In his best mainstream superhero work, Mark Millar always writes stories that bridge a perfect gap between classic and modern, and his “Fantastic Four” run is no exception. They answer questions you can’t believe no one’s asked yet. What would it take to kidnap Galactus? Why wouldn’t Johnny Storm hook up with a supervillain? Didn’t Reed Richards date anyone in college?
This latest storyline is no exception, closing as it does with The Invisible Woman’s funeral, emceed, naturally, by Susan Richards. While not a single punch or laser beam is thrown in the entire issue, it is not without its strengths. Millar is really good at writing the Fantastic Four as a fairly high profile family, struggling with the things that other families deal with (mostly). It’s an engaging read from a character perspective. His run has always been one.
Bryan Hitch also does a great job here. While different in tone from their work on “The Ultimates,” Hitch never skimps on the detail. On this book, however, it’s used to illustrate the depth of the wild-eyed super science that surrounds the Fantastic Four wherever they turn. He also draws a mean crowd shot filled to the brim with Super Cameos.
The book ends with two equally dramatic cliff hangers, one personal and one galactic. Ben Grimm’s budding relationship with a teacher is actually the most interesting one, as Millar is daring enough to write the couple as just two people in love. No weary symbolism involving blind women and true inner beauty. And that’s what makes Ben popping the question so interesting. One wonders whether or not Millar will be able to contain himself and just keep everything normal. Bendis’ introduction of Milla during his “Daredevil” run was a similarly captivating gambit. Superlives are much more interesting when completely normal people get so closely involved in them.
The second one involves a mysterious and universe-scale threat that will undoubtedly tear everything down around its ears. It’s a shame, but I sense that it’s supposed to be. We’re supposed to be a bit comfortable in all this normalcy, so that when something wipes it all away, we miss it.