When a book is eye candy to the extent that FF has been to date, a bit of grit really stands out. The grit on Joe Quinones and Laura Allred’s luscious FF #6 pages is the dream Scott Lang has of murdered daughter Cassie, a grey squall on a tropical sea. The images stay with him all day (click on image to enlarge) just when Scott – aka Ant Man, head of the Future Foundation – can’t afford to wallow in some anti-reverie, given that Medusa and Bentley-23 have vanished, and Darla Deering is being harassed by the Yancy Street Gang.
But Scott’s a hero learning to be a leader, and he pulls it together enough to attack both problems. He puts one over on the Yancy Streeters – no longer street toughs so much as cyber rats – with his own superior smarts, playing them at their own game in a way Reed Richards never would. And he sends She-Hulk and Medusa’s son, Ahura, to ask the Inhumans if they know where their queen is. We don’t find out what strong and silent Black Bolt tells his son, but he gives him a clue, along with teleporting dog Lockjaw.
Back at the Baxter Building, meanwhile, detective Dragon Man has discovered telltale strands of Medusa’s living hair by disabled security H.E.R.B.I.E.s. And an unseen Impossible Man – I’m guessing, but who else has a ‘POP’ sound effect? – provides a decent cliffhanger.
Also this issue, an exploded splash page shows the current configuration of the Baxter Building, we meet the slimiest hack in town and Moloid Tong announces that she identifies as a girl, not a boy, and starts sporting dresses … and why not, did anyone actually view the Mole Man’s minions as gender specific in the first place?
Writer Matt Fraction continues to do a terrific job writing the FF cast both as individuals and members of a group. You couldn’t find a more motley crew, but there’s a real feeling of being in it together. Thus, when Scott sorts Darla’s Yancy Street Gang problem – they hate the idea that as Miss Thing she’s usurping Ben Grimm’s position – it doesn’t feel like the woman having to get help from the man; it feels like one teammate helping out another. I’ve no doubt that Darla can repay the favour, but at the moment Scott is the experienced hero, and she’s the ingenue, smart enough to accept assistance without feeling slighted in the slightest.
Darla is also my favourite character in the book, her brash image contrasting with her quiet sincerity. Individual panels by illustrator Quinones – filling in for regular artist Mike Allred with equal amounts talent and good grace – and colour artist Allred are heartbreaking. Equally chokeworthy is Scott saying good morning to a photograph of Cassie on his smartphone – my Dad greets my late mother the same way.
And how’s this for a clever bit of cartooning, as the Yancy Streeters put Darla off during a new songs showcase – check out that snapped stave.
Mike Allred produces the typically striking cover – another Darla I just want to hug, and I love how Laura Allred swatches the logo background to match Darla’s pink barnet.
It’s a shame we don’t find out what Medusa is up to – last time we saw her take Bentley to see donor dad the Wingless Wizard and what passes for the Frightful Four these days. Still, we get an issue of excellent character and subplot development, ensuring that as the bigger story beats hit, we care more about our cast. Grade: FF – frankly fantastic.