“Fantastic Four” #2 continues to establish the set up for this relaunch. The original team plans to head away for four minutes and they finalize their replacements, who are headlining the “FF” book, finally jetting off onto their adventure. There is a lot of heart in this issue and enough character work to make it pleasing, but it simply isn’t moving fast enough.
It has taken three issues (counting “FF” #1) to get the Fantastic Four to leave Earth to find a cure for Reed’s problem (cancerous unstable molecules — which raises the question of when unstable molecules became part of the physiological make up of the Fantastic Four members and not just the fabric of their uniforms?). Three whole issues have been devoted to the establishment of the idea that Reed is sick, the family needs to take off for a while, and some other heroes need to be placeholders for four minutes. While there are some great character moments, this doesn’t stop the narrative from feeling as slow as dripping molasses.
The first issue of “Fantastic Four” was all set up and I hoped this issue would charge the group into some action. Instead, we are given about 30% a kind of mulligan for scenes from “FF” #1 and the rest is a very slow goodbye to the family. There is some good work with Johnny Storm and Darla Deering that I assume establishes certain elements for later use, but this issue mostly feels like a slow pad to the inevitable. Much of the issue is peppered with very short 1-2 page scenes, which should make it feel kinetic and dense. However, the scenes are redundant or flat, making the issue feel thin despite the great structure.
Mark Bagley’s art feels atmospheric due to the inks from Mark Farmer and Mark Morales. They layer depth and detail to the faces that make them feel less cartoony but without losing any quality. The colors from Paul Mounts and Wil Quintana bring each page to life for the characters. They also do a great job of making the science look alive.
“Fantastic Four” #2 is a miss. By this stage of investment from the readers, in both time and money, they should get something to hold onto besides the basic set up of the tale. Plot progression and character choices should be vast and dangerous in this scientific and imaginary world. Instead, readers get heroes having fun together that don’t take any significant action. The character moments are well written and the art is absolutely fine, but the pacing and story will lose the audience quickly unless something finally hooks them in for the long haul.