“FF” #7 wraps up the storyline involving the Wizard and Blastaar kidnapping Bentley-23, Medusa and the rest of the Future Foundation, but that’s not the important part of this comic. The big thing for me is that with this issue, Matt Fraction and Michael Allred have completely settled into finding a strong voice for “FF,” one readers can depend on to provide fun every month. And for me, that’s a big victory.
“FF” has a huge cast (four main members, twelve kids under their care, and the possibly-returned Human Torch) and it’s much to Fraction’s credit that even though we rarely see all of them each month, it never feels like we aren’t getting enough of the characters. Fraction’s been rotating them around month in and month out, so sometimes we get a spotlight on She-Hulk, the next time it might be Bentley-23 and Medusa. It’s very much an old school “Legion of Super-Heroes” approach, and I like it. In many ways it helps solidify the feeling that “FF” has become a strange extended family in its own right, as the different characters bustle back and forth, support one another, and push each other to the forefront as the situation warrants it.
The plot itself feels at times almost incidental to the character arcs, but it’s still satisfying. The defeat of the Wizard and Blastaar is fun (the latter tying into recent issues of “Fantastic Four”), and it’s nice to see some of the kids in the mix to help with that victory as they use their own special abilities. More important, though, is the character growth for the others. Bentley-23’s position among the Future Foundation is the most prominent one, of course, but I was especially impressed with what Fraction does with both Scott Lang and Darla Deering this issue. Lang’s still-emotionally-damaged personality is taking early steps towards healing, and I love Darla’s answer to the rhetorical, “Who are you?” question. It’s a little verbose, sure, but it’s also Darla in a nutshell and it makes me love her inclusion that much more. With the little interactions presented between Darla and Scott, it’s a great little moment that no matter what the direction holds a lot of promise.
Allred’s art is strong as ever. At this point if you’ve ever encountered a comic drawn by Allred you’ll know what to expect; smooth ink lines, fun expressions, limber characters, and most importantly a sense of fun. The warped Negative Zone version of the Future Foundation building is silly and great, the robot containing the four Moloids is so entertaining I wish it hadn’t been relegated to the background, and the invention created by Bentley-23 looks wonderfully retro. Add in a good ability to draw fight scenes and we end up with a winner from Allred, once again.
“FF” #7 is one of those books that feels like a comfortable old bathrobe. It’s just pleasant to slip into on a regular basis. “FF” has turned into a book that feels — even more so than “Fantastic Four” these days — all about family. And that’s something I appreciate. This might be a group of random misfit characters thrown together, but you know what? They make it work.