While discussing “Fantastic Four” and “FF” with one of my pals recently, he said that Jonathan Hickman’s work reads much better when collected, so he has begun to trade-wait the collections of the adventures of Marvel’s First Family. Bummer for him.
While I cannot argue that Hickman’s work doesn’t read well when collected, I can make the argument that this is exactly the type of thing I used to love when I read comics as a kid. The issue ends – just ends – leaving you clutching a cliffhanger, flipping pages and making sure some didn’t fall out somewhere. This issue, the fourth of the “relaunch,” puts the Future Foundation on the trail of the quartet of errant Reed Richardses that Valeria inadvertently brought into the Marvel Universe. The best way to stop Reed Richards? With his worst foes.
As “our” Reed and his father consult with the gathered braintrust of the High Evolutionary, Doctor Doom, the Mad Thinker, and the Wizard to determine the best way to end the machinations of the four other Reeds, Hickman treats the reader to just what those machinations are. In gathering these foes – and more – Hickman has made this book a valid case study in what makes the Fantastic Four so, well, fantastic.
Joining Hickman on this issue is Barry Kitson, who brings his trademark crisp, clean artwork to the adventures of multiple Reeds. Kitson’s work is enveloping in detail, inviting the reader to just try and touch the pages as quite possibly, they might actually have some texture. This is aided by Paul Mounts’ masterful application of color, patterns, and styles. The characters in this book don’t float through this book, nor are they propped up against faux backgrounds. These characters move through this book, walking and breathing in the atmosphere generated within each and every panel. Kitson’s work might be a little more cartoony than Steve Epting’s work, but for this issue, it’s a welcome variation. Kitson does a splendid job of playing up the emotions that Hickman provides these characters, from the Thing’s frustration to Invisible Woman’s shock.
“FF” might be a decent read in collected form, but I personally cannot wait that long to enjoy more adventures of this group as told by Jonathan Hickman.