“Solve Everything: Part Two” brings us the Reed Richards of Earth 616 talking with his dimensional counterparts about joining their group of universal do-gooders. Our Reed sees the extradimensional Reeds’ greatest and worst achievements as part of his process of deciding whether to join his counterparts. As the Reed of Universe 12498 asks our Reed, “It’s time for you to decide, Reed. Do you want to play super-hero for the rest of your life… or do you want to join us and solve everything?”
I really love the concept behind this storyline because it feels so right and appropriate for this character, this comic and this era.
It fits the character because, as Reed’s father tells him this issue, there’s nothing that the man can’t do. He’s not just the foremost scientific genius on the Earth; Reed is the greatest scientific genius across a number of universes. He’s not just smart; he’s insanely smart, transcendently smart, so smart that he has to feel lost in a world of men and women who don’t think on nearly the same level as him.
It fits the comic because this storyline looks to be a gateway to larger events. The storyline this issue spans several universes and types of menaces. That fits the spirit of Stan ‘n’ Jack’s take on this series while also honoring the work of the creators who have come after them. Fantastic Four has always been all about transcending the ordinary and exploring the cosmic. FF is the archetypical “large canvas” comic, and this storyline looks like it will walk that same territory.
It fits the current era because we’ve come to expect and even love enormous, universe-spanning stories. It’s become part of our global zeitgeist to read stories that span multiple dimensions; the idea is no longer an exotic concept for hardcore comic geeks, but has now found its way into other media and even casual conversations.
But what’s also intriguing about this storyline is a sense that Reed’s own destruction lies with his hubris over the events of this issue. Fantastic Four has always anchored its cosmic scale with an emphasis on the family unit. Reed may be the greatest genius in many universes, but his brilliance is also anchored in his familial relationship with Sue, Ben, Johnny and his kids. Now that there are signs that Reed is estranging himself from his wife and kids, it has to make me wonder if Reed is overreaching himself and will end up with an untethered morality.
Jonathan Hickman has delivered a wonderful take on the FF, nicely balancing interior drama with cosmic confrontation. I was impressed how adept Hickman was in this issue at showing both small family scenes – Reed leaving his and Sue’s bed, Reed ignoring his family at breakfast – with large cosmic scenes – battling Galactus and Doctor Doom.
I really enjoyed Dale Eaglesham’s art in this issue. The opening two-page spread with the Reeds battling Galactus is a dramatic keynote for the issue, while his depiction of familiar chaos around the breakfast table is equally as interesting. Even the scene of Reed and Sue ignoring each other over cereal was interesting, full of wonderful facial expressions that effectively convey the emotions of the characters without telegraphing their feelings.
I do have to echo the complaints of many reviewers of the previous issue about how overly-muscled the male characters look. Johnny’s biceps are way too large in this issue. It’s easy to imagine Johnny as a gym rat, which would give him massive biceps, but there’s nothing in the script to imply that the Torch lives at the gym. On the other hand, Eaglesham draws an absolutely beautiful Sue Storm. This may be the most gorgeous Sue we’ve ever seen.
Hickman and Eaglesham have begun a clever and interesting storyline that shows the promise of becoming something quite special.