There are some team-ups that never fail to elicit glee from long-time comics fans. Wolverine and Hulk. Superman and Batman. And, of course, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. The properties all have long histories with one another, so when they share an issue, expectations are always high -– and that goes double for this story, which features one of the first meetings of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four since the events of Brand New Day.
One of the questions that arose following Brand New Day, in fact, centered on exactly how Spider-Man’s secret identity got put back under wraps, and who knew it –- with particular emphasis on Spidey’s friends, such as Daredevil and Johnny Storm. Readers found out about Daredevil fairly early on, but exactly how much Storm knows has remained a mystery. Until now. The answer isn’t quite as straightforward as it might seem.
Dan Slott has been arguably the most consistent Spider-Man writer since the move to thrice-monthly shipping was completed, and having previously written a Spider-Man/Human Torch miniseries, it’s fitting that he handles this mini-arc. Having proven he can write a good Spidey, Slott now auditions himself for Fantastic Four, opting to pen a classic F4 tale of adventure and exploration that simply happens to have Spider-Man in.
While the character interplay and dialogue are Slott’s strong points (never more evident than in his Torch/Spidey banter) he also shows he’s not above some old-school Stan Lee-style plotting as the 5 heroes hop in Reed’s latest experimental craft and visit the “Macroverse.” Complementing Slott’s writing, Kitson’s art has a clean, classic look well-suited to both the F4 and Spider-Man, and that itself makes the flashback portions of the story (which reference a previously unseen team-up) fit just that extra little bit better.
If there’s any problem with the issue, it’s in the structure, which ends on not one, but two cliffhangers –- both of which are immediately predictable. Now, in fairness, it’s difficult to end every issue on something that’ll excite jaded, grown-up fans, but it’s a brave writer indeed who ends on two cliffhangers that anyone over the age of 12 could predict the resolution for. There’s the chance Slott will throw a curveball and bring something unexpected to the next issue, but more likely he’s just going to pick up the story seamlessly, so that it reads fine without a break when it gets collected. That, at least, is forgivable, and thankfully the issue isn’t too marred overall.