If this is how Jonathan Hickman is going to write the Fantastic Four, then I am definitely looking forward until he has the book full time.
First off, who do I thank for the change in Sean Chen's artwork? Sean Chen has always been a good artist - nice, solid, dependable superhero style, but I've always found his work a bit TOO crisp. Remember when Tom Palmer was assigned the inker job on Chen's Wolverine? That was nuts, because Palmer's dark, moody style completely clashed with Chen's bright, clean style. However, in this issue, whether it was Chen himself, inker Lorenzo Ruggiero or perhaps colorist John Rauch, SOMEbody made Chen's art look a whole lot less crisp, and the humanizing factor really worked quite nicely. I enjoyed the art a lot. I hope Chen uses this style in the future.
While I am not a huge fan of having Reed beat himself up some more for the bad characterizations of past Fantastic Four writers, and I was fine with McDuffie's "Hey, let's just sweep it all under the rug and forget it!" approach, which paved the way for Mark Millar's current "How about we just tell some good Fantastic Four stories and not worry about where it all ties into current Marvel continuity?," I can understand that Marvel likes to tie stuff together, so if we are going to have the Fantastic Four tie into current Marvel continuity, and with a title like "Fantastic Four: Dark Reign," I think it is clear that we ARE going to have the Fantastic Four tie into current Marvel continuity, then at least I trust Hickman to do a good job showing Reed atoning for his actions during Civil War.
But really, that's just the assignment for this series, that's certainly not what has me looking forward to Hickman's run - what has me looking forward to his run is the way in which he more or less nails the various characters of the Fantastic Four. He even had Johnny and Ben have an amusing conversation with each other. I can't even recall the last time THAT's happened - Reagan might have been President.
Also, you have to love the fact that when Reed wants to work through his issues, he builds a gigantic machine. That's sooooo Reed.
And of course, being a comic book, thinks don't work out the way Reed planned, and hijinx ensue.
So Hickman definitely has a good handle on the group, and luckily, he'll be able to clear out the whole "explain Reed's Civil War actions" out of the way BEFORE he takes over the title with Dale Eaglesham, and then he'll be able to concentrate on the future!
A future that looks promising with a writer like Jonathan Hickman at the helm.