Fantastic Force #1

A comic review article by: Dan Hill

Back in the late 90's there was a British TV series called Ultraviolet. Starring (amongst others) a pre-The Wire Idris Elba, the series followed a paramilitary team who were battling a world vampire conspiracy. The series was unlike anything else on British TV at the time, and the standard of writing and direction was high. The writer/creator of the series was Joe Ahearne. Since then, Ahearne has gone on to a number of director and writing gigs, including episodes of the new Doctor Who.

It was this that piqued my interest upon seeing the credits for this first issue of Fantastic Force - the issue marking Ahearne's debut not only with Marvel, but comics as a whole. The current iteration of Fantastic Force are fairly new to comics themselves, having debuted in Mark Millar's current run on Fantastic Four.

The basic set-up involves the team arriving from the future on a new world, a synthetic one that has been created for the elite and rich by a man named Ted Castle. However, the Fantastic Force don't arrive on this world alone, bringing with them a large number of refugees, something that does not please Castle.

The team itself is made up of the Hooded Man (the Wolverine of the future, several hundred years after the "Old Man Logan" story-line), Banner Jr. (body and strength of the hulk with a Reed Richard's level intelligence), Lightwave (an alien and former super-villain with light/energy based powers), Psionics (daughter of Lightwave and proficient in telekinesis), Natalie X (the most powerful telepath from the future) and Alex Ultron (a descendant of the classic Avenger's villain).

Ahearne does a good job of setting up the dynamic between the various team members and their individual quirks. Take Ultron for instance: an android who is in a relationship with a human (Natalie X), yet one who has a distinct xenophobia for aliens as a whole. This in turn not only makes Alex a bit of a contradiction but adds friction to the team, especially with Lightwave. Another example would be the father/son relationship between the Hooded Man and Banner Jr. The pairing makes for some interesting character moments, the Hooded man trying to encourage Banner Jr. to embrace his animalistic side more often.

Whilst the character and team dynamics in the book are top notch, the story itself is nothing special in this first issue. Instead the issue concentrates on setting up a status quo for the team going forward. While this is necessary, not much happens plot wise. It'll be interesting to see what Ahearne does in the forthcoming issues where he will be able to combine plot and character in a less restricted way. Also, some of the panels are practically bursting with the amount of text contained within them, an indication that Ahearne is trying to say too much in the very little space given him. However, being new to the medium I imagine this is a problem that will begin to disappear as the story progresses.

This is a solid first issue with a lot of potential, not only for the Fantastic Force themselves but Ahearne and Kurth whose style is suitably reminiscent of Bryan Hitch's. A good first effort for the T.V writer.

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