Comics / Comic Reviews / Marvel Comics

Fantastic Four #587

By Zak Edwards
January 29, 2011 - 16:33

Yes, it has finally come, another dissolution of the Fantastic Four, the first family of Marvel, and somehow I knew it was going to be the one they picked.  Now, to be clear:

Spoilers Ahead!

Okay, now that the spoilers warning is over with, let’s hop to it.  Well, I’ll put the picture between here and the spoiler in order to give some more room.

If this picture isn't foreboding, how about the fact the book comes in a cheap, sealed black plastic bag!

There.  So Johnny Storm is now dead, or fighting some monsters who are going to make him so.  He reenacted a scene from Armageddon (the Bruce Willis movie) and threw Ben Grimm back into safety, activating the portal that will stop a lot of bugs little Franklin Richards has proven he can destroy somewhat.  I’m not sure what it was that made me dislike this issue: my own cynicism, the contrivance of the entire endeavour, the overly complicated plot which brought them here, or the knowing from the second I opened the issue it wasn’t going to be the misogynist (Reed) or Sue, but Johnny or Ben so someone could have a dramatic staring contest with a corpse or heroic sacrifice; basically so the plot wouldn’t go like this: the others get back from their missions and go “Hey, where’s _____?” and no dramatic anything follows while they look for the character, only to find some change and a missing remote under the couch cushion before cluing in that one of them died.  Now, I could turn this review into a prediction for the inevitable “Welcome Back from your Journey of Not-Dying 2012,” but I’d rather not because this seems like a good time to look at Hickman’s run as a whole to look at this single issue.

And inside the bag is this (or maybe the variant).
Fantastic Four has been, for me, about the crazy science fiction concepts.  The making of an entire other Earth for the future victims of global warming using Galactus as a fuel source for their transport, the shot of two Reed Richards performing surgery on a star, these sorts of unashamed crazy sci-fi is why I love this book.  Jonathan Hickman’s run has been all these things in so many ways, and he has even added some really cool extra stuff with Reed and Sue’s children, both in their future and past selves.  I started reading Fantastic Four because it was being done by the same team as The Ultimates, Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, and I could see the series was not at its best.  Hickman made the series seem like the best it could be to a new reader and I was continually excited to read it.  While Millar’s run has been critically lampooned, the run did argue against the feasibility of the First Family as a unit run by successful parents.  Hickman takes this fact for granted, solving it through a realization of Reed to be a better father, which meant he put together a group of children as the new scientific team.  Hickman has handled the relationships in this group better when not dealing with Reed or Sue, but their children and the crazy uncles Ben and Johnny, so the emotional impact of the death of the latter is fairly well done precisely because Sue and Reed aren’t their to reveal their lack of depth of character (probably Reed more than Sue).  Killing Johnny makes sense, really, but I feel Hickman has killed one of his assets, but maybe gained a chance to go even crazier in the sci-fi.  We’ll see.

As for the issue itself, it plays on many of the broader themes Hickman has been working on surprisingly well.  The story is divided into three separate ones, and each develops autonomously and carries the characters further one their own separate journeys, and adds tension to the inevitable conclusion (if not undercut like I discussed above).  Sue’s continuing independence is undercut by Namor’s horniness for a little frustration, and the contrivance of the random bureaucratic loophole was eye-rolling, but this story worked well.  Reed’s is forgettable (I actually had to reread it to remember what happened almost entirely), but Johnny and Ben’s makes no sense whatsoever.  There are bugs, other dimensions, and something about needing someone to stay behind, but none of this adds up very well on more than a single reading.  It is pure contrivance and worries me for Hickman’s larger plan, remembering Hickman apparently went to Marvel with entire books for his proposals, reaching as far as sixty issues of planning in extreme detail.  At the end of it, the issue wasn’t very strong and exposes more of the holes in Hickman’s fairly amazing run.  Overall, the issue is okay in a run which has done a good job of covering up its weaknesses.  I’m sticking around, but I’m not convinced this is the right move.

6.5/10    Exposes more than intended and telegraphs it’s narrative ‘punches’ too much.

Last Updated: May 19, 2020 - 12:25

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