It’s back, proclaims the cover. The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!
I must have picked up the wrong book, because even allowing for hyperbole, Fantastic Four #1 is far from that.
It’s certainly not awful, Dan Slott always provides something entertaining, but with the FF having been absent from shelves for years, I was hoping for something big. Instead, this reads like another issue of the Marvel 2 in 1 series I’ve been buying for several months – entertaining business involving Johnny and Ben, but no reunion.
So what do we get?
A Fantastic Four flare fake-out.
A song in Johnny’s heart.
Finally, on the last page, there’s real hope of an FF reunion. Which I won’t spoil. I have spoiled a fair amount there; but why not, this is a Marvel comic, they likely released all the details last weekend.
While I didn’t get what I want, I did get some good stuff. Slott’s always been a terrific FF writer – this is his first time as series scribe, but he’s sneaked them into his books wherever he could down the years. I’m pretty excited to see where he takes the team – possibly the DC Universe, given this explanation of the multiverse…
… and Johnny’s singing his way home recalling Grant Morrison’s Superman Beyond (is that song famous in the US, I’ve only heard of Wayne Newton via a casino frontage in the Vega$ credits). I love that this issue features longtime supporting cast members Alicia Masters and Wyatt Wingfoot, along with old substitute members She-Hulk, Power Man, Medusa and Crystal, and the family dynamics in the space flashback are huge fun – silly old Sue!
I just wish all of that were threaded into a story with the reunited team front and centre, saving the world.
Slott is partnered with penciller Sara Pichelli, whose Marvel work I’ve mostly missed as she’s long been associated with Ultimate Universe stuff, an area I checked out of pretty early on. I like her loose, scratchy style for the most part, it’s very expressive and rather cheery; I’m not keen, though, on her version of Johnny in Human Torch mode, which is more Golden Age Torch than his successor. Pichelli inks some pages, with the rest handled by Elisabetta D’amico, while Marte Gracia colours. Overall, the story looks decent, but it doesn’t knock me out… I’ve likely never gotten over the loss of classic inker Joe Sinnott.
The issue also features a back-up by Slott and Simone Bianchi featuring a mightily muscled, near-naked Victor Von Doom. The art is striking – bigfoot, hairy-legged Dr Doom is a hoot – but it feels like I’ve seen ‘Doom reclaims his kingdom’ stories a million times before and I’ve no interest in Doom as a solo act.
There’s also a single pager from Slott and Skottie Young.
There are a horde of cover variants, but the regular one is by Esad Ribić and I’m not keen. Our heroes look like bad guys, with those manic facial expressions, and Torch is so indistinct as to be barely there. And that logo is not good… I think it’s from some old FF TV cartoon.
So, will next issue see the return of the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine?