Editor's Note: Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #2 arrives in stores tomorrow, June 18.
Plot: Stranded in the Negative Zone in a chunk of the Baxter Building, Ben, Franklin and Valeria cope with various beastly invaders while Johnny tries to sort out an old flame.
Comments: The Skrulls were first introduced as Fantastic Four villains, and they still blame the Foursome for most of their woes. So it makes sense that the FF's home becomes a significant battlefront of the Secret Invasion. Though whether we're seeing skirmishes or the big show in this off-shoot title remains to be seen.
The author has written Fantastic Four titles before, and his experience shows as he nails all of their family dynamics. Johnny the immature hothead is a bit of a tiresome cliché, but the only person who ever found a different mode for him was Alan Davis in a future imaginary story. Here at least Aguirre-Sacasa emphasizes his best quality, which is the potential for emotional empathy that's the flipside of his impetuous rages.
It turned out the Skrull-Sue that sabotaged the team was none other than Lyja, who has betrayed Johnny and the team before as Skrull-Alicia. Only it's more complicated than that, which Johnny proves almost immediately (after a rather unsympathetic inventory of his failed lady loves).
The tell-tale sign that this story is not central is that Sue and Reed are out of the picture (though Lyja confirms they're not dead). We've seen stories hinging on Ben and Johnny before. But the signs that this one might matter are hiring the solid Barry Kitson for art (his Negative Zone creatures are especially inventive) and including Franklin and Valeria in major (if precocious) roles. In fact, it's the two kids who come up with the plot for next issue, which involves (precocious) knowledge of "dad's" Negative Zone prison. This is a story element I was afraid might be dropped like a hot potato post-Civil War, but here it is again in the new crossover, and with the Richards' clan involved, it may even (finally) be put to good use.
While not blown away by this series thus far, I've found that each issue has offered its fair share of surprises and quality storytelling. Maybe you just can't go wrong with the FF, the Negative Zone, and little green (wo)men.
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