Our cosmic ray detectors go wild as Marvel’s first family finally returns to comics.
released OUT NOW! Publisher Marvel Comics
Writer dan slott Artists sara Pichelli, Nico leon
Superhero absences aren’t all that uncommon, but for the last few years Marvel’s “First Family” have been an especially odd case. Despite being the characters who launched the Marvel superhero revolution in the ’60s, the Fantastic Four ended up struggling sales-wise following the 2012 departure of writer Jonathan Hickman, and the comic was cancelled in 2015, with the team itself being forcibly split up after the reality-altering Secret Wars saga in 2016.
Since then, the fate of Reed and Sue Richards (along with their children) has remained a mystery, and while Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm have acted as supporting characters elsewhere, it’s only now that the Fantastic Four are making their official return.
This new series features long-time Spider-Man writer Dan Slott at the helm, and has the tricky task of giving new and lapsed readers a fresh jumping-on point, while additionally dealing with the convoluted, multi verse related threads left hanging by Secret Wars.
The story picks up with Johnny and Ben living down-to-earth lives and still trying to get used to the idea that the Fantastic Four no longer exists. However, they’re unexpectedly summoned across the multiverse by Reed and Sue into a confrontation with the Griever, a bizarrely sexed-up representative of entropy and destruction who’s out to kill all the new universes that Reed and Sue’s son Franklin has created.
This naturally leads to a big superhero fight, and while Slott does his level best to hit all the traditional FF touchstones – the family squabbles, the cosmic adventure, pranks from the Yancy Street kids – he can’t prevent these three opening issues from feeling massively overstuffed. The stakes go from zero to universeshattering within a couple of pages; the Griever is a weird, unconvincing choice for an opening villain; and there are so many characters to reintroduce (including the entire cast of the Future Foundation spin-off series) that the storytelling is largely a haphazard jumble.
Slott undoubtedly gets the interplay between the main characters right, and provides some heartwarming moments, while Sara Pichelli’s well-executed art shows off her expert handling of expression and characterisation, but the end result feels weighed down by the FF’s comics history to an extent that’s frustrating. It’s possible that some of these teething troubles may resolve themselves now that this three-part adventure has sorted out the baggage from past storylines, but so far this latest Fantastic Four incarnation is off to an inconsistent and rather unsatisfying start. Saxon Bullock
Slott can’t prevent these three issues from feeling overstuffed
Ben couldn’t help telegraphing his fighting moves.