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Chain Reactions | FF #1

by  in Comic News Comment
Chain Reactions | <i>FF #1</i>

The Marvel NOW line-up continues to roll out first issues galore, with this past Wednesday bringing the snappiest-looking relaunch so far–FF #1 by Matt Fraction, Michael Allred, Laura Allred and Clayton Cowles. The sister title to Marvel’s original first family, FF #1 features a hand-picked replacement team that’s needed to fill in for Reed and company for a whole four minutes. What could possibly go wrong?

If you were on the fence about the title, here are a few opinions from around the web to help you decide which way to fall:

Ryan K. Lindsay, Comic Book Resources: “FF #1 looked to be the wildest book of the Marvel NOW! line up: Matt Fraction and Michael Allred on a crazy new science team for the Fantastic Four world. It was one of those books that was either going to be too good to be true or belly flop hard. Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t give much of an indicator either way except to leave worry it’s not off to a dazzling start — not that it feels like it’s started yet.”

Matthew Meylikhov, Multiversity Comics: “Here’s why FF works: with the massive creator switch-ups at Marvel, we’re given a version of the New 52 idea with the condition that continuity remains in tact. Everything Hickman did with the characters ‘still happened,’ and there’s no white-washing of history when it comes to the colossal endeavors that he brought to the book, meaning anything that comes after has to respect and reflect all of his work. With that in mind, though, Fraction is a very different writer from Hickman, to the extent that without having read a page of the issue you know it’ll be remarkably different in form and fashion. The key, then, is to make sure the transition feels organic, that it doesn’t play off as Fraction ignoring Hickman’s work, let alone all that came before it — and with just a few slights of hand, that’s exactly what’s accomplished here before you even know it.”

Rob at Crisis on Infinite Midlives: “This issue splits its focus between Thing, Susan, Johnny and Reed making their pitches to She-Hulk, Medusa, Ms. Thing and Ant-Man, respectively, to take their places on the FF while the team is gone (although Johnny’s ‘pitch’ is more like a ‘throw,’ and his ‘line of reasoning’ more closely resembles his ‘meat.’), and between the children who are members of the FF answering questions ostensibly asked by Ant-Man, but addressed directly to the reader. This is one hell of a good way to introduce new readers to a team with a few new and a lot of existing characters, as it gives some face time with damn near everyone and gives a sense as to who the kids are, and why the Fantastic Four is asking the people they’re asking to be their surrogates.”

Daniel Cole, A Comic Book Blog: “However the star of the book is Michael Allred. His style is such a breath of fresh air and he has delivered the most visually engaging book Marvel have on the shelves right now. His stunning layouts and excellent character work produce a treat for the eyes that is deceptively simple. Laura Allred’s vibrant colours allow the artwork to jump out at you. This is a book that has such a unique look and allows the FF to have a distinct tone, which suits Fraction’s script.”

Don MacPherson, Eye on Comics: “Allred’s simple and quirky style is always appealing and entertaining, and his Silver Age sensibilities and influences serve the characters incredibly well. His take on the Thing is the most reminiscent of what the late Jack Kirby did with the character he co-created decades ago. Furthermore, Ant-Man’s new mode of transport is exactly the kind of thing Kirby would have designed (and did, if one compares it to DC’s Orion’s gear). Now, Allred’s style is typically a less-is-more approach, but there are panels and pages in and on which he demonstrates a strong eye for detail. The aerial view of Manhattan he delivers in the scene featuring Invisible Woman and Medusa is stunning. His redesign of the Ant-Man outfit is striking, but honestly, it’s such a strong representation of his design sense, I’m doubtful other artists would be able to do it justice. Furthermore, the emotion the artist instills in Ant-Man’s face really conveys his tormented state of mind. Laura Allred’s vibrant colors further reinforce the old-school comics storytelling approach, making for fun and engaging visuals throughout the issue.”

George Marston, Newsarama: “While it isn’t quite the treatise on first issues that Fraction’s Fantastic Four #1 proved to be, FF #1 offers an immensely promising start, showcasing, again, Fraction’s take on each member of this admittedly large and bizarre cast. The real test of this title will come as these characters start moving into the larger world, having adventures, interacting with each other instead of, ostensibly, the reader, and finding their own dynamic. This issue more than proves that Fraction and Allred have the chops to make this the kind of book that, like Fraction’s Hawkeye, can push its expectations to the limit, they just need to quickly start doing so, lest FF become a sit-com instead of pop-art sci-fi.”

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