Fantastic Four #25 review

Since at least Jim Shooter’s tenure as Editor-in-chief in the Seventies, Marvel Comics has been built on the illusion of change. A shocking romance here, a change of identity there, the destruction of the Savage Land, No More Mutants… pretty much everything gets reversed, but it’s often fun while it lasts.

There’s one corner of the Marvel Universe where things really do grow, and stick – the Fantastic Four. Reed and Sue got married, had kids, Johnny wed Alicia… OK, that never stuck, but it had many story consequences. My point is that character growth happens, situations change for good. Just recently, Ben Grimm – the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing – and Alicia Masters finally got hitched after a 50-year romance. And as of this issue, they have kids.

Well, adopted ones, as space orphans Jo-Venn and N’Kalla settle in with them.

Elsewhere, Invisible Woman and part-time super-spy Susan Storm Richards is being assigned a mission by Nick Fury Jr.

Behold the intelligence operatives, doing nothing to arouse suspicion – every coffee shop has floating tablets and men talking to themselves…

Mr Fantastic, Reed Richards, is watching daughter Valeria show how much she takes after her pop.

And big brother Frank is explaining that Uncle Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, just doesn’t get it.

New costumes from scratch – did the FF finally run out of unstable molecules?

The quiet evening is interrupted by the coming of… Galactus.

Kidding. For once the purple people eater isn’t invading Earth. Nope, it’s a couple of newcomers, Cormorant and Helmsman. They’re looking for one of those boxes that have been going missing. And guess which super-stretchy, super-secretive superhero had one secreted away in his former HQ.

By the end of the issue we’ve seen what’s inside Container Zero. We’ve also seen Frank cut loose, the return of She-Hulk (sort of), upstart FF wannabes the Fantastix humbled and Victor Von Doom sign up as charter member of the Franklin Richards Fan Club.

I like that. Dr Doom is Valeria’s godfather (ah, comics) so it’s nice that he likes Frank too; if anything will stop Victor and Reed warring for good, it’s their shared fondness for the kids.

Frank is pretty great this issue, not just taking on a massively powered new foe, but coming up with a pretty creditable Plan B when things go awry.

Valeria is impressive, her big brain as useful as any super power, but not so great – she’s pretty bratty in the disrespectful way she dumps Alicia to take the new kids into battle. Val has the poor emotional intelligence of her father and the arrogance of her godfather – a pretty terrible combo.

She does, though, have a cute new hairdo, courtesy of new series artist RB Silva. As for those fresh uniforms Sue mentioned, they’re great – different enough to count as new but very much based on the Jack Kirby template.

Silva impresses from the off, the opening panels of Cormorant speeding towards New York being slickly dramatic.

The artist keeps the quality throughout this double-sized 670th issue (don’t you just love ‘Legacy numbering?). The established characters look tremendous while the new foes slot (no pun intended) nicely into the FF’s world, despite Cormorant apparently taking his wardrobe tips from Dr Manhattan,.

Actually, not everyone looks brilliant, but it’s not Silva’s fault, necessarily. Reed’s furry jaw… it’s terrifying.

The Fantastic Jaw

Writer Dan Slott is a beardie, he’s likely the one keen for Reed to have that thatched roof on his chin. Honestly.

Slott does deserve credit for a very good script, full of great lines and set pieces that go to make up the larger story. So we get classic Day in the Life stuff, secrets uncovered and action aplenty. Plus, there’s Victor Von Doom.

Dr Doom is, of course, Marvel’s greatest villain, and I always love it when he and the FF are in truce mode. He’s in New York on Latverian business, and recognises when it’s time to put rivalry aside. So, while there are still barbed comments, he and Reed team up, because two big brains are better than one.

The issue is titled ‘There shall come a Reckoning’, meaning this is the start of the Reckoning War, a storyline Slott’s been dropping hints about for years. And if subsequent chapters are as great as this, I’ll be around for the whole show.

I do have one problem – Johnny uses his nova flame, puts his entire body of heat into a single blast.

Sure, Sue has force fields, but shouldn’t everyone else have been cremated?

Anyway, that’s Johnny’s power burnt out for the issue. Frank is also running on empty after his battle with Cormorant, and what happens next begs a question.

So, Krakoa doesn’t acknowledge Frank. If Frank is considered a mutant, rather than the mutate child of parents with super powers, he has the x-gene. Surely that’s there whether his powers are active or not? It’s not five minutes since Scott Summers and friends were courting Frank to join their creepy community; did they only want him for his god-level abilities?

Questions like this will bring me back, as will the events of the issue’s second story, a short featuring Nick Fury – the real one – and an old friend of the FF.

Thank the stars, finally Nick is no longer a substitute Watcher, chained literally and metaphorically to the moon. Maybe he’ll even get his hair back. As for the magical return of Uatu from death, who cares that his extinction is waved away, he’s one of the great universal forces and the Marvel Universe was the worse for the Watcher’s absence.

Slott’s script is illustrated by Paco Medina and the work is gorgeous. Like Silva, Medina has the benefit of a wonderful colour artist in Marcio Menyz; Silva works with Jesus Aburtov. While I still prefer traditional comic book colouring to the painted stuff, I have to acknowledge that both colourists make a huge contribution.

The issue is rounded out with a super-cute page by Slott and artist Will Robson introducing a new piece of FF kit that also serves to encourage reader mail.

I loved it. Menyz colours once more, while the talented. Joe Caramagna letters, as he does the whole issue.

Marvel stalwart Mark Brooks provides an impressive cinema-style poster cover showcasing the extended cast. Have you ever seen such a fiery Human Torch? While it’s not classic Johnny, it’s fascinating to look at… Brooks knows what he’s doing.

Having bought it on ComiXology, I don’t actually know how much this comic cost – they’re sneaky that way – but I can say it’s worth the money. This is the Fantastic Four at their best.

24 thoughts on “Fantastic Four #25 review

  1. It does look good. The new uniforms are a step up. Val’s new hair means I can finally tell her from her mother. And I like Reed’s beard, even if a lot of artists apparently can’t draw proper beards.

    Like

  2. What happened to Franklin gutted me. I can’t wait to see more. And the Watcher? What he did is an in canon ability of the Watchers. I think it was Steve Englehart writing Captain Marvel where it was established Watchers die only when they mean to and can come back to life any time they want. Either Uatu wanted a rest so he didn’t undie right away or being forced to die slows them down some…

    Like

  3. Have to say, that bit at the end, where Ben and Alicia are talking about the consequence of home schooling their two new kids, and they reference Franklin and Valeria ‘turning out ok’…and the two next panels are an ego-driven Valeria writing madly on her wall and a massively depressed Franklin…..dang.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thought: I REALLY hope they aren’t setting Valeria up to break bad. But she seems to be heading in the direction of The Maker in at least some degree…. :/

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I loved that. The minute they mentioned home schooling I started worrying about socialisation of the kids, so the ending was perfect. So sad. And these kids are disturbed to start with.

      Like

  4. a lovely issue and eye hope The Fantastix return and Victorious gets more development and that Ben Alicia and their 2 lovely children have a spinoff akin to Marvel Two-In-One

    Like

  5. Being a “Beardie” myself I guess I’ll cast an admittedly biased vote for keeping bearded Reed. I like it. It gives him personality. I’m also thinking, the artist definitely used actor John Krasinski as the model for Reed. It’s been that way for awhile now, but that one panel you gave as an example REALLY looks like Krasinski. There’s long been rumors he and his wife Emily Blunt might/could/should be cast in a new FF movie, and I’d be all for that myself.
    Back to the issue, nice to see Franklin age. How weird was it (even though this is comics we’re talking about) where he aged once every 5-6/maybe 7 years, if that throughout the entire 50-year existence of the FF? Still kinda’ weird to see, even though he’s been a teen since, what 2015? 2014? Or whenever Hickman took over, so 2011? Point is it’s nice to FINALLY see some age progression.
    Speaking of FINALLY, Ben and Alicia getting finally getting married is a nice touch. Going the adoption route sounds pretty much on par for those two, especially since one has to assume the conventional method of getting kids might be out of the question for those two. Then again Kruger and Ross did it in Earth X and no one seemed to question that back then either. I guess we’ll see how it all turns out later.

    Awww Nick Fury, the REAL Nick Fury returns. Original Sin was such utter shit, seeing as how it was just a bad way for Marvel to move the MU closer to looking like the MCU. Fury deserved better than the hack job he got. Dum Dum too. Maybe a new regime will fix all that. Then again, considering how important the MCU is more and more, especially in regards to the MU, I guess one shouldn’t retain hope to see classic Nick Fury back except in published Epic Collections or reprints.

    Like

  6. I can’t even remember what happened to Dum Dum… was he revealed as a Skrull pretending to be a Life Model Decoy.

    Oh, I like the John K comparison, but I see Reed has made his ears smaller.

    Beards aren’t bad in themselves but I can’t get used to people who have never had one, growing one… I’m still not used to Reed with stubble, and he’s had that for about 600 issues…

    Did you ever read the theory about Franklin running the entire MU. Such fun!

    https://zak-site.com/Great-American-Novel/ff_franklin.html

    Thanks, as ever, for the great comments.

    Like

    1. you are sort of right a Skrull replaced Dugan but Dugan was revealed to be alive and then we learned back in the 60s Dugan suffered a life threatening injury so Fury kept him in a healing tank for decades due to the injuries Severity and Fury used some of his most advanced LMDs connected to Dum Dum’s mind in order to give him some semblance of life and never knew until original sins

      Like

    2. Personally I’m all for WWII characters all having died natural deaths unless they have circumstances like Cap. I think it was the original JSA going away due to New 52 after decades of being in print but the suspension of disbelief is just gone for me. I don’t care how many Ian Karkulls or nine life curses there are, these are centenarians! Even if you don’t age, you’d be mentally one hundred and world weary!

      Like

  7. yup comics be crazy also Dugan’s injury was not revealed until New Avengers AIM vs SHIELD arc which took place during Civil War II

    Like

    1. If Huntara ever comes back, I want her given a real name. Can you really see Nathaniel putting up with a stupid given name like that? The only way they could make it worse is by doing the same thing they did with the Unhumans’ names. ‘It’s short for Huntarabelle’

      Like

  8. Great review, Mart! Though put me down as pro-beard.

    And your drawing attention to Sue’s floating tablet made me do look up whether invisible hands would be able to operate a touchscreen. And yes, probably they can — it’s about the finger creating a circuit with the screen, and unrelated to the finger being visible. I learn something new every day!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.