Things are really beginning to heat up in James Robinson’s run on Fantastic Four. We’ve seen Marvel’s first family broken apart as a schism forms between Ben and Johnny, the team loses its home in the Baxter Building, and the children of the Future Foundation are taken away by SHIELD, and more. It is some really rough stuff and James has certainly not skimped on the whole doom and gloom though he has thankfully restrained from making it out-and-out grimdark. Which is where Peter Parker comes in at the tail-end of Fantastic Four #11, providing a ray of hope for the team.
Fantastic Four #12 is a huge turning point in the series. Ever since the title’s debut a few months ago, we’ve seen Marvel’s first family only react to the events unfolding around them. They’ve never really been in charge of things. Sue attempted to take back control when she briefly fought against the Avengers a while back and when she went to Latveria to get Valeria back, but by and large, the team has only fallen into a sorrier state. But now things are different. Now the team’s allies, the real allies I’d say, are gathering, and for the first time there is some real hope here for everyone.
As Wyatt Wingfoot, a friend of the Fantastic Four, began theorizing in the last issue, everything that has happened to the Fantastic Four is connected on a massive scale. Conspiracy-scale in fact. And this new issue begins to provide us with some answers. Peter Parker saved Wyatt from being murdered by someone who looks like and dresses like Clint Barton aka Hawkeye at the end of the last issue, and now we see the follow-through from that as the two of them hunt down Johnny and try to get his help in setting things right.
First and foremost, some of the scenes in this issue feel really rushed in that there are some obvious references to what has happened before, both in this series and outside of it, but they didn’t make much sense to me, such as this one particular scene between Ben Grimm and Sandman when the former asks the villain why he helped him against the other villains a while back. It makes for a confusing read admittedly and it may not be James’ finest hour either, but thing is that after all the setup of the heartbreak and the team’s dissolution, things are picking up speed for what I hope is a spectacular conclusion.
Especially since the series is unfortunately coming to an end in a few months. Them’s the breaks, but don’t mean I gotta like them.
On the whole, aside from some of the weird references and happenstance, I really enjoyed this issue. We don’t see Sue here, but we touch base with pretty much everyone else who is involved and we see Johnny, Reed and Be being proactive for once. It is high time for that, I can tell you. The team is no longer on the backfoot and I really, really like that angle.
Pacing wise, this is another great issue. We start off with the scenes involving Johnny, Peter and Wyatt. Then we segue into a scene involving Johnny and Ben that I really liked, especially after all that has happened between them of late. Then we move to Latveria with Valeria and Dr. Doom as we learn that the villain played his nemesis’ daughter for a grand fool and had been doing all along. And then we are in New Eden where Reed has some really tough questions for Mr. Eden, ending in a rather catastrophic cliffhanger.
Leonard Kirk is on the pencils for this issue, with Karl Kesel on the inks and Jesus Aburtov on the colours with VC’s Clayton Cowles on the letters and Leonard and Jesus on the cover itself. This issue is visually a lot of fun, especially when you throw in Peter Parker, since there are a lot of fun gags to be had between the characters. And I liked how Leonard made Ben’s face really expressive, despite his outward appearance. There’s also a splash page depicting the destruction that Sue caused in Latveria in Fantastic Four Annual #1 a few weeks ago that really conveys the scale of what she did there. Fantastic stuff altogether. Moody and expressive and also uplifting.