As “FF” begins to wind down and prepare for a big conclusion alongside “Fantastic Four,” series writer Matt Fraction has unfortunately had to leave the full writing position behind. While a whole host of Allreds are doing their best to keep the ship going — Lee Allred on script, Michael Allred on art, Laura Allred on colors — “FF” #13’s trip to the Blue Area of the Moon feels like a funny story that’s being told third-hand and is missing some of the punch lines.
The basic thrust of the story, co-plotted by Fraction and Lee Allred, holds a lot of promise. A crazy romp by the kids on the Blue Side of the Moon, the Watcher and his girlfriend being held captive should have been funny and entertaining, with a bit of drama mixed in as Scott Lang has to confront Alex Power about his betraying the team to try and save his family. Mapped out in an outline, it sounds to be a riot.
The flow of the issue, though, doesn’t feel quite there. You can see where the humor in Uatu’s discussion with Scott should be, but it’s very flat and lacks that extra little spring in its step that “FF” had for most of its current run. Likewise, the multiple Red Ghosts running around should have been far funnier, but they also fall a little flat. (The mists of endless time loops are also mentioned in such a passing manner that it’s actually fairly easy to miss why there are so many Red Ghosts.) That said, the scene with the bananas made me grin, and Scott Lang’s struggling with his feelings towards Dr. Doom are handled well. It’s got to be a little though for Lee Allred to work off of someone else’s plot when it was conceived by someone as whimsical as Fraction, and the edges are still a little rough.
Michael Allred and Laura Allred’s art, though, looks as lovely as ever. The different Red Ghosts all are clearly the same character even as their differences spring out at the reader, and the sheepish and dejected look on Alex’s face as Scott confronts him is almost heartbreaking. And when it comes to the apes finding the bananas? Well, it’s the physical comedy that helps sell that scene; they’re so adorable when interacting with the Moloid kids that it’s hard to not just stop and smile. Even something as chaotic as the big fight scene between the Red Ghosts and the kids works; there are bodies and limbs all over the place, but as soon as you focus on any part of the page it all snaps into focus.
“FF” #13 is helping the comic prepare for its wrap-up, and even more than “Fantastic Four,” it’s a shame that Fraction wasn’t available to be hands on for these last few chapters. With time Lee Allred’s scripts may very well get a bit smoother, but for now the sudden creative shift has slightly disrupted a normally far more entertaining comic.