Fantastic Four #1
The first family of comics, the Fantastic Four was the first big hit of Marvel Comics. The elastic genius Mister Fantastic, his wife the mistress of an unseen force the Invisible Woman, the eternally youthful and rebellious Human Torch and the monstrous Thing. Like most anyone in my generation I knew of the Fantastic Four through numerous cartoons and the like but really became a fan when I borrowed some issues off my brother (broke into his room) and read the John Byrne run. It blew my mind. I had read his work with Claremont on X-Men, but it seemed that the wheels came off for Byrne on the FF. Since then, I have been endlessly hopeful to see the series live up to its moniker ‘World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.’
There are many readers who are much more well-versed in the legacy of the Fantastic Four than I and are familiar with the fluctuating quality and different directions that the series has undergone. The group has been defined by its family status as well as the outlandish ideas and space opera meets fantasy plots. There have been many high watermarks over the years, but in my opinion the previous run by Jonathan Hickman redefined the comic. As such, I was nervous about a new creative team coming in, even when it is Matt Fraction who has made Iron Man, the Defenders, Hawkeye and more must-read titles.
The Marvel Now Fantastic Four is a fresh start that picks up from where the previous series dropped off. In Hickman’s Fantastic Four, Reed Richards’ father arrived from his journeys through space/time to help guide the family through a particularly tough patch. In the revamped title, there is a mixture of family bonding and holding secrets. Reed Richards has discovered that his genetically altered biology is decaying and he cannot fix the problem. Rather than tell his family about this, he announces a massive family trip into the unknown aboard a massive craft operating as a classroom for the Future Foundation. However, Reed’s son Franklin has dreamed of a nightmarish vision that he has also kept from the others. Leaving the Earth to the protection of a new FF (who will later premier in their own series), the family once more steps into the mysteries of space and time.
In the added AR material, Fraction is brimming with enthusiasm for what should be the coolest, most exciting and innovative comic on the stands. You can see his excitement in every panel as the team exhibits their trademark personalities while also making it feel fresh and new. I have to admit to not being excited by Mark Bagley’s artwork in the past, but pairing him with Mark Farmer brings out the strengths in Bagley’s pencils.
For a first issue, there is not too much to get worked up over, but I am very happy to see that Fraction’s Fantastic Four will be an extension of what has come before. The future looks very promising.