Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s run on “Fantastic Four” comes to an end with Millar on plotting duties and Hitch providing just the cover. Now, there are very good reasons for each creator’s absence, but I’ll say right off the bat that it does take away from this finale. Stuart Immonen filling in for Hitch is a smart decision, though. Millar’s inability to write this issue completely is a little off-putting since this issue isn’t just the end of his 16-issue run on the title, but also is the “Fantastic Four” element of his multi-book crossover between “1985” and the “Old Man Logan” story in “Wolverine.” It’s all been leading to this issue and it kind of fizzles out.
With Doom’s master, the Marquis of Death, on the attack, the Fantastic Four are also under siege by alternate versions of the group that are upset with Reed, because he did not kill an earlier incarnation of the Marquis to save the multiverse. And that’s just the first few pages of plot, folks; it doesn’t get much clearer as the issue progresses, which also takes a lot of the energy out of this conclusion. What should be a big blowout starts and stops in fits, because of the convoluted plot and the equally convoluted twists that get throw in.
That said, there are some shining moments here. The means by which the Fantastic Four fight the alternate versions of themselves and the Marquis are inventive and told in an interesting way. As well, the revelation of the identity of the Marquis’s new apprentice is surprising and a bit of a game changer if it sticks. As well, the wedding of Ben Grimm and Deborah Green is handled well.
Joe Ahearne’s scripting over Millar’s plot is competent. There are a few rough patches where characters spew dialogue that sounds forced, like Ahearne is trying too hard to capture their voices and it comes out as cliched FF dialogue. Otherwise, he manages to strike a balance between Millar’s dialogue stylings and what we expect Fantastic Four dialogue to sound like.
Stuart Immonen delivers his standard excellent art, seemingly while trying to mimic Bryan Hitch’s style when he can. If you look at the preview pages, you’ll notice that he maintains the soft panel borders that Hitch has used throughout the run, and his shot compositions are very reminiscent of Hitch. While it still looks more like Immonen than Hitch, the influence is very much in display here. As such, the shift in styles isn’t nearly as jarring as it could be. Beyond that, Immonen is one of the best artists drawing superhero books today, and this extra-sized issue puts that in display quite well. He really shines in the post-battle wedding scenes where he gets a chance to focus on characters instead of action.
The finale of the Millar/Hitch run ends with neither on the book completely, but I don’t think that would have helped this mediocre, convoluted story since Millar still plotted it and Hitch is replaced by an artist very much his equal. It’s a shame that this 16-issue run couldn’t end with more of a bang, but it does have some rather good moments.