Dwayne McDuffie continues with his refreshingly old school take on the Fantastic Four with this issue.
The last issue ended in an old fashioned cliffhanger, and this issue puts that ending to good use, as Wizard and his Frightful Four are giving Sue Richards guff over the seeming demise of her husband in the previous issue.
McDuffie plays the Wizard as a bit more sadistic than I would like, but really, it's not like the Wizard has seen any manner of consistent portrayals in comics, so him being a bit more sadistic than normal is not that unusual.
The key delight for me in this issue is the way that McDuffie works in a number of nice character points around what is a very standard superhero/supervillain fight. Even without the character points, the superhero/supervillain fight is handled quite well - it's about as strong as a standard fight scene can get.
But when you factor in the character work, it gives the book a nice depth that makes it all the more enjoyable. Like Reed's rage at the Wizard, T'Challa's comments regarding Reed being distracted by his wife's condition, and most especially, the debate over the Wizard's motivations (cute meta-moment where McDuffie has T'Challa comment that a lot of people seem to have a problem with him having so many achievements).
I really wish that McDuffie had played around more, though, with the idea of a FIFTH member of the Frightful Four before showing us the fifth member in the end. It's a clever concept, and it's not really addressed in the comic, as the appearance of Klaw is a cliffhanger. Maybe a line like "Why do you think we would be limited to just FOUR members?" or something like that. Klaw's appearance, by the way, is probably a bit low on the cliffhanger scale (as when was the last time anyone said, "Oh MAN! It's freakin' KLAW!!!"?), but it isn't awful.
Having Klaw show up is going to be interesting, too, because I bet McDuffie is going to use this as an opportunity to clarify Reginald Hudlin's changes in continuity regarding Klaw and T'Challa's relationship.
I enjoyed Paul Pelletier's artwork in the issue, especially on the Thing.
However, I know a reader, Ye Olde Iowa, had some problems with artist Paul Pelletier's depictions of Storm and T'Challa. This is what he wrote awhile back:
My problem with Pelletier's art is that he is taking a very base stereotype and exaggerating it to ridiculous proportions on Black Panther and Storm to the point that they only vaguely look human in certain panels. While it is true that people of African descent (as well as people of European descent, Asian descent, etc all cover a wide spectrum of appereances) Pelletier chose to go right for insulting stereotypes by drawing the characters with ape-like facial features. It's demeaning and insulting.
Here's a page from the comic:
Reader GarBut thinks it is a bit unfair to not post a page from the comic Ye Olde Iowa was referring to, which is fair enough, so here's a page from that issue...
I can see why he thinks that Pelletier is going a bit over the top with the lips, but I don't think it is nearly as pronounced as Ye Olde Iowa seems to think it is, and I certainly don't see them as being "ape-like," so I really don't have a problem with it.
How about you folks?
In any event, another fun, action-filled issue from McDuffie, with nice artwork from Pelletier.