The Fantastic Four have had several very good runs in a row. Jonathan Hickman’s run had a very large scale with the fate of the entire planet at stake, yet kept a strong focus on the family as individual characters and as a unit. Matt Fraction’s run wasn’t quite as good (and a bit polarizing), but it brought a unique look on the franchise as their powers started to kill them. It was often fun, still kept the focus on the family aspect, and the FF replacement team was an often hilarious ride that still had a decent story. So far, I’m not excited for James Robinson’s run.
The comic starts similarly to Matt Fraction’s run; with a flash forward seeing the Fantastic Four in trouble. Threats to the family falling apart have happened before, but this one’s more extreme than usual with the family close to the breaking point. At the same time, it feels a bit too familiar. Valeria is mad at her parents again? She’s been mad before but not enough to run away for extended periods of time. Even during the party scene in Fantastic Four 16, her thoughts of running away were pretty much ended by the available food, and that she wasn’t mad at the other F4 or any of the FF kids. Also she’s four, so why are her parents letting her run to Latveria again? The Thing and Alicia are getting back together? By now, they should either make their relationship permanent or end it forever, because this endless cycle is tiring. The rest of the family problems are fine enough so far.
Even when the franchise has been dark, there’s always been an element of fun. Besides the FF kids’ brief scene, there isn’t much fun to be had in this issue. It’s a bit too depressing for my tastes for the family. The dialogue is a bit clunky as well. While Reed often uses long, technical language, it’s out of place in the middle of a fight scene. The dialogue outside of the action works better though.
The art is good enough. Facial expressions are drawn well and there’s plenty of environmental detail. The action scene flows nicely. Despite the dark storytelling, the comic is usually bright and colourful. It also leads to the comic’s biggest distraction though. Why are the FF’s uniforms red? There’s no explanation for their sudden change in uniform, while every other time they’ve changed, there’s been a specified reason. They originally went to white in mourning of the Human Torch’s death, and they went to white and blue in attempt to slow their sickness.
I’ll give Robinson a few more issues to win me over, but I doubt I’ll stick with this run. I already have 3 fantastic runs to re-read at any time with John Byrne, Hickman and yes, Fraction. That and I plan on reading Stan Lee’s original run on the title. If you’re a Fantastic Four fan this is still at least worth reading, but read it before you buy it if that’s possible.
Also, I’m not a fan of the somewhat immature titling on the top of the cover. Fant4stik?