Credit where it’s due: “Fantastic Four” #602 feels more like a big, world-shattering epic than quite a few of Marvel’s big “event” mini-series in recent years. This storyline started out a little slow, but by this point it’s starting to feel like everything’s skidding towards disaster for our heroes.
Jonathan Hickman’s pacing in this issue feels perfect. This is, after all, a comic which opens with two space armadas attacking one another with debris raining down on Earth, and then things get bigger and worse. There’s a perfect progression of magnitude here, with each new element that comes on deck bigger than the one before.
The cast feels like they’re all in place here; the Invisible Woman and Human Torch in particular get a nice spotlight in the battle, each of them showing their skills but also their determination. These aren’t brand-new heroes, after all; it’s nice to see them shown as the seasoned veterans that they are.
More importantly, when the initial enemy is defeated, it’s with such a wonderful casualness that it’s almost a nod to the reader that this first barrier is gone only because there’s something much bigger and more dangerous about to come on deck. While one of the surprises is ruined by the cover (oops!), there’s still enough other good stuff packed in here as well. It’s also worth noting that “FF” #14 (also out this week) directly feeds into “Fantastic Four” #602 in a way that lets each comic stand apart, but when read together (I’d read “Fantastic Four” first, as Hickman suggests) gives a satisfying big picture that each on their own doesn’t provide. It’s an impressive feat; I wouldn’t have felt like I was missing anything had I only read “Fantastic Four” this month, but the two work together in a way that rewards those who pick them both up.
Barry Kitson provides the art this month, and overall it’s good. I love the way he draws characters like Medusa, all fury and majesty with hair swirling furiously around in a way that feels like the motion is actually coming to life on the page. Occasionally someone looks slightly off-model, though; the “Wrong world…” panel of Sue looks like singer Aimee Mann temporary stepped in, especially compared to the other drawings of the character on the same page. When it comes to a crowded spacecraft full of the Fantastic Four, Kree soldiers and the Annihilation Wave all crammed into one room and fighting, though? Call Kitson. Everyone looks distinct and individual even as you still get that sense of close quarters and desperation. Good stuff.
“Fantastic Four” #602 kicks the current storyline into high gear, and just in time. If this momentum continues, we should have a fairly satisfying “Fantastic Four” epic when all is said and done.