Review: FF #1

Published on March 28th, 2011

In the last issue of the Fantastic Four we saw the death of Johnny Storm and then the aftermath. In my review of that last issue, I stated that I simplycould not wait to see where Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting were going to take us with the Future Foundation and that I was in pure anticipation. So, here we are at the dawn of a new era. Did Hickman and Epting deliver on the promise of a change in status quo for Marvels first family? Keep reading to find out!

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I have said many times in the past that I have never been a long time reader of the Fantastic Four. I have always felt that there was a sort of campiness to them. This worked well in the 60’s but has since worn out it’s welcome. I can say that most of my exposure to the team has been cartoons, a movie or two and the Ultimate Universe version of the team. All in all I avoided the book because of it’s preordained stigmas. The only time in the early 90’s I remember picking up the book was when the team became Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Hulk (Mr. Fix it), and Wolverine in issue #347. Having said all of that I decided to give the team a chance once I heard that Hickman and Epting were coming on board the book and had big plans to change things. I am discovering that this seems to be a thread I really enjoy in comics, literature, art and life. I love not knowing where a story will go and a change up of the status quo is always welcomed and enjoyed. It explores the possibilities and expands our horizons. I like the “different” because that is what makes a story truly special. Its own beast, its own voice. The question being put in front of us now is, did Hickman craft something that has never been told before? Did he lead us down a dark path that has never been explored? I can tell you with a resounding “Yes!”  he did and we all get to benefit from it.

The Future is now. It is here and even the Fantastic Four can see it. They have shed what was the old, bright blues and have even changed the name in order to incorporate a much larger group of people because even they can tell that four people can’t change the world, that takes a Foundation working for the betterment of mankind. From the opening pages of Future Foundation #1 you see a difference in tone. On the first page, a group of AIM soldiers hurriedly jumping into a portal exclaiming “We have to find some new ideas”. This seems to be the rally call over at Marvel, as they have not only changed up a lot of their core groups and characters allowing them to grow but, and I am happy to say, changed the face of what a comic can be and I can happily say that has now touched what was The Fantastic Four’s ever distant shores.

Reading further into this issue we see Spider-Man (one of the FF’s oldest friends)  joining the team and getting a new costume as well as seeing the effects of Johnny’s absence on the family. Sue explains to Spider-man that she is still responsible for ruling old Atlantis and that things have changed among what was the Fantastic Four. It is in this area that I have to say I am really impressed with Hickman’s writing. He is casting a shadow over the entire family and how they are dealing with things, even Spider-Man who as we know is usually very upbeat learns quickly that things have changed and Reed and the team are much more somber.  The really interesting thing is that Hickman is showing us the bubble that they are all living in after someones death. You get this feeling that they are all saddened by Johnny’s death and that they are all trying to deal with it and move forward in their own way. That is a part of the grieving process and one I was not expecting to see in this book. We also see the return of Reed’s father to the family dynamic, who we have recently seen in Hickman’s S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as the last few arcs of the Fantastic Four. Having Reed’s father, Nathaniel, back is also another game changer to the team dynamic, as it makes Nathaniel the elder statesman and Reed just another smart, functional part of the team. It doesn’t negate the things Reed does, but I think you will see it does make him question his decisions more as well as give him a break from being the one everyone turns to at the end of the day. There is even a somewhat pensive but nice scene, drawn perfectly by Epting, with everyone at the table eating where you start to see that new dynamic unfold.

The FF are then immediately called into action to battle an escape attempt by The Wizard, who was not only successful, but also working with AIM. This gave the team its first run in the field and it’s seemed to help Thing more then any one else ,blow off some steam as he still feels responsible for Johnny’s death. After the unsuccessful mission to stop the breakout, the team returns to the Baxter Building where we see Reed being lead by Val and Nathaniel to a stairway. Val and Reed are having a heated discussion, until Nathaniel steps in and says that Val is correct and that Reed needs to trust her, as this is her destiny and that it is time to make this change. They then round the corner to find a stoic looking Doom waiting to become apart of The Future Foundation.

Final Verdict: The Future Foundation interjects the blood needed to not only keep the legacy of the Fantastic Four alive but make it something far more rich then what it could ever have been. Hickman is doing for the FF what Brubaker,Parker,Bendis, and Fraction have been doing for the their own titles.AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING!

Sheldon Lee

Sheldon@comicimpact.com