Fantastic Four (Vol 6) #1
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Sarah Pichelli
Publisher: Marvel Comics
So, a new era of the Fantastic Four is here, and who better to chart a new course for Marvel’s premier family of superheroes than the writer who made The Amazing Spider-Man one of the publisher’s most consistently good titles, and the artist who co-created Miles Morales, aka the Ultimate Spider-Man?
Three years ago, the Jonathan Hickman-penned epic Secret Wars put Reed and Sue Richards, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm in the centre of the Dr Doom-created storm. The aftermath of Reed and Doom’s final battle in that event saw a rebooting of the entire Marvel Universe, with Ben and Johnny sent back to the new Earth-616, with Reed, Sue, their children Franklin and Valerie, and the kids from the Future Foundation taking some time out to pretty much recreate the entire Marvel Universe with the help of Owen Reese, the Molecule Man.
Well, it seems like that job is almost done, which is exciting news not only for fans of the Fantastic Four but also the whole Marvel multiverse as a whole.
Anyway, back on Earth, Reed, Sue and the Future Foundation are presumed dead, killed while trying to stop a “universal catastrophe”. While Ben has given up hope that his friends are still alive, Johnny still hasn’t.
This first issue focuses on Ben and Johnny as they come to grips with their lives without the other half of their team. Ben gets to spend more time with Alicia Masters, which is a nice change from his usual clobbering-filled life, while Johnny, who has inherited the Baxter Building and a fortune left behind by Reed, still revels in his celebrity status.
While Ben is the one who gets the biggest development in his life (hint: it involves putting a ring on it), it’s Johnny who somehow gets the more pronounced emotional arc here, as he pines for the return of the team feverishly, willing to hold on to any flicker of flame that indicates Reed, Sue and the rest of his family might still be alive.
Even though he is mostly working with only half of the team in this first issue, Slott imbues them with a grounded, human nature that really does make you care that little bit more for them (yes, even the cocky Johnny). It’s a trick he’s already used to good effect with The Amazing Spider-Man, and it should be interesting to see how he does with Marvel’s most family-oriented super team.
Where there is the Fantastic Four, Dr Doom can’t be far behind. He gets his own short story, Our Day Of Doom And Victory, at the end of the main tale, where he’s spouting grand, sweeping, tyrannical declarations once more. After a short, uninspiring spell as the Infamous Iron Man, in which he tried his hand at heroism by replacing Tony Stark as Iron Man, it’s nice to see Doom back behind his own iron mask, and evil once more (hopefully).
Sure, Fantastic Four #1 seems more like a prologue than anything (the four are not even back together yet), but it IS a pretty decent debut for Slott and Pichelli. For now, it’s enough to know that Marvel’s First Family is back.