FF #23 isn’t so much the latest issue of a great family comic book, or the final issue of a wonderful youth-centered super book; I mean it IS both of those things, but it’s so much more. It’s also the epilogue of Jonathan Hickman’s magnificent Fantastic Four run.
Now it almost seems unfair to tell you to read this specific comic book if you haven’t kept up to date with Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four, as well as FF (the book that spun out of the death Johnny Storm, before becoming it’s own separate entity with a reason to exist). In fact, though this is the FINAL epilogue to Hickman’s time with the Richards family, in all honesty, we’ve been treated to a series of epilogues and closed chapters to concepts introduced since the run's inception, ever since the central tale of the Fall and Rise of Johnny Storm reached its climactic point. In said story, all the corners of the Marvel universe that the Fantastic Four had first introduced were tied in … the Negative Zone, Galactus and the Celestials, the Moloids, the Kree, the return of Namor, the Black Panther, and so much more.
WITH that, a new generation was literally brought into the fold within these stories, as children of these worlds joined the Future Foundation (with three Moloids proving to be comic GOLD). It took an expansive universe that was born from the pages of the Fantastic Four… and used it to create. New concepts built organically from the old. The four races of Inhumans, and the fifth Earth-born Inhumans and how they came to be, Doom as God, Franklin and the universe, and so many other big concepts. Young Bently, the Wizard’s clone and his nature versus nurture debate wrapped within the Wizard/Reed argument of religion and science.
We saw fathers and sons from a number of different angles, and more then just that the meaning of family…
FF #23 highlighted family in a way that all of Hickman’s run did exceptionally well.
It’s brothers and sisters.
Drinks with your uncles.
Loving your parents.
Though it’s the last of many an epilogue, hopefully it’s not the last of this world of characters. Hickman’s world is going to be going into the capable hands of Matt Fraction, as Hickman himself takes over the Avengers (continuing the Mr. Fantastic/Black Panther storyline in New Avengers at least). I recommend this issue, of course, but if you’re reticent on picking it up then I recommend the trades of every step of this Fantastic journey.
This run left us with a wonderful lesson, and an incredibly heartfelt capstone issue. You can pay all the homage you want to the stories that have survived the past, but if you don’t make something new from them… then what do you have that’s worth reading?
“Creating is harder than knowing.”
Couldn’t have said it better. Genius.