Hey Kids, remember back in the Fall of 2012 when Marvel started rolling out new #1 Titles that gave a number of characters in the Marvel U a “Soft Reboot” under the banner MARVEL NOW? Guess What? They’re doin’ it all again, Baby!
It’s the ALL NEW MARVEL NOW! Over the next few months, I’ll be taking a look at the first issue of each new title as it hits the comics stands. (This only applies to REAL #1 Titles – None of this .Now stuff.) Wanna know if this series seems like a keeper or is destined for the quarter bin of our interest? Sit back and enjoy my analysis. You just might learn something.
The Fantastic Four have been an iconic superteam in the world of comics for the past fifty years. But like Superman has struggled to stay relevant to readers both young and old over the years, so too has Reed Richards and his crew. While the series has never been cancelled, it has been revamped and retooled a number of times in recent years. New costumes, new rosters, new dynamics have all been introduced. A-list writers such as Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction have had taken a swing at Marvel’s first family. Some have garnered critical acclaim and even a boost in sales but none have been able to find the winning formula that will sustain the title in the long run. Hence why Marvel has once again decided to relaunch the Fantastic Four with a new number one and new creative team in James Robinson and Leonard Kirk. Will this be the winning combination that Marvel and fans have been waiting for? If the first issue is any indication, I hope so.
The story begins in the near future as Sue Storm is writing a letter to her children, Franklin and Valeria. I’m guessing this is a precautionary measure in case she never gets to speak with them again. In the letter, she briefly refers to the current state of the team – Reed’s in a scientific slump, The Thing’s in jail and Johnny Storm is taking celebrity partying to the next level. The family’s in bad shape. How did they get there? Sue begins to explain this as she thinks back to a recent mission when the team was still functioning in one piece. They’ve got to stop Fin Fang Foom, the giant lizard who they’ve had more than a few run ins with, from destorying the city. After a rough start, they get it together and work as a team to stop the threat. Everything is awesome, but Reed’s not so sure. Back at the Baxter Building, everything seems to be normal. Sue’s still dealing with Valeria’s decision not to live them anymore but Franklin and the rest of the kids from the Future Foundation are all happy and doing the crazy things that genius kids do. The Human Torch is exploring avenues of fame and fortune with his agent. Thing is finally getting to reconnect with Alicia Masters in hopes to restore their relationship. Everything appears right in the world……so of course things are about to go horribly wrong.
As far as first issues go, Fantastic Four #1 had everything you wanted. There was action, character development, an interesting plot set up and enough story to leave the reader with all the right questions. Questions that will make them want to come back and find the answers. When left to his own devices, James Robinson is best at presenting believable and interesting characters. You think you might know all there is to know about a character until Robinson shows you something you never saw before. Time will tell if he does that with this book (I’m guessing he will by what transpires over the first few pages of this issue). What he does here is reintroduce you to characters you’ve always known and showcases them for what they’re known for. Sue is the strong matriarch who cares for her family deeply and will do anything to protect them. Reed is always striving for the answers to every mystery. Johnny is flashy and fun. Ben Grimm is the loveable softy, the strong monster who just wants to be loved. This is the FF that we know and love. Robinson reminds us what we like about these characters before he brings the walls down around them…..at least that’s what’s implied here with the last few panals. After recent stories involving going to other dimensions and the far reaches of space, it’s nice to read a story that presents the team in familiar environments. The best way to describe the issue would be to compare it to “comfort food” – It’s what you expect but you can’t help but enjoy it.
The comfort continues with some solid art from Kirk and crew. The pace is exciting, the characters are beautifully rendered and the nuance is there to sell the more tender and quiet moments. While most of the composition is simplistic in it’s design, Kirk does a great job of making the characters and environments vibrant and full of life. Inker Karl Kesel and Colorist Jesus Aburtov have a huge assist in providing this vibrantness. The art team appears to be firing on all cylinders as there’s never a slow moving or dull moment. The costume redesigns have just enough newness to them to make them stand out but garner a great deal of that “classic” feel. I question the choice of red as the uniform colour but whatever, I’ll get used to it. I like red.
If you’re looking for a book that screams classic superhero adventure, Fantastic Four #1 is worth your time. It’s obvious that Robinson, Kirk and company have a great deal of passion for the work they are presenting here and I believe that this will be evident throughout the rest of their run…..which I hope is long and fruitful.
Check back here for more ALL NEW MARVEL NOW first issue reviews. Until then, stay in the NOW!
If you’re gonna geek out GEEK HARD!