With "Fantastic Four" having returned with #600, some of you might think that "FF" (which subbed in for "Fantastic Four" #589-599 as "FF" #1-11) might go away. Don't be silly. The book named after the group's Future Foundation is sticking around, and overall, that's a good thing. The group of kids the team was mentoring is a great mixture, and I'm glad that they aren't getting shuffled into the background.
Reading "FF" #12, though, it's immediately evident why they didn't change the book's name to "Future Foundation" or start the numbering back over, as it's picking up directly from the events of "Fantastic Four" #600 (which of course was lead into by "FF" #11). Here, we get to see where Valeria teleported the top three floors of the Baxter Building, and also have our first glimpses of just what Valeria and Nathaniel have been plotting over the course of the last year.
The plotting from Jonathan Hickman is fun, if dense. New readers are most likely going to be lost, with Hickman plowing ahead into stories involving secret alliances, time-travel prophecies, and alternate universe Reed Richards. He doesn't attempt to explain what's going on for new readers, so while it's a bit impenetrable to them in places, it does amusingly enough serve as a good advertisement for "FF" #1-11. I had hoped that we'd get to see a lot more of the kids now that the adults are all shuffled off the stage for now, but the book is still primarily focusing on Valeria, although Alex and Franklin are at least getting some moments, and there's a bit or two where the rest of the kids get to share a joke.
For those who have read "FF" #1-11 and "Fantastic Four" #600, though, this is the beginning of a big payoff; don't think that you can just shift over to "Fantastic Four" and be done. (I'm half-surprised the book didn't become "Fantastic Four" #600.5, it's so closely linked to the parent title.) It's nice to see the hints of a resolution for these long-term stories, while still hinting that there are larger plot arcs just around the bend. Upcoming issues will make or break the title on how well they're actually resolved, but for now I'm feeling like the script is on the right path.
Less convincing, though, are Juan Bobillo's pencils. His style is interesting, but for a book starring children he's a bad match. None of them actually look like kids; instead, Valeria and company looked like midgets with curiously wrinkled and creased faces. Valeria is the worst offender, with what can only be described as now having a supermodel face, but all of the kids come across badly here. Only Alex Power (who's supposed to be a teenager) looks even close to his age, although even his age appears to shift between teenager and adult depending on the panel. And as for poor Leech, whose normal lack of a nose is even a joke in the script -- except Bobillo decided to give him one -- it makes you wonder if anyone gave Bobillo character designs to work from.
The adult characters at least look all right (although those strange wrinkles and creases are on their faces too), and when it comes to the scenery and buildings in their new destination, Bobillo's pencils are fantastic. When it comes to drawing "FF" it almost makes me wish like there was a second artist on board to draw the characters, and Bobillo (similar to Gerhard's role on "Cerebus") could just draw backgrounds. They're just that good, and they can almost (but not quite) distract you from the disturbing nature of Valeria's pouty lips.
"FF" #12 is an interesting book, if not the most new-reader friendly. Hickman's script is overall good, though; I just wish there was a better choice of an artist to go with it. Bobillo's not bad, he's just not suited for a book primarily starring children. Unless his pencils can adjust to the subject material soon, Marvel is going to need to find someone else for "FF" and quickly.