If you were waiting for a time to get back into Marvel comics, now is the time. The Marvel universe, not to mention its fans, are still reeling from the death of Human Torch, beloved member of the Fantastic Four, not to mention one of Marvel’s very first superheroes. FF #1 is the beginning of a new age, as the family–no longer the Fantastic Four, but the Future Foundation–continues to work through their grief and loss, and adds a new member to the team: Spider-Man.
See the review after the jump!
I haven’t been reading Fantastic Four lately, though I did get up to speed on the events leading to Johnny’s death (he died saving his niece and nephew from a horde of alien bugs in the Negative Zone). Even though I wasn’t fully up to speed on all of the parts of the story, I enjoyed it, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.
The pain of losing Johnny is palpable, and each member of the family is handling grief differently; the Thing is isolated and filled with rage and guilt, Frederick keeps Johnny’s regular seat vacant, and Sue refuses to be alone with her thoughts. This isn’t a happy story, but it feels real and raw; the panels with the Thing were quite powerful. Hickman writes the family dynamic well, and I do love the new costumes. And even with the pain there are moments of levity, especially casual family-dinner conversations about terraforming the moon. Spider-Man will make a great addition to the team. He has a lighter, witter side much like Human Torch, though I’m sure the writers will respect Johnny’s memory enough to not make the two the same.
Admittedly, there were quite a few things that I didn’t understand, as a relatively new reader, and I wasn’t familiar with the members of the Future Foundation, and the villain Wizard who, forgive me, looks like a parody of Magneto. These elements didn’t bog me down or deter me from enjoying the story, and there’s a helpful character guide at the back for us newbies.
It is somewhat impossible to discuss the death of a superhero, even a major one, without some degree of cynicism. After the Death of Superman phenomenon back in the 90’s, and the huuuge profit DC reaped from it, much hype has been made of multiple high-profile hero deaths, only for them to come back to life–we’ve recently seen the deaths and resurrections of Batman and Captain America. I have little doubt that Human Torch will make a return, especially because his death was not explicitly shown. However, I do hope that Marvel takes their time. FF #1 marks a great opportunity for change, character growth, and powerful storytelling within the Fantastic Four. The power of superhero storytelling in general is hugely diminished when death is no longer a threat–those characters who have died and not returned, like Gert Yorkes, are so deeply missed for that reason.
Next up: reviews of Batman Inc #4 and Secret Six #31! Stay tuned!