Review: Fantastic Four #1
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Matt Fraction’s Fantastic Four run, so I looked at James Robinson’s volume as a chance to jump back into the adventures of the First Family. Fantastic Four #1 is a good start to the new volume, with some incredibly strong art.
Right away, Robinson sets his run far apart from the volume before. The Fantastic Four are a family first, and Robinson plays that up in Sue’s writing. She’s heartbroken over her family and what has happened to them in the (I guess) near future. I’m not one for showing your hand this soon in a run, but Robinson’s approach works so well that I’m one to not care. Maybe it’s because the futures seem just beyond whom the characters are at moment. I would have enjoyed a recap page at the beginning of the issue, as I was lost on why Valeria is suddenly in Latveria. Besides that hiccup, this is a strong as far as #1s go. We are shown every member of the team, who they are, and how they interact. And even though Johnny is separate for part of the issue, his main objective is family. That is the Fantastic Four in its elemental state.
The voices of the FF are spot on. I’ve recently been reading Mark Waid’s run on Fantastic Four, and the voices remind me a lot of the way Waid wrote them (and Jonathan Hickman). Sue is the glue that holds the family together, even when she is having a tough time. Reed continues to struggle balancing family and science. Ben is a monster who is trying to fit in. Johnny loves money and popularity. These classic character points have been used to death, but feel fresh and new here. There is an air of sadness throughout every line of dialogue that Robinson writes. The family, extended and blood, all seem happy though, which leaves the reader hopeful but sad at the same time. It’s an odd tone to strike, but Robinson writes it evenly.
Fantastic Four has been a bright book as long as I’ve been reading it. This makes Leonard Kirk (pencils), Karl Kesel (inks), and Jesus Aburtov’s (colors) artwork stand out that much more. Fantastic Four #1 is a dark comic. The darkness seeps in gradually through the issue, constantly pecking at the happiness the Fantastic Four are enjoying. Kirk’s pencils fit the grand, epic world the Fantastic Four live in. Fing Fang Foom feels gigantic next to the FF, but it’s easy to tell where everyone is in relation to each other when fighting him. Reader’s can easily feel the pain and confusion Sue is feeling as she talks to Reed about Valeria moving away. The only hiccup I see is the strange face that Franklin makes as he’s talking to Reed and Sue. His face doesn’t look like what we saw the panel before. I loved Alburtov’s colors. The sense of darkness that gradually works its way through really sells the impending doom of the family.
Fantastic Four #1 gets 4/5.