Reed and Sue Richards' mega-brilliant daughter Valeria Richards revealed last issue that Dr. Doom must be part of Reed’s new Future Foundation. Reed’s time traveling father agrees. Ben Grimm/The Thing and Sue Richards/The Invisible Woman do not. The point is almost moot though as Doom is still suffering from the effects of his recent brain damage. He’s unable to conjure or use the dark arts and he is laboring under “reduced intelligence.” For Doom this is a huge travesty. He is, along side Reed, one of the most intelligent men who ever lived. He’s also one of the most egotistical men who ever lived. In order for Doom to fulfill his destined role with the Future Foundation his mind must be restored. Of course, by putting the brilliant Richards minds together, along with that of the pretty intelligent (compared to these heavyweights) Spider-Man, the solution eventually presents itself. Once restored though, Doom and Val reveal that there was a singular purpose for Val’s insistence on Doom’s restoration and inclusion in Foundation. The two made a deal, and it’s one of questionable motivation…
Hickman continues to deliver some incredibly entertaining and intelligent stories as the head writer of the Marvel Universe’s First Family. The troublesome problem of allying themselves with Doom, the snarkily hilarious revelation by Mik (one of the Foundation’s junior members) that “The Spider-Man also possesses a formidable intellect. Impressive,” Reed’s moment of near moral lapse during the restoration of Doom’s brain function, Ben’s usual "clobbering-time" temper, Sue’s unique and potentially deadly powers, and the ultimate reveal of just why Doom is so necessary to the Foundation (as revealed in the “Next Issue” image at the end of the book) all come together to create a massively fun, disturbing, thoughtful, hilarious, and moving second chapter in Hickman’s new age of Fantastic Four stories. Rarely does one see a writer who can weave so many elements into one single issue as effortlessly as Hickman does and not have the story feel off balance or too rushed. Hickman’s pacing is flawless. So much happens in this issue, both emotionally and physically, yet it doesn’t feel labored or dragged. Hickman really is the new face of quality superhero comic book writing. He’s moving into Geoff Johns territory here, and I do not make that statement lightly.
It takes an artist with a great talent for capturing and communicating body language and facial expression, not to mention the essential strong grasp on action choreography, to pull off a tale as massively laden with meaning and import as “Doom Nation." Steve Epting fills the bill exceptionally. Epting’s brilliant attention to detail and realism creates the perfect atmosphere for Hickman’s stories of high sci-fi fantasy that deals with ideas so super scientific in nature that they could easily fall victim to silly generic portrayal. Instead, Epting’s detailed realism brings Hickman and the FF world’s super sci-fi to believable life.
It really didn’t seem possible that Hickman could top what he did on Fantastic Four. Two issues into his well deserved creative controlled spin off series FF, Hickman is already leaps and bounds beyond his Fantastic Four run. Hickman and Epting just might be crafting what will turn out being the best superhero series of 2011. It should be allowed to develop nicely since the Fantastic Four as a franchise don’t have a movie project on the horizon necessitating their need to return to form (i.e. Steve Rogers becoming Cap again, Thor getting another series, etc. etc.). We should be enjoying Hickman’s creative free reign on FF for a while.