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Now to Solve Everything

July 28, 2009

     For a while now, I’ve felt like Dark Reign: Fantastic Four is the real series, and the normal Fantastic Four series is either a What If or something that will just get the crap retconned out of it in a short while, since it’s so terrible.  Jonathan Hickman has a much better grasp on the characters and the dynamics of the F4 than Mark Millar, though he does struggle with Millar’s one lasting and interesting contribution to the title, which is Valeria’s intelligence.  In the last issue of the miniseries, the F4 face down Norman Osborn as he threatens to shoot Franklin and Valeria.  The Invisible Woman deals with him and his reinforcements, and when he pulls a gun on Mr. Fantastic (which I’m not sure would even actually hurt him, on account of the rubber body), Franklin shoots him.  With a toy gun.  Methinks Valeria did some tinkering with that.  Mr. Fantastic intimidates Osborn until he leaves, and the Invisible Woman asks him if all the crap they just went through in alternate universes was worth the trouble.  We find out that Mr. Fantastic met all these other Reeds who built similar machines too.  Sue tells him to dismantle the machine, and Reed says he’ll do so piece by piece.  But then he builds it right back up again.  And he decides that he must use it and the knowledge he gains from his alternate selves to solve all the problems of the world, since he’s that smart and he must.

     I love that Hickman has finally decided to have Reed truly realize how great his intelligence is.  Reed’s faux-humility has always been annoying, and although it makes sense, it’s about time that we had some development on that front.  I also love that Franklin got his moment to shine.  Sure, he shot someone.  With a toy gun.  But he stood up to Norman Osborn, who most people in the U.S. are running away from or bowing down to.  Except Namor.  And Loki.  And Dr. Doom.  And the Mighty Avengers.  Well, okay, there’s a lot of superhumans who aren’t bowing down to him.  But I like seeing the F4 as a family stand up to him.  It really gets to the root of their dynamic in a way that Mark Millar just doesn’t get.  And I have the same complaint about Sean Chen that I always had.  Good artist, but he doesn’t fit with the series.  And actually, he’s not so good at drawing the Thing.  That especially shows here.  Now, I’m really looking forward to Hickman’s run on the main series.  I am a bit worried, from what I’ve seen, that Dave Eaglesham’s Mr. Fantastic will look too much like Hawkman and Green Lantern (Alan Scott).  You know, too buff and regal looking.  But that’s a minor beef.  Hickman is going to save the F4 from one run of mediocrity (Dwayne McDuffie) and one run of crap (Millar).  If he doesn’t, then there is no hope for this series in the modern day.

Plot: 8.8      Art: 8.3      Dialogue: 8.6      Overall: 8.7

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