After a trip to dinosaur days with Sue, Ben and Johnny, Reed retreats to his lab to his lab to check out an arm injury he’s picked up. It turns out that his powers are fading – he’s breaking apart physically … and if it’s happening to him, surely the rest of the Fantastic Four face the same fate?
Being Reed Richards, of course, he doesn’t actually share his concerns. Instead he announces – Mr Fantastic never suggests – a year-long trip through time and space as part of the Future Foundation kids’ education. He’s hoping to find a solution to the powers problem, while giving everyone the time of their lives – as opposed to telling his family that their lives may soon be over, giving them the opportunity to spend their final days as they see fit
In subplot land, Johnny takes girlfriend Darla Deering on an unusual date, Ben finds the Yancy Street Gang surprisingly tech-savvy and Franklin has a nightmare which could be a premonition.
In all, this is a decent first Fantastic Four script from new writer Matt Fraction. He builds on the work of previous scribe Jonathan Hickman while setting off in a direction of his own. The short action scene at the start nicely conveys the frenetic feel of a Fantastic Four mission. And while there are a couple of missteps – Sue would never leave Franklin under the care of the sinister-looking ‘Mombots, while Reed doesn’t know what ‘physiognomy’ means – the heroes are basically themselves. My favourite moment involves Johnny Storm – it seems that while he’s grown as a hero of late, he’s still a tad clueless with women (click on image to enlarge).
A close second is a scene showing that though Ben and Sue are used to Reed’s futuristic technology, the mundane realities of the internet escape them.
The only moment that felt really off was Reed claiming unstable molecules as the basis of the team’s powers – or did I miss something?
I’ve not seen inker Mark Farmer over Mark Bagley’s pencils previously, and I have to say, I like the result. Farmer shores up Bagley’s occasionally wonky faces, with the result being a book that’s reminiscent of the classic Alan Davis/Farmer team. Which isn’t to say Bagley is a passenger, because his layouts convey the story beats with energy and heart.
Now, if only someone would give the Fantastic Four their traditional blue costumes – Hickman and Spider-Man are gone, let’s have the FF looking like the FF once more.
I laughed at this issue’s lettercol, looking back at Hickman’s most recent issues. It’s Marvel admitting that while this is technically a relaunch, it’s really just the next issue. Still, as next issues go, it’s a good one.