Fantastic Four and Spider-Man are arguably, at their cores, the foundation of the Marvel Universe as we know it. Both properties solidified the House of Ideas as a legitimate player in the comics publishing industry and have since paved the way for where we are today. However the difference between the two properties is that Spider-Man is much more accessible and relatable to the average reader. There have been some really seminal runs on Marvelís first family, but it is an extremely excruciating task in finding a writer who can capture all the facets of the four and make them shine.
Under Jonathan Hickmanís watch the Fantastic Four have gained a writer who has a solid grasp on all of the aspects of the family dynamic and the science behind Reedís genius, which serve as the constant underlying theme of the series, and has managed to incorporate them into the title and infuse it with a new set of legs. The current Three arc has promised to change the status quo of the team by sending one of the four to their death.
This issue primarily focuses on The Thing who by way of Reedís Future Foundation, which is a group of children under Reedís tutelage, has gained access to return to human form for one week per year. Ben goes to Johnny for assistance to basically be his spotter in case something goes wrong. After a humorous sequence which oddly seemed very similar to a scene in the first FF movie Ben reverts to human form and the two teammates hit the town. It is during this particular chain of events where we witness the true camaraderie between the two heroes. The most touching panel though was the one in which the Thing and Torch have an early dinner with friends and those said friends are none other that FF creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Another great scene is when the duo runs into the modern day version of the Yancy Street Gang, who are surprisingly much different than we are accustomed to.
Reed and Susan get some face time as well. Susan heads off to Utopia to meet with the X-Men and Namor. The meet and great upon her arrival with Cyclops and Emma Frost was terrific as the two women clearly hold some animosity towards one another. Could it be due to a certain Namor? When the Sub-Mariner does arrive he makes it abundantly clear that Sue is clearly still the golden ring that is just beyond his grasp. Meanwhile Reed is conducting his normal geek stuff when none other than the Silver Surfer appears and confronts read regarding the deceased Galactus that was buried within the Earth from a recent arc and demands answers for his master who is hovering in the background.
Talk about touching all the bases with this one! Jonathan Hickman kicks such a tremendous amount of ass on this that it just isnít believable! You can literally feel the emotion in every panel on every page between the characters regardless of who they are. Ben and Johnny have always had a sort of relationship where they grate on one another but you know behind that is true love for each other and Hickman nails that perfectly. Susan is a woman who may not admit it but has been continuously torn between her husband and the Prince, Namor. The tension that is felt upon her arrival is so thick and the interaction between her and Emma is as cold as the White Queen herself. His take on the Silver Surfer was friggin fantastic and I demand a Hickman penned Silver Surfer series now!
Then you factor in the gorgeous Steve Epting art to simply add even more life and emotion to the magnificent script and you just have a modern masterpiece. The pencils are so stunningly vivid and each page is truly a feast for the eyes. The story being told in the body language of the pencils is uncannily translated to the page in stunning fashion. You feel every little nuance in the Epting art and this is the best I have seen in from Epting and Fantastic Four in quite some time.
In case you havenít realized it yet, I loved this issue!! Honestly this was the best book I have read in months regardless of the title or the publisher. And that is coming from someone who has never been that big of an FF fan. It all goes back to attaching the right creators to a book and this is definitely with out a doubt the case here with Jonathan Hickman. Every single element that he touched on here was done with extreme love and it is abundantly evident. This issue and title are a must read!
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