I’d forgotten what it was like to be genuinely excited about a new issue of “Fantastic Four.” Most recent takes on the title just didn’t click with me (although there were one or two that for various reasons I never got to try), lacking that sense of wonder and fun that in my mind an issue of “Fantastic Four” should absolutely have. With Jonathan Hickman writing “Fantastic Four,” thought, we’re just two issues in and the book is practically crackling with excitement.
Hickman follows up on his idea of a council of Reed Richards in a wide-reaching, exciting look at just what these Reeds are achieving when working together. The comic opens up with a simple statement. “I don’t believe in murder. But this morning, before breakfast, I helped kill a Galactus on Earth 2012.” And from there, the book hits the ground running. The concepts of the Farm and the Hole are introduced here, showcasing both the highs and the lows of the council. They can save a billion people in the blink of an eye, but they’re also capable of ethically dubious actions.
“Fantastic Four” is also continuing forward with the idea of them being not just a team but a family; the friction starting to generate between Reed and Sue is just like any other husband and wife where one is hiding something from the other. There’s also a fun subplot about Franklin Richards’s upcoming birthday party, and we even get to see more of young Reed and his father Nathaniel Richards. In terms of writing , the book continues to come together in a cohesive and satisfying whole.
Dale Eaglesham’s art, unfortunately, is a little uneven. The biggest (and hard to ignore fault) is how he’s drawing everyone all bulked up like professional weight lifters. For characters who don’t have super-strength, Reed and Johnny in particular look nothing short of ludicrous. There’s a scene with Johnny in a muscle tank-top at the breakfast table looking like he was taken directly from a “Muscle Fitness” magazine “day in the life” feature, complete with biceps the size of his head. Muscular bubble-butts and perfectly formed pecs are not things you should see on Reed Richards, let alone an entire army of Reeds, but that’s exactly what Eaglesham dishes up here. The sad thing is that in other aspects I think Eaglesham does an excellent job. His faces are perfect, from a stern look from Sue as she reprimands Franklin, to a classy looking suit-wearing Reed on the world of the Farm and his warm, caring expression. If Eaglesham could just tone down the musculature, the book would look fantastic the whole way through.
I can’t remember the last time “Fantastic Four” has been so much fun. It’s got big crazy ideas, it’s got the FF-as-family, it’s got superheroics, it’s got drama, it’s got pathos. It’s nice to see Hickman getting a spotlight book; not only because I like the idea of more attention being paid to his creator-owned books as a result, but because Hickman’s earned it. This is an excellent book.