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The Great Hunt

August 2, 2010

Just before Jonathan Hickman tears the Fantastic Four apart, he gives us a two-part story linking together his work on this title and S.H.I.E.L.D.  Fantastic Four #581 begins with future Franklin Richards returning to his time (which is basically white nothing) and meeting with future Valeria Richards and his grandfather, Nathaniel Richards.  Seems Franklin’s visit to our time was on Nathaniel’s behest.  He and Valeria now have their own things to do, obviously involving some complex plan to save time, and Franklin starts creating a pocket reality for them to go to when everything’s over.  In the past, Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Doom spar in a philosophy class in college.  Obviously before they get those names.  When Reed meets with his roommate, the pre-Thing Ben Grimm, they are visited by Nathaniel.  After a warm reunion, Nathaniel explains that his encounter with the Night Machine not only gave him power over time and stopped his aging, it brought all of his alternate selves into this one timeline.  Immortus, now working for the Time Variance Authority, ordered all but one of the Nathaniels killed, and he gave them the option to decide who lives.  So they started killing each other, and now, there are only two left.  Nathaniel came to say goodbye, but Reed refuses to let things stand.  He reluctantly asks Doom for help in saving his father, and Doom, amused ad Reed asking for help, acquiesces after extracting some humble words out of him.  He gives Ben some kind of powerful exoskeleton (looks familiar) and brings a helmet that lets him read minds and dominate wills.  In the present day, future Valeria visits the Invisible Woman.  Then, Reed, Ben, Doom, and Nathaniel arrive in some strange version of Chronopolis.  There, they meet the other remaining Nathaniel, the creator of this Chronopolis, who is ready to end the Great Hunt.

Well, I like seeing Hickman tie this book into S.H.I.E.L.D.  Especially since Nathaniel is a common thread between them.  He’s tying that story into whatever is going on with the Four Cities and all that jazz.  Okay, so I’m still not a fan of future Franklin and Valeria, since dystopian futures and time traveling together are such a cliche.  But considering that it’s Nathaniel, it makes sense.  And Hickman does a good job with it.  Nathaniel’s choice to visit Reed in this time also makes sense, even if it does seem like there’s more to it than just what he said.  Now, there are some continuity goofs with Immortus.  First of all, he hasn’t really been seen since Avengers Forever.  It would be nice if there was an explanation as to why he’s working with the Time Variance Authority.  Or does Hickman think he was always working with them?  Because that’s wrong.  I’d also like to see a connection between this and Immortus’ appearance in Avengers, but I doubt that’s happening.  Plus, if this is supposed to be the one and only Chronopolis, we all know that Chronopolis was Kang the Conqueror’s domain.  Then again, Kang’s name is Nathaniel Richards, and we’ve always wondered why he shares Nathaniel’s name.  Could it be that Hickman will finally answer that question?  It’s very interesting, so I can excuse the possible mistakes.  And Hickman also does a great job with characterizing younger Reed, Ben, and Doom.  Plus, Neil Edwards’ work continues to improve.  There are virtually no really ugly faces in this issue, a big improvement over the last issue, and everything just looks more solid in general.  He’s still definitely a poor man’s Bryan Hitch, but as he gets better, maybe he’ll start to grow into his own.  Even though we have this earth-shattering storyline just on the horizon, this little two-parter is proving to be Hickman’s best story since the opening arc.  I’m excited to see where this goes, and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen with Nathaniel Richards, Kang, and Immortus.

Plot: 8.8      Art: 8.4      Dialogue: 9.2      Overall: 8.8

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