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First Issue, Second Opinion: Fantastic Four #1
Fred  |  November 14, 2012

Russel:

I’m not immediately sold on Fantastic Four I have to admit, at least not with the first issue. Though that may just be because of my bias for Jonathan Hickman’s run, as fresh as its end might be. Now, I’m very much a fan of Matt Fraction, so I trust that the former writer of Invincible Iron Man can work the same kind of magic he did on that title, but I do wonder if he can juggle the world Hickman left him, or if he’ll adapt to it and downsize it, in a way to suit his familiarity with a smaller starring cast.

That looks to be the M.O., as the Fantastic Four is shrinking back down to the immediate family, as Reed takes the team plus his kids into a wild adventure through time and space.

Of course, Franklin shouldn’t be the only nervous occupant of something that immediately looks to be headed in a Lost In Space territory, and it’s not simply because the story beats presented to me didn’t seem to land organically or feel necessarily fluid… though the main reason they might not have, to me, is one and the same. Mark Bagley is a fine artist, but he isn’t an artist that can necessarily make a space epic feel epic. There’s something about his style that lacks weight. Which is fine for Ultimate Spider-Man, and lent itself to the youth of that series in a way that coupled with his speed and consistency; it was perfect for his wonderful 100+ issues with Bendis.

Ultimately, however (sorry), it leaves the first issue, at least, feeling a bit lacking. Once again, though, I will freely admit to feeling spoiled by Jonathan Hickman’s long run on the title, even with ITS sometimes inconsistent artwork.

At least it’s ahead of Iron Man in my (so far imaginary) Marvel NOW! SuperPower Rankings. What say you, Fred?

Fred:

The cancellation of Hickman's run on Fantastic Four for the Marvel NOW! reboot was definitely one of the books I was saddest/angriest about. He'd created such an intricately detailed world with really fascinating characters, so even though I love Fraction's work, anything he put out couldn't quite compare.

That bias aside, Fantastic Four #1 was an OK read. It establishes the characters, but not in very much depth besides Reed and Franklin. Well, I think we got as much depth as you can really get out of Johnny in this issue, but that's OK. That works for that character. Though having dinner with a pretty girl right beside what's obviously a brutal battle in some galactic war? That's pretty crass, even for Johnny. He's still a hero, isn't he?

The story is interesting enough and presents a slow-burning crisis that can last the entire six or twelve issue arc. There's some really funny bits, which is one of Fractions understated strengths; he knows how to get laughs from readers, especially with these understated throwaway one liners that could easily be missed.

I absolutely agree with you about Bagley's art. It's not ethereal or interesting enough to showcase the wonders of space in a way that makes you excited to see more. It's the difference between the type of illustration you see in a middle school textbook vs. photos from the Hubble telescope. Though they both depict the same thing accurately, the sense of grandeur is missing. Bagley's work definitely suited Ultimate Spider-Man, but it doesn't work here. Oh and the cover design? The Fantastic Four logo with the art they used makes the book look like a cheap title for kids. I know that sounds harsh, but it's true. It's a total throwback to the 80's which is absolutely not what the book deserves. Why reboot into the past?

I will keep reading this series as I think Fraction can go on to do great things with it, but I don't think Bagley is the right artist to make this story resonate.

Also, this book needs more Val--the most interesting female character in Marvel comics--and she's only 8!

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