"Fantastic Four" #611 brings Jonathan Hickman's master plan for the first family of the Marvel Universe to a close. As has become the new standard for this comic book series under Hickman's watch, this issue is entertaining and innovative.
A few issues back, Victor von Doom came into possession of not one, but two Infinity Gauntlets. "Fantastic Four" #611 wraps up the results of that story in spectacular fashion. Hickman describes the actions Doom takes to create a universe in his image through caption boxes while artists Ryan Stegman and Paul Mounts punctuate those thoughts with imagery that defines the stark, intimidating results of Doom's creativity. Swirling concepts of science and magic glow upon the page as Doom calls them into being. The visual collaboration between writer and artist pushes the dimensions of the paper while delivering information to define Doom's abilities.
Throughout "Fantastic Four" #611, Stegman's artwork is packed with energy. I've made comparisons between the vibrancy in his style and the energy found in notebook doodles. Nowhere is that more evident than the attacking leviathan surrounded by Doom's disciples as Nathan, Reed and Future Valeria attempt to rescue Doom from his created universe. Stegman employs multiple art styles across the issue, using a darker, edgier look for scenes featuring Doom. There are spots where the two styles connect to become a magnificent celebration of Stegman's abilities as an artist, making me wish we had a little more time to see Stegman continue to explore the universe surrounding Reed Richards and family.
Hickman's run on "Fantastic Four" has re-captured the spirit of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's original works while adding depth to the places and people the legendary creators once introduced. Adding almost as much to the Marvel Universe as he enhanced, Jonathan Hickman took a title that could barely find a steady audience and made it a spectacle that comic readers sought out, celebrated and shared. This issue is a marvelous sample of what Hickman did the whole way through: everything is familiar enough to be comfortable and strange enough to be exciting.
As a fitting conclusion, there's a text piece from Hickman at the end of the book that includes his quest to regain the tagline "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine." Hickman and company were bold and definitive in their quest to regain that honor and this issue is further testimony that they have gained it back. I'm not sure what Matt Fraction has planned for the relaunch, but the legacy Hickman leaves with "Fantastic Four" is undeniably impressive.