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The Last City

May 4, 2010

     The last of the four cities is revealed in Fantastic Four #578, and it’s all because the Human Torch had the hots for some random hot girl.  Again.  While at some strange club called the Other Side of Zero, Johnny meets said girl.  They head back to the Baxter Building, where she reveals that she hit on him for a very specific purpose.  She spouts some crazy philosophy stuff about dying here while living in the Negative Zone, and she bursts into multiple freaky bug thing, one of them carrying a bomb.  They go into the Negative Zone, and Johnny pursues.  The bugs use the bomb to take out some kind of defensive grid, and a swarm appears.  See, the Other Side of Zero is actually the recruitment arm for the Cult of the Negative Zone, which worships Annihilus.  And thanks to Johnny, the defensive grid of the city that was built where 42, the prison, once stood, is gone.  So the Annihilation Wave, which is now at tip-top shape again, is beating the crap out of Blastaar’s forces within the city.  Valeria Richards takes this all in and notes that the fourth city is here.  Johnny also neglects to mention to her that he endangered her and everyone else by leaving  the Negative Zone potral open.  Elsewhere, Andromeda, envoy of Namor, chastises the kings of the Antarctica Atlantis, who raise their city up to the surface in response.  Mr. Fantastic talks to Johnny about his mistake and about responsibility, and elsewhere, the Inhumans on the moon send their Light Brigade to the Negative Zone to prove the Inhumans’ worth.

     Well, that was all rather confusing at times.  I must say, this whole arc really feels so much like a Grant Morrison story than a Jonathan Hickman one.  Lots of crazy ideas.  The stuff that the cult people talked about really seemed a lot like the stuff Darkseid and his cronies talked about in Final Crisis with the Anti-Life Equation.  Anyway, this arc is over, and I can’t say that I was terribly impressed.  I mean, it was entertaining.  But rather than give us meaningful character work or a thoughtful story, we just get a whole lot of exposition wrapped up in what seems like forward movement.  After all, wasn’t this arc purely about the establishment of the four cities?  This issue was better than the previous three, since Johnny got into a cool fight, and something actually happened in the Negative Zone.  Hickman is really tying into the cosmic side of Marvel with this story too.  But there should have been a lot more forward momentum than this.  The character work in this issue with Johnny and Reed was pretty good, though.  Johnny’s still Johnny, but as Reed said, everyone’s changing.  So rather than Reed just yell at Johnny, he gives him more thoughtful criticism.  That was actually very smart on Hickman’s part to illustrate how the Fantastic Four are changing.  Dave Eaglesham’s art is typically superb in this issue, though I still can’t stand his buffed-up Reed redesign.  I’m also confused as to why characters’ costumes seem to be changing rather often in the last few years, from their classic ones , to the Bryan Hitch redesigns, to something inbetween.  And occasionally switching between the something inbetween and the classic ones.  Some consistency would be nice.  So yes, this arc was very interesting with a lot of whole ideas.  I just wish that some of them could have born fruit now, and the excitement been better spaced, rather than have to wait later for all of these ideas to pay off.  I’m not really worried about Hickman’s run on this book, but I’d say the way this arc was planned out relative to the rest of his run wasn’t the best it could have been.

Plot: 8.5      Art: 9.0      Dialogue: 8.6      Overall: 8.4

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