Fantastic Fun Fact: After a week of supporting friends at local events and a weekend of phone related drama, I must admit that this was the first chance I have had to write this review and, as such, apologize for it being posted so late in the month. I hope you enjoy regardless!
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Penciler: Steve Epting
Inkers: Steve Epting & Rick Magyar
Color Artist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Rus Wooton
Cover Artists: Steve Epting, Daniel Acuña, Marko Djurdjevic, Stan Goldberg, Gerald Parel, Joe Sinnott and Val Staples
Plot: Time has passed since Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, perished in battle. But tomorrow has arrived! Witness the future as Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man joins the Future Foundation in the latest Marvel Masterpiece! But watch out fans of fiction, a sinister plot is afoot…
So, after months of build-up over in the Fantastic Four title, we’ve finally arrived and seen what the future can offer us. After all, it’s a BRAND NEW DAY for the FF but, if you were to compare this to that particular event in Spidey history, I can safely assure you that this issue was a far better introduction to these characters and the amount of enjoyment this series can bring.
The issue is well written and well-constructed, with the dialogue flowing from the characters in a natural and realistic way. We learn early on that Johnny was the one who suggested Peter join in his place, saying “Franklin would love it and Spider-Man is, after all, like the second-best Super Hero. Ever.” It’s an instant reminder of the miniseries that was published in 2005 that these two characters shared a close bond and that he’s a long overdue choice as a replacement member in the FF title. We also learn that the rest of the team hasn’t gotten over Johnny’s departure which again, recalls that realistic approach that Hickman utilises throughout his writing. It’s great to see character interaction done so well and I haven’t even mentioned the best example of this yet!
The suit is also explained, which I really hope will play in the main Spider-Man title as it would work to the advantage of our webheaded hero as well as looking pretty niffy, despite the obvious comparisons one could make to the ‘Anti-Venom’ costume. After a fight scene that shows us an escape of an old FF character from prison and some great Spidey quipage, we return back to the family setting at the FF tower. There are some fantastic moments here, such as the respect shown between Franklin and Spidey and the scene where they pray to their respective gods is made all the more amusing with Peter there when a clone of the Wizard gets in one for a certain demonic devil character. One scene sticks out as Reed suggests an idea and they start to agree when his father, who is currently staying with them, questions why they would blindly follow his suggestions to which Reed replies “How refreshing”. If I could pinpoint the reason why this issue is worth adding to your collection, it would be for the character interaction because it’s great to see how many individuals can come together as one united family. I could spoil the ending but I think that surprise is best left to discover on your own because you would not believe who else will be joining the team come next issue.
The artwork compliments the story as Epting utilises dynamic poses throughout, such as the splash page of Spidey on page 4 or when the Thing and Spidey arrive on location later on in the book. Steve Epting has a great sense of style to his pencils/inking and it really helps convey the emotions of the character, even that of Spider-Man whose face you never see fully unmasked. There’s also a spread in the back of the book, to inform you of who the characters are if you hadn’t picked up the series before and what their role on the team is. I could nit-pick and say that I would have preferred this feature to have been placed in the front of the book, rather than here but when you consider the fantastic finish to the story, it does work better there.
However, despite all the praise I have given, I would be outright lying to you if I didn’t admit I had some problems with the content. While I liked the majority of the covers (I purchased the 50th anniversary cover, fantastic image of the Frightful Four), the one drawn by Stan Goldberg (the sixties stylised cover) wasn’t as well rendered when viewed up close and the one featuring the static image of Reed Richards wasn’t particularly interesting either. Then again, considering that the two copies of the blank cover editions had already been sold within six hours of my local store putting them out while the other three had not suggests that fans no longer judge the books solely by their covers… for the most part.
I also feel that the story suffers a little from the ‘Bendis’ style of storytelling in that, if you remove all the great character moments, little happens in the issue itself. You could sum up the story simply, as “Spidey joins the FF and they go to a prison only to discover the prisoner escapes. Then they eat dinner together”. In truth, you could describe many classic tales in such a manner but I hoped that, since this is the first issue of the series, there would be more action. Truth be told, the fight that took place only lasted for a page or so and again, I understand that this issue was focusing more on the character moments but I would have liked to have seen more, especially considering the amount of characters crammed into this book. The character introductions themselves were rather basic for a ‘new’ series and while past readers won’t have a single problem in that regard, I feel more could have been done to get new readers involved.
In short, while I have some minor faults with the issue itself, I think this is a great start to a new series. It is unfortunate that Spidey didn’t really do much in this issue because I still believe, as I stated in my last review, that Hickman really gets the character of Spider-Man and I think he will be used to great effect later on. If you aren’t enjoying Slott’s take on the character and want something involving your favourite neighbourhood fellow on a monthly basis, I would recommend you pick this book up as soon as possible! It may not be perfect but knowing Hickman, I’m sure that, in the end, it will be… fantastic.
Final Rating: 4.5 out of 5 webheads