really strong art team.
These two issues have been as great as the previous five and hopefully the next seven follow suit!