March 3, 2014

Marvel Reviews: Fantastic Four #1

FFagain1Fantastic Four #1
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Cover: Leonard Kirk & Laura Martin

The Fantastic Four are back again for the first time…again! This series is only coming out after what seems to be a little over a year after the last relaunch of the title. So you’re probably wondering what’s the reason for this restart back to number one. Is it to capitalize on the upcoming film release? Is there someone at Marvel with a fear of really big numbers? Is there an intern that keeps hitting the reset button? Well, for whatever the reason this issue happened, this very skeptical reviewer was actually impressed with the finished product.

Robinson’s story is one that begins at a very dark place. Sue is writing a letter to her daughter, and we are treated to several glimpses of where the team members are at now. Each one suffering in their own hell and dealing with whatever it is, and then the ominous title page appears reading: “The Fall Of The Fantastic Four.” From here begins the events that will eventually lead up to Johnny drowning his sorrows at a night club, Ben in prison, Reed at an impasse, and Sue on the verge of a breakdown. Robinson does everything right with this issue from the huge battle with Fin Fang Foom to the kids attempting to convince their parents to allow Bently to continue making his death-by-chocolate ray! Masterfully, the lighter moments are balanced with the looming dark tone that foreshadows what’s going to happen.

This issue is also very accessible to anyone who may not have been reading the previous Fantastic Four series. Robinson doesn’t spend too much time recapping much of anything that happened there, opting to push the events in this issue to the forefront. There also aren’t any drastic character changes or gimmicks to make the issue stand out. Robinson delivers the heart of who the Fantastic Four have always been through some very emotional and page turning story telling.

As far as the art is concerned, Leonard Kirk needs to stay on this title until The Thing gets a new catch phrase! Along with Karl Kesel’s inks and Jesus Aburtov’s colors this is a very good looking title from start to finish. The new costume designs are a fantastic (no pun intended) update on the classic costumes. Especially the way Reed and Sue’s colors are inverted, and sure it’s a small thing, but it’s a subtle coloring choice that makes the difference. There’s some very good work during the hectic battle sequences with Fin Fang Foom that stay consistently well drawn. During Reed and Sue’s more intense and emotional moments, Kirk nails every panel and kicks Robinson’s script to another level. Most of that is due to the expressiveness of the characters and the nice amount of detail that fills the panels.

All in all, Fantastic Four #1 is a first issue that impressed this skeptical reader who had given up on this team years ago. Robinson and Kirk’s effort here warrants a look from anyone who might be on the fence about this, and might even snag a new reader or two. And most important, it’s fun!

Till next time!

Infinite Speech



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