“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.
This issue establishes the team. We already know this FF team, tasked with four minutes to take over the reins Reed Richards usually holds so tightly, comprises of Ant-Man (Scott Lang), She-Hulk, Medusa and the newly coined Ms Thing (Darla Deering). “FF” #1 sees different members of the Fantastic Four seek them out and ask them to be their personal replacement – brains, muscle, heart and a certain je ne sais quoi. Interspersed through the issue are video clips of the young Future Foundation members talking to Ant-Man about the FF. It’s a lot of talking, some character moments through dialect and action, but very little in the way of plot or anything to make this issue memorable. In effect, what Fraction and Allred present are character portraits in motion. While they’re relatively well executed, they don’t make for an engaging story of any kind.
“FF” does dovetail nicely with the #1 issue of “Fantastic Four,” but both titles have sadly suffered from a failure to launch. They’re well made pages that add up to very little. It is unfortunate that Fraction is tasked with introducing such a large cast. The many inhabitants of the Baxter Building clog the flow and mean the two books don’t feel like they’ll launch until the next issue.
Michael Allred’s art is pretty in an almost design sense. With the aid of Laura Allred’s colors, this book looks like pop art brought to the superhero world. This is the Allred M.O. but it’s hard to see if it’ll match this book. Readers can’t determine the tone Fraction plans for the series in this issue. So far, we know Allred draws an extremely pretty She-Hulk. The creative team looks up to the task, but readers will have to wait for the next issue to know with any certainty.
“FF” #1 isn’t a bad book, it’s just not much of an issue. An installment of conversations might work if it were doing more than setting up the established status quo many fans already know through familiarity with the promotional material for the series. Perhaps someone coming to the title completely fresh will have a different experience, but all I could do was walk away from it hoping the next issue actually starts the title.