You know what I'm finding myself loving about Jonathan Hickman's run on "Fantastic Four?" It's how he's able to take a simple event like Franklin Richards' birthday and have it still advance a larger story without having to resort to things like, "The Trapster attacks and imprisons all the little kids."
Re-reading the issue, it's fun to see how much Hickman packs into his scripts. While the main plot of Franklin's birthday party is moving forwards, Hickman continues to build his supporting cast, and brings back the old Human Torch/Spider-Man rivalry. The new characters Hickman is adding are particularly entertaining, because the amount of possibilities with all of these younger characters has enough story fodder for years, and that's before you add in their interactions with the main characters. As for the end of the issue, Hickman is setting in motion other stories, with a particularly fun-sounding prophecy of doom.
Of course, all of this is fine and dandy, but let's not forget about the birthday party itself. I love that Franklin and his friends get to act like the kids that they are. So often children are written like incredibly short adults, but that's not the case here. Their glee over the entertainment is infectious, and watching the presents being received made me almost clap my hands with excitement.
I wish I was more excited about the art, because it's almost but not quite there. On the plus side, Neil Edwards and Andrew Currie capture that clean look that regular artist Dale Eaglesham is bringing to the book. What I'm not crazy about, though, is how he draws the children. There are a couple too many slack-jawed, gaping expressions on the kids for my tastes, making them all look a little stupid at times. (I'm also not sure who's mistake resulted in Artie having a line of dialogue halfway through the issue, but surely someone should have caught that before it saw print.) Still, there are enough other good bits in the art (I love the backgrounds that Val and her mysterious visitor have, for example) that I think with a little time Edwards would be a good choice for artist should Eaglesham ever leave.
It's hard to believe we're only five issues into "Fantastic Four" with Hickman, but I'm quite a fan already. Hopefully Hickman and Marvel are both enjoying the experience as well, because I'd love to see this be the start of a very long relationship. "Fantastic Four" is finally fantastic again.