What an absolutely charming comic book.
So the Thing’s longtime girlfriend Alicia has a new boyfriend. Ben, naturally, is jealous, so when he gets a chance to take Alicia out on a date for her birthday, he imagines all kinds of grandiose ideas. After each idea is shot down as unexciting, Ben hits upon an idea that only he could deliver for Alicia: a trip to ancient Greece. Naturally, things don’t turn out quite as planned and wacky hijinks ensue. Eventually, though, everything works out in the end. Or does it?
This comic has the feel of a good sitcom in the middle of its run. The characters are fun, lively, and three-dimensional, while the plot grows organically out of the characters themselves. Like all great sitcoms, the cast of Fantastic Four is like a family, and the charm of the story grows out of the reader’s familiarity and comfort with the family. The readers share Ben’s apprehension and frustration with Alicia dating a newcomer. Who is this Arlo and what right does he have to come between the classic couple of Ben and Alicia? Sure, Arlo seems nice, but he’s different. He’s an outsider. He has no right to steal Ben’s girl, even if he is honest and good and forthright and frankly probably a better match for Alicia than Ben is. No matter. The classic structure must be maintained, and Ben has to win Alicia back in the end.
Slott delivers the perfect sort of plot for this story, full of humor and charm and good cheer. Hercules and Lockjaw both appear – they’re as much a part of the extended family as Jerry’s Uncle Leo is in Seinfeld – and each has very funny bits of business to perform.
It really is a shame that this comic has hovered under the radar and is about to be cancelled. In the hands of Slott (and very professional cartoonist Kieron Dwyer, who does a very solid job on the art), this is the sort of light-hearted but intelligent fun that is increasingly hard to find from the Big Two. There’s no Civil War here.