"N-Zone, Two of Six"
Writer: Warren Ellis
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As the Fantastic Four prepare to embark on an exploratory mission into the N-Zone, we see Johnny & Sue's father makes an appearance to express his objection to the idea of his children going on such a dangerous mission. However, Sue is able to convince him it's for the best, and we see the four young heroes spend the rest of the issue getting ready, as they secure their transportation, give it an awesome name, and as the issue ends the Fantastic Four cross the dimensional barrier into the N-Zone.
I fully understand the fact that having the team passing through the dimensional barrier to enter the N-Zone makes for the ideal cliff-hanger moment, and I do believe if one looks back at my review for the previous issue, I made mention of the idea that I wouldn't be surprised if this issue was devoted entirely the preparation for the journey. However, while the opening half of this issue does a wonderful job of introducing the little questions that are normally skipped past when heroes prepare to embark on such a journey, the second half of the issue suffers from the same malaise that inflicted "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", in that the people involved become so invested in selling the audience on a wondrous spectacle that they look to have completely forgotten to include a story. However, while the first Star Trek film can be excused for their excesses because it was the first time the show had made the jump to the big screen, the simple fact is that a trip into another dimension is a pretty common occurrence in comic books, so using half the issue to sell the readers on the wonder of the idea felt far too much like a writer stalling for time. Now perhaps Warren Ellis is trying to bring back a sense of wonder to the idea by investing so many pages on such a simple moment, but while I'm a life long fan of the Fantastic Four largely because they are one of the only teams that regularly make journeys like this, this extended focus instilled more a sense of annoyance rather than wonder. Still there is a great sequence where we see Sue and Johnny's father expresses doubts about his children making this journey, and the name that Johnny gives to the shuttle combined with Sue's reaction to it made me smile.
Adam Kubert does the best he can with this issue, as he does manage to convey the proper sense of wonder into the second half of the issue, as he's called upon to deliver a number of splash page images of the shuttle, and the launching platform that will allow the Fantastic Four to make their journey into the great unknown. The art also does some nice work on the opening moments as the four discuss their impending journey, as I loved the reaction shot that details Johnny's reaction to the voyage into the N-Zone, or the panel where Ben makes it clear that he doesn't care much for the new code name that Johnny has given him. There's also a cute visual moment where Ben expresses his opinion of the name Reed gave his flying car, and the collective reaction shot to the shuttle's name really sold the gag. I do hold out some hope that the N-Zone will become more visually interesting than it currently stands though.
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