Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: Greg Land (p), Matt Ryan (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
You gotta love time travel. It's a great story device when used properly. However, when not used properly, it can really mess up a story and be confusing as hell. I'm always a bit apprehensive when I see a story heading into time travel; most writers never quite have a handle on it. So far at least, Millar is showing he knows exactly what he's doing.
Ben Grimm is depressed. But can you blame the guy? He went from being BMOC to a rock. He tries to make the best of it. He tries his best to be a super-hero, but it backfires. He doesn't want to go out and celebrate Johnny's birthday, but he does. Unfortunately, Johnny uses it as an excuse to humiliate him. Now in the “real MU,” this is something of an every day occurrence between Ben and Johnny. They go back and forth playing pranks on one another. However, in the Ultimate Universe, Ben just cannot cope with no longer being human. Every joke, every mistake is magnified. He either wants to be cured or be dead.
Which brings us to the gist of the story: Reed makes the decision to go back in time and stop the mistake that made them super-human. It all makes sense, of course. Change one event and everyone goes back to normal. Simple, no? However, we all know something is going to go wrong…. Wrong in terms that Thor is now President of the United States and Earth's populace is super-powered. We don't know yet how it all happened. All we do know is that whatever Reed did in the past has affected the present. Also, what does the Super Skrull have to do with all of this and why did he try to stop them from changing the past?
What truly makes this story work is the characterization by Millar. I was really feeling sorry for Ben. I was really hoping that by going into the past, Reed was able to reverse it all. Millar was fully able to pull me into the story. Even though this is a different take on the FF of the past 40 or so years, Millar had me hoping that this would be cut and dried. Go back, fix the past, everything is as it “should be.”
Um. No. Not quite.
Damn, Millar. Even after reading countless “Reed cures Ben” stories, I really thought this time that this was it! Of course not…. But Millar did a great job in making it appear that way.
And then there's the art by Greg Land and Matt Ryan. I usually like what Land does, but he's gotten into a bad habit of being too “photo-realistic.” The artwork doesn't flow as it used to, and it's very noticeable. However, he captured perfectly the angst and frustration of the Thing. Land should trust his own skills more often, as he did when he drew those pages with the Thing, and stop using what appears to be “swipes” from photographs when it comes to the rest. He's a much better artist when he does so.
I'm really looking forward to the next two parts of this story. Millar is hitting his stride with this title. And as far as I'm concerned, this is the best Fantastic Four Marvel is producing today.
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