I have to give everyone involved with the “Franklin Richards” one-shots that they’re still awfully funny. It would be pretty easy for the jokes to grow stale and tired, but they aren’t — even though they often go across the same basic premises and ideas. But where “Franklin Richards: April Fools!” succeeds is in its comic timing. So for example, in the opening story, Franklin decides the best way to get out of going to school is to fake being sick. Finding a container of the flu in Mr. Fantastic’s infectious disease lab, one dosage later and Franklin’s sick with… what exactly did that vial say it contained, anyway?
It’s at that point that Eliopoulos really hits his marks, switching up the status quo on a rapid-fire basis so that the joke never gets old, knowing not only when to make Franklin’s illnesses get sillier, but also when to bring the story to a close. This is, after all, just one of six different stories, and by breaking the issue up into these short vignettes, it keeps each joke from overstaying its welcome.
Some stories are certainly stronger than others, of course. The “April Fools Fiasco!” has a really nice opening that uses the members of the Fantastic Four pretty well, and “Sick Day!” is the kind of story that takes the perfect childhood scam and one-ups it in a “I live with a super-genius father” kind of way. And as someone who always cringed at the saccharinely sweet “Not Me!” strips in “The Family Circus,” Eliopoulos’s “Who Dunnit?!” had me chuckling for a couple of minutes with what feels like a perfect response to those comics.
Eliopoulos’ art is as charming as ever, with simple but sweet drawings of Franklin, H.E.R.B.I.E. the robot, and Puppy the time-traveling bulldog. (Puppy’s utter cuteness makes me for the first time ever see the appeal in Lockjaw from the Inhumans.) I love the wide-eyed looks of delight that Franklin gets on his face, and when Eliopoulos draws a sad Franklin, well, it actually makes me feel a little crushed.
Marvel’s “Franklin Richards” one-shots continue to be a lot of fun, that kind of comic that really does have an appeal for all-ages. I’m just glad Marvel keeps publishing them, because they’re just the right thing to life your spirits on a low day, and that’s no fooling.