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The Bowels of the Earth

February 16, 2010

     After two straight months of small, not entirely interesting stories, Jonathan Hickman reunites with Dave Eaglesham to tell the next chapter in his ongoing Fantastic Four saga.  The Fantastic Four scramble when a trio of Moloids, one reduced to nothing more than a head after being hit by a car, comes into the Baxter Building.  They herald the arrival of the Mole Man, who asks the Fantastic Four for help in dealing with a group of devolved, super-intelligent Moloids (yes, you read that right) that plan to raise the High Evolutionary’s old city.  At first, this seems like nothing more than Mole Man’s arrogance, but he explains that when these intelligent Moloids breed, they produce Moloids with the same intelligence, but with their original features.  They cast out those children because they remind them of their past and kidnap more of Mole Man’s servants.  The Thing can’t help but feel some kinship with these “monsters.”  When they arrive at the city, they find it already rising, so there is little they can do.  However, the Thing breaks into the city to rescue the Moloid children and gets devolved himself, his head growing to DCAU Ultra-Humanite proportions.  In the end, the Mole Man slinks away, and the Fantastic Four gaze upon the city, now on the surface of the continental U.S.  The city shortly later makes a bid for sovereignty in the international community.

     Well, I am very glad that we are past those past two issues.  The former was terrible, and the latter was solid, but not very exciting.  It also seems to have garnered a lot of flak for use of the word “retard.”  Admittedly, that did stick out at me when I read it as well, but I’m not as mad as other people.  At any rate, this is an interesting start to a new storyline.  It is supposed to be about four cities, each representing one of the classical Western elements, with the High Evolutionary’s city representing earth.  But I can’t hep but feel like this first issue was a bunch of missed opportunities.  This story in of itself could be a whole arc, with great character moments for both the Thing and Mole Man.  However, we get rushed into the story with no little Fantastic Four life vignettes (which is what I loved about the Mark Waid/Mike Wieringo run, among other things), and we barely even get to see the devolved Moloids.  It’s a good story, but I feel like Hickman set the bar higher in the first arc.  The art is definitely improved, with Dave Eaglesham getting the Thing’s face down better and making Mr. Fantastic look a bit more like Mr. Fantastic than Doc Savage.  Obviously, this is a setup for what is to be a major, six issue arc.  I just would have liked a start that was more exciting, more indicative of Hickman’s skill, like the first issue of his run.

Plot: 7.9      Art: 9.2      Dialogue: 8.8      Overall: 8.2

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