Current Reviews


Fantastic Four #542

Posted: Thursday, January 18, 2007
By: Shawn Hill

“We Used to Go to Hyperspace Just for Donuts”

Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artists: Mike McKone (p), Lanning and Smith (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot: Johnny tries to heal the breach in the team, stopping in on both Reed and Ben. Reed (who only stops short of arresting Johnny out of family loyalty) needs something from the Mad Thinker.

Comments: McDuffie continues his winning streak from Beyond!, though now he can’t stay as continuity and Civil War-free as he did on that outerspace romp. He takes the same tack JMS did towards Reed’s role in Civil War, a role that has destroyed his loyal team and alienated him from everyone in his family save his children.

McDuffie also keeps up a funny stream of repartee, capturing the prancing daredevil side of Johnny in a wistful opening coffee shop scene, and later when he and Reed make a proposal to the Thinker.

Ben’s having adventures of his own in Paris, but Johnny clearly hasn’t given up on getting the family back together.

The weakest part of the issue is when Reed reveals the calculations that have led him inescapably to the conclusion that Civil War is the way to go, as such calculations are so obtuse and baroque they might as well be magic, or “because I said so.” McDuffie lives up to the JMS legacy by giving some good pop psychology explanations (mostly from the mouth of a dryly humorous Thinker) for the current estrangement in the family, but it still doesn’t make sense because Reed is incapable of convincing us of his point with nothing more than handwaving, which Sue skewers immediately once she hears it.

There’s a funny tone to this issue, gallows humor amidst the ruins, but that alone raises the book above the crude muck of the Civil War itself. And McKone’s art, especially in the mostly low-key discussion scenes, is full of humanistic detail and pleasing spatial clarity. So much good here, but the book is in a holding pattern waiting to get back to an actual story that makes sense.

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