IT'S REVIEWIN' TIME!
Let me get this out right up front. I'm not a huge fan of superheroes. That's not to say I don't like superheroes at all. . .it's just that I prefer the more "street level" or realistic (as realistic as comics can be anyway) heroes. About the only "Traditional" superheroes I follow on a regular basis are Batman and Captain America. . .both relatively low power when it comes to comics. I like heroes like Daredevil, Zorro, The Rocketeer, Green Hornet, The Spirit, and so on and so forth. The point is that except for this mini and a giant-size Marvel from the 70's (The Fabulous Fantastic Four), and a random issue here and there, I don't read or collect Fantastic Four, and I don't even really like them. I really can't even recall how I ended up with this mini in the first place, or recall ever reading it before.
That said. . .
I REALLY enjoyed this first issue! I was very surprised to find myself enjoying it so much. For starters, the art is fantastic. . .the cover in particular, with Johnny Storm giving Reed Richards the bunny ears in a group photo. Other standout art moments are of Reed Richards and Ben Grimm shortly after their definitely NOT approved test flight and cosmic irradiation when they were still under government quarantine. Very nicely done. Really gave an image of just how unusual these people appeared to others. And the writing was stellar as well. . .I could feel Ben Grimm's heartbreak when his girlfriend rejected him and ran away. For a comic to make me feel something like that is truly unusual. Very well done on this first issue!
But can the creative team keep it up? It's only 6 issues. How can something go off the rails in 6 lousy issues? My fingers are crossed. . .
Okay. . .so after a stellar introduction, it starts getting a bit "super-heroey" as the FF fight together as a team for the first time against an escapee from the same detention facility where they are being held. They fail pretty hard because they still aren't used to their powers or how to work together. We start to see tension straining at them as Reed wants them to be one big happy family and the others aren't so sure. To make matters worse, Reed has another detainee in his head. . .a psionic psychotic who used their battle as a distraction to escape.
Plus the "team" goes on their first mission (mostly unseen, except for their report afterwards) for the government to Monster Island to fight The Mole Man. Must be from their actual origin. Gotta love the 60's!
The art is still great, with the exception of Sue Storm. There are places where her face just looks. . .weird.
I can't believe this mini is dipping on the SECOND issue. What started as an excellent introduction and origin story is turning into a punch-em-up.
This issue was half and half for me. . .I liked that they got back to the more personal side of people who just had their whole lives changed and how they deal with it. I didn't like the punchfest battle with a giant lizard in the streets of New York. Ben Grimm goes back to one of his old hangouts and finds out there's no way he can go back to his old friends and ways. Johnny Storm does the same thing and finds himself being treated like a hometown hero. I loved the opposition of the two stories! Reed Richards and Sue Storm also find themselves at odds because Reed wants to concentrate on the new team and Sue wants to try to continue with their plans to get married. Not as good as the other stories, but I still liked it.
Overall, this issue was superior to the second one, but not as good as the first. The art is still superior, once again the exception being Sue Storm's face. It seems the artist can't get a handle on her for some reason. . .
I really liked this issue for its lack of punching and having some great story content. Reed Richards sees both his team and his life falling apart. Ben Grimm refuses to accept what he's become. Johnny Storm lets his newfound fame go to his head. Sue Storm is totally pissed that Reed cares more about the idea of being a superhero than about her. There's a real feeling of tension in this issue. And then there's the psychotic guy who keeps invading Reed's thoughts who finally decides that he's done trying to get Reed to see things his way and declares that he is now their enemy.
Not a bad issue at all. You really get the feeling of a team/family on the edge of breaking up. Unfortunately, the artist still can't draw Sue Storm consistently. On page 5 there's 3 views of her face and none of them look like the same woman, except for the blonde hair. The one at the bottom is really bad. But oddly enough, everything else looks great. . .
Okay, NOW we go off the rails.
In the run-up to the final issue, there's some decent story moments. . .Johnny Storm letting fame go to his head and almost killing some thieves in his overconfidence, Sue Storm having lonely woman rage over her fiancee not paying attention to her. Reed giving up on the team and going to confront their new enemy on his own. The rest of them realizing they suck on their own and going after Reed to help him.
But aside from those story moments, the rest is a confusing mess as Reed joins in psychic battle inside a cosmic radiation-infused crystal that a rapidly-mutating psycho that's been in Reed's head wants to blow up and radiate thousands of people. He also turns the gaurds at the base where the crystal is at into superhuman mutated monstrosities to fight the other three members of the FF in the real world as they fly into battle in what must be the lamest superhero vehicle in comic book history. Okay. . .did you get all that? I guess the origin is done and it's time to punch things.
The final issue is a hot mess (can I say that if I'm white? *shrugs*)
It's split between the mental battle of Richards vs. Stahl in the radioactive crystal, where Reed proves it's not his stretchy limbs that make him awesome, but his big brain. . .and in the real world where the others take on extremely punchable monsters and prove that teamwork is the way to go! After the battle is won, Reed uses his big brain to realize his fiancee is unhappy and gives her a shiny ring to distract from her misery. And THAT's why they call him Mister Fantastic!
At the end of the story, it's all smiles as they fly in to battle yet ANOTHER giant monster in New York in their awesome new official uniforms and the world's worst-looking flying machine. Seriously. . .even Orion in his stupid Astro-Harness is laughing.
A weak ending, but I have to say that overall I liked most of this series. I wasn't a fan of the Fantastic Four coming in, and this didn't change my mind, but it had some really good story moments before they decided it HAD to end with a big battle. All in all, I'd suggest this book to someone if they wanted to know about the Fantastic Four.
And there it is. . .Fantastic Four: First Family. The tale of 4 people coming together as a team and ignoring the laughter of a college kid on a Segway as they fly overhead in the lamest vehicle in New York City.
Coming Next. . .more superhero action (sort of) as we get to see the former Batgirl take a shower in Oracle: The Cure! Be there or be square!
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Issue # 1