Under yet another charming Mike Choi cover, “FF” #19 shares the adventures of the Future Foundation students in wonderful Wakanda. Titled “Safari,” this issue, as depicted on the cover, sets the kids to investigate some of the indigenous wildlife of Wakanda, which includes riding rhinos, elephants and zebras.
Sadly, a vast majority of comic book artists would stumble upon this first part of the assignment, as they are unable to draw believably realistic animals that do not appear photo-traced. Gabriel Hernandez Walta, however, draws all of those animals wonderfully, along with brilliant portrayals of the children, Dragon Man and the villains of this piece: the Hyena Clan, all fantastically colored with watercolor-like softness by Cris Peter. The Clan, like the pre-conceived notion of their namesake, is a pack of scavengers, taking from other tribes and establishments and causing a general sense of unease solely by the mention of their name.
In addition to the Hyena Clan, Walta is also given the opportunity to introduce readers to Onome, the Foundation class’ guide during their Wakandan excursion. Fitting right in with the personalities Jonathan Hickman has crafted for the FF students, Onome is certain to win the hearts of readers through her crafty manipulations of the Hyena Clan’s tech. Much like in the latest issue of “Fantastic Four,” Hickman adds depth, history and diversity to the greater Marvel Universe, and to the continent of Africa in particular. That leads me to this plea: “Dear Marvel, pleasepleaseplease let Hickman have a chance to write the ongoing adventures of the Black Panther.” Hickman’s reverence for the characters of Wakanda while building their world might even exceed what Christopher Priest was able to accomplish during his time penning the adventures of T’Challa.
In addition to the excellent Wakanda world-building, Hickman provides a number of great moments for the “FF’s” regular characters, giving Alex Power, Dragon Man, the Moloids, Val and Bentley chances to entertain and amuse. Indeed, Bentley provides quite a chuckle in this issue while proving his worth in combat.
As with the rest of this series to date, “FF” #19 brings some eye-opening moments, entertaining dialogue, fabulous, natural character development and more than a little bit of world-building. When Hickman departs the Fantastic Four family of titles, his run is going to be remembered fondly, and this issue is a prime example of why.