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May 27, 2011 / MojosWork

FF #4

Ratings: 3.5/5

Synopsis (via Marvel): The War of Four Cities: Part ONE It’s finally come as prophesied — The War of Four Cities! After months of pent-up aggression, the combatants cry havoc and set loose the dogs of war! In order to prevent the war from spreading outwards to all areas of the globe, the FF spring into action to stem the tide of death and destruction. What chance does anyone have when all hope lies in Doom?!

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Barry Kitson

Cover Price: $2.99 (Hooray!)

Well, if Dan Slott ever leaves Amazing Spider-Man (please don’t), I know who I’m pulling for to take his place. Jonathan Hickman is one of the current hot commodities in the comicbook world, but to be honest, I haven’t been a fan. His SHIELD mini-series was confusing, and didn’t even wrap up as a complete thought, which is the only reason I bought it in the first place. (No long-term commitment.) The first three issues of FF, which I bought out of curiosity more than anything, left me scratching my head at points. Maybe I wasn’t reading carefully, which is entirely possible, since I’ve never been the biggest Fantastic Four fan, but I felt like plot developments were occurring between panels – definitely the same feeling I got from the frustrating SHIELD, which I do not recommend in the least. (I always feel like such an idiot when the general populace praises something to the moon the way SHIELD has been, and I don’t get the joke.)

The story shapes up nicely in FF #4, my favorite part being that these evil alternate reality Reeds need to visit specific sites that have been important in Fantastic Four history (and the Forever City from SHIELD). The Marvel Universe has so many unique places on its Earth, so it’s nice to forgo New York and Anytown, USA for one of the company’s universe-specific locales.

More than that though, and why Hickman would dominate a Spider-Man run, is the way he writes humor into his story without undermining the gravity of the tale. Perfect example is the Mad Thinker living up to his name.

The Mad Overthinker

That was funny, but the opening exchange of Spider-Man and Invisible Woman conversing over the merits of bread crusts takes the cake (sandwich?). The long, but entertaining exposition wraps up perfectly with Spider-Man himself requesting no crust on his sammy, seconds after Sue explained most kids prefer no crusts. One of the mole people steals the scene by proclaiming, “The sandwich of strength! The sandwich of glory!” (And there’s another reason I’m starting to really enjoy this book. A mole kid runs around the Baxter Building eating sandwiches, and that’s just any old Thursday.)

Barry Kitson draws a perfect amalgam between a MILF-y Sue and Suzie Homemaker.

Hickman injects more humor, particularly in the scene with Bentley shooting Thing in the head with a dart gun and offering to get the blowtorch hidden under his bed to break into Reed’s too-quiet boardroom filled with super villains.

This is a perfectly normal situation in any family's life, except the adult is made of rock and the kid is diabolical.

The Sue/Spidey and Thing/Bentley exchanges are what make me believe this could be an outstanding book, sooner rather than later. The Fantastic Four has always been about the family dynamic first and foremost, so taking the most mundane aspect of daily family life (mom prepping a sandwich, misbehaving children hiding things under the bed) and hitting the gas full throttle in a superhero setting makes for great entertainment.

The action is interesting, but its the familial interaction of this ensemble cast that propels FF forward. And if Hickman ever gets bored, a certain wall-crawler would be perfectly suited this kind of slice-of-life mixed with superhero sci-fi humor.

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