Matt Fraction has taken over Marvel’s first family’s series. The Fantastic Four have always been more about family and adventure than heroism, and Fraction makes that perfectly clear in his first issue. While this is mostly a setup issue for his run’s premise, there’s still plenty of heart invested into each of the four FF members. Unfortunately, there are problems as well.
Let’s talk about the good first. This comic does a great job at introducing potential new readers to Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman. Mr. Fantastic is clearly demonstrated as the scientific genius of the family, while Invisible Woman is portrayed as the wonderful mother figure that she’s known to be. The Human Torch’s scene is decent as well, and it also introduces Miss Thing (one of the four members of the FF replacement team).
Mr. Fantastic is planning a trip through unknown universes, bringing back the adventure feel that Hickman’s run didn’t explore as much as some FF writers have. He has a specific reason to explore unknown universes; I won’t spoil what it is, but something is going on with Reed Richards’s powers. It adds more dramatic weight to the story and it works fairly well.
This issue’s problems don’t overshadow this issue’s positive points, but they do worry me a bit. Franklin Richards’s portrayal here feels a bit … off. He cries for “Momma” after a bad dream, even though he’s a bit old for crying “Momma”.
Also, how exactly did the Fantastic Four get stuck in a dinosaur’s mouth, and why isn’t Invisible Woman able to force its mouth open with her force fields? She’s both insanely powerful and skilled with her powers, opening a dinosaur’s mouth should be easy for her. Same goes for the Thing opening the dinosaur’s mouth. For that matter, you’d think it would instinctively open its mouth after the Human Torch’s fire attacks. The way they returned to the Baxter building felt a bit off as well – you’d think Reed would program his time travel device so that they wouldn’t land on top of their breakfast table.
While The Thing doesn’t feel out of character, his “introduction” scene does little to explain who he is for new audiences. While he isn’t exactly the smartest member of the group, he feels dumber here than he should. In the Human Torch’s introduction scene, he’s still wearing the cosmic control rod, even though he had to return it after the Negative Zone election late in Hickman’s run. When exactly is this issue supposed to take place? Some of these might seem like nitpicks, but having continuity hiccups in the first issue is usually a bad sign.
The art is pretty good. It’s a simple look, yet this comic is very colourful without being overwhelming. There are little touches here and there as well, like a wooden floor cracking under the Thing’s steps, and the various floating rocks in the negative zone. I can’t think of any art related complaints.
Despite its problems, this is a decent starting point for Matt Fraction’s FF run. There’s certainly potential here – hopefully Matt Fraction can improve on the problems that are present in this issue. As long as it doesn’t go downhill though, I’ll stick with it for a bit. This issue won’t win over any new fans – it’s not quite that good, but it’s at least worth checking out for Fantastic Four regulars.