Most of Matt Fraction and Michael Allred’s “FF” #4 feels like a fun, if inconsequential, romp with a shocking cliffhanger that reminds readers all is not just fun and games at the good ol’ Future Foundation.
There’s a sense of lightness and fun to Fraction and Allred’s take on the FF that is truly infectious, but there are so many characters that it is sometimes becoming a bit confusing. While the cliffhanger in this issue shocked me, things have been tonally so light that I’m not sure if I find myself legitimately worried about the fate of anyone inside in the book, regardless of the reveal. Though I do like the lighthearted tone of “FF” and appreciate that it’s a bit different from most of the other Marvel books I’m reading, it’s still hard to believe anything of real consequence will happen. The book feels enjoyable but decidedly slight and with this many new ongoing series from Marvel, that’s a dangerous place for this book to be.
While Fraction’s writing for Bentley, Mik, Korr, Turg and Tong is hilariously adorable, his writing for Jen and Wyatt felt stiff and lacked charm. The couple felt like they were on a horribly boring date with zero chemistry or intrigue and I couldn’t help but find myself wishing that Bentley’s plans would go right for once so readers could all be saved from the date.
Allred’s style is such a departure from most of mainstream comics that it’s a delight to read his books. His art feels refreshing and clean in comparison to so much other noise. He’s also a great choice as an artist for the comedic and light tone Fraction seems to be going for in “FF.” Unfortunately, there were a few legitimately confusing moments in the storytelling during this issue that left me scratching my head. In fact, all of the machinations for Bentley and crew lack clarity — especially the scene in which Bentley calls forth Blarrgh The Unliving. So for every utterly brilliant choice (like how Allred chooses to render Jen and Wyatt’s page of dancing), there’s a choice that just doesn’t come across (like what happens to the sky outside as a malfunction of ‘The Fantastic Core.’) It’s an odd experience to not fully comprehend Allred’s storytelling as I generally consider him a master, but something is off in this issue and it just doesn’t work. Additionally, the choice to have such heavy snowfall in many of the panels is distracting and not visually worth the trouble.
All in all, I’d say half of this book works like gangbusters and the other half falls short. From a writing standpoint, everything that relates to Bentley and his crew including the shocking cliffhanger is fantastic, but Jen’s date is a weak spot that readers have to return to time and again. Meanwhile Allred’s art varies from absolutely stunning to lacking clarity from page to page, making this an inconsistent issue at best.