Hey look, Spider-Man has an actual line of dialogue here. What’s that? A second line? A relevant plot point? This is madness. Anyone who read my FF 14 review knows what it is, but let’s pretend my reviews don’t bring hundreds of visitors to the site and finish this event.
FF 16: One Step Ahead
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta & Steve Epting
Colors: Chris Sotomayor & Paul Mounts
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Mike Choi
Editors: John Denning, Lauren Sankovitch, Tom Breevort
I Won’t Keep Any More Secrets. Ever. I Promise.. I Swear: In the aftermath of their victory, Franklin is bragging about how he saved the day, while Ben remorses that he has no home and half of New York is trashed. Sue tells him to suck it up and they set about fixing New York with the Avengers’ help. They transport the debris to the Negative Zone, where the majority of the Annhilius Wave use the trash to rebuild. At the same time, Franklin from the future pretty much reveals he’s a time lord and tells Galactus (Galen is his name) that when the end of all things comes, they will face it together and Galen seems comforted by this.
Back on Earth, Reed reveals he had parts of a second Baxter Building stored away and that he made modifications to this one, so now the Future Foundation is better situated; water rooms for the Atlateans, cavern rooms for the Moloids, etc. He then reveals new costumes and
The Justice League’s Watch Tower, I mean The Foundation which is a space station orbiting around the Baxter Building where the Future Foundation will learn from. When Peter asks Johnny if he’s going to stay at the Foundation with his remaining alien soldiers, Johnny uses the moment to trick Peter into accepting him as his new roommate.
The issue ends with the Richards extended family telling Valeria she is forgiven because she helped save the day, but she needs to stop deceiving them. As she swears to never lie to them, it’s revealed she showed Doom a way to survive on the Bridge and he discovers the brain dead Dooms the Council of Reed collected and realizes that with his new Infinity Gauntlet, he can build here with A Parliament of Doom.
This Is How The World Didn’t End: This issue is delivered to us through the eyes of Valeria Richards and that really works for this book. Having been in her head and learning how critical she has become of being the good guy, it gives a lot more umph to the ending where it’s revealed Valeria has restored Doom to a position of power. Hickman balances the maturity and immaturity of a super intellectual child with great lines like how she dissects how being a super-hero sucks and then following it up with something silly like, “I bet they poop in that water.” In fact all of the dialogue is great here from Franklin and Galactus having a tender moment to Reed’s explanations of the changes coming to this book. Save for the one that really mattered to me, which was the Johnny/Peter room-mate set-up.
As a conclusion to the Forever event, it works well by giving closure but not closing every single thread; I’m of a firm belief not everything has to be explained, but that might just be the horror lover in me. What he sets up in the final pages of the book has me excited for the future of this title, but leaves me uncertain on just how often Peter is going to show up since the core of this book is still very much the Richards Children/Doom connection.
Ultimate Spider-Man Moment: So this issue has established a new status quo for the Peter/Johnny storyline; roomies! Still, this left a sour taste in my mouth, because rather than have some powerful moment between the two, it’s more of a throw away joke by Johnny. Also Peter’s fate with both teams is rather unresolved, but Hickman said he’d discuss Peter’s future with the Fantastic Four in FF #17.
Verdict: So, this was a very mixed issue (still hate Dragotta) but at the end I still came to the conclusion I come to since I learned Hickman was leaving the FF books in October: I don’t want him to go. He’s set up the Parliament of Doom, Peter and Johnny boarding together, a new direction for the Future Foundation, a dark future for Valeria Richards. In the letter columns and solicits, he’s promised to take us to the future, Wakanda, the Inhumans for closure, explore Franklin’s powers further, deal with Annhilius, and fit in a new villain. He has seven months to do all of this, roughly fourteen issues before he goes and I feel like things are going to get rushed. Hopefully he is working with his successor to some degree because if any of this new status quo goes in a change for change sake, I will be pissed. Still, Hickman is still bringing a lot of promise to this book after going above and beyond in delivering on all he promised.
As the score stands for the individual issues, it goes as such: Fantastic 600 (4), FF 12 (4), Fantastic 601 (3.5), FF 13 (4.5), Fantastic 602 (3), FF 14 (4), Fantastic 603 (5), FF 15 (2), Fantastic (5), FF 16 (4), giving us an overall 3.9/5 rating for this event. Early on while the Fantastic Four was caught up in being this grandiose event that had a large scale but struggled with personal connection, our Future Foundation picked up the slack and brought a much more fun and personal adventure to the table. While Epting and Kitson were drawing massive battles, Bobilo was bringing a Sunday morning vibe to a powerful script with fantastic dialogue and intrigue by Hickman. And when Dragotta took over and the important characters of the Future Foundation moved over to it’s mother title, Fantastic Four kicked into high gear, delivering two awe-inducing comics that delivered on all the promise Hickman had brought to the title.
Hickman and his artists made a fantastic cast of characters in each book, and there is no changing the fact this event of his will have ramifications on the Fantastic Four in the days to come. Taking that into effect alongside the fact he made a large event into a personal family affair without fumbling the ball in the process, while delivering what could be a beautiful end to the Fantastic Four not only once but twice, with the second being much more powerful than the first, I’m bumping this event’s overall rating. My hat’s off to you Hickman, you did great and I hope you continue to bring Spider-Man into the pages of your books, so I can continue to review them for this site.
Shameless Plug: And from now on, I won’t post any Fantastic Four/FF reviews unless Spider-Man appears in the book for longer than a background panel. If need be, I’ll write up a summation of events leading up to that issue, but until the next Spider filled issue, I’ll catch you guys later, unless you have any interest to listen to me, follow Crawlspace Reviewer Brian Bradley, and previous Crawl-Space reviewer Nathaniel Collins on The Mixed Marvel Arts podcast.
And Phew, 30 minutes left to spare, made it.