Anghus Houvouras reviews the first two issues of Marvel NOW!’s FF…
“In the Fantastic Four’s absence, a hand-picked substitute squad—Ant-Man, Medusa, She-Hulk and Miss Thing—must guard Earth and the fledgling Future Foundation for four minutes. What could go wrong?“
I love a good comic book that isn’t afraid to not take itself too seriously. Mike Allred has spent much of his career on funny books that are based in the traditional superhero universe but have their own particular quirks. If you’ve never read Madman or his extremely morbid and humorous take on X-Force, you’re missing out. His pop art styling and penchant for bizarre stories has served readers well. This tradition of the unconventional continues as Allred has teamed with writer Matt Fraction for a new take on the Fantastic Four in the new Marvel Now! series FF.
FF is an offbeat addendum to the current Fantastic Four series also being written by Matt Fraction. Reed Richards has decided to take his team into another dimension in search of a cure for an illness plaguing the legendary super team. The journey will last a year for the team, but thanks to a nifty loophole in the space time continuum, they’ll only be gone for four minutes. In order to protect the Future Foundation and the 13 gifted children in their care, Reed decides to recruit a replacement team to step up for four minutes, or longer should something go terribly wrong.
The first issue sees Reed recruiting Scott Lang aka Ant-Man to take over in his absence. Lang has recently lost his daughter, and Reed is smart enough to see the potential of teaming up an ailing parent with children in need of guidance. Each member of the team has to select a replacement. Sue Storm asks the Inhuman Goddess Medusa to fill in. The Thing gets former member She Hulk to join up. And the Human Torch asks his girlfriend pop singer Darla Deering to help fill out the roster.
After assembling the team, Reed and company take off for another dimension. Soon after their departure the Mole Man shows up with a familiar gigantic monster and the new F.F. has to step up and save the day. Their first adventure doesn’t exactly go according to plan, but they get the job done.
The real strength of FF is the characters. The series thus far plays like a great, awkward comedy of errors with a great cast of well intentioned heroes and dynamic secondary characters. The entire enterprise has the same feel of off beat super groups like The Great Lakes Avengers, and there’s a comedic sensibility that reminded me a lot of Futurama. There are jokes peppered on every page and great subtle character moments.
Scott Lang / Ant-Man makes a great lead character. He lacks the confidence of his peers and his leadership skills are suspect. Watching him try to explain his checkered past to a bunch of kids or deal with the tabloids is the kind of stuff that makes FF so unique, and so readable. The other reason to read this book is Mike Allred’s stunning art. The pictures pop off the page.
Much like the latest Avengers re-launch, FF has done a masterful job of establishing characters and delivering an entertaining story. While it may not be a traditional Marvel comic, FF is a prime example of a series firing on all cylinders. Exceptional art, great characterization, and a creative team not afraid to get a little crazy.
Hands down the best new book of 2012.