Or – “A Pending Death In The Family…”

A few years ago, I picked up a  book called Common Grounds* (about a superhuman coffee shop where the heroes and villains all commune together, since donuts are a universal constant) and was wowed by the interesting takes on super-powers therein, and vowed to follow the writer as he moved on to inevitable fame.  Less than a decade down the road, Jonathan Hickman is handling Marvel’s flagship title, following up a run by super-megastar Mark Millar, proving my prognosticating skills.  Just you wait, in five years, Yildiray Cinar will be on Superman, and everybody will be proclaiming him an overnight sensation…

*It has been brought to my attention that I’m an idiot, and Common Grounds was Troy Hickman, and Jonathan started out writing the Nightly News for Image.  Either way, awesome talent.  And now, we’re cha-chaing!

Fantastic Four #585
“Three – Part 3”
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Steve Epting
Colors by Paul Mounts
Letters by Rus Wooten
Published by Marvel Comics

Previously, on Fantastic Four:  Reed Richards miscalculation regarding cosmic radiation has led to years of superheroey goodness, and served as the foundation of the Marvel Universe.  With his right-hand man, The Thing (second most popular superhero in the Marvel Universe, at least continuity wise), his immensely powerful wife, The Invisible Woman and her brother the Human Torch, Reed has been at the forefront of super-stuff for decades.  In recent months, he has created the Future Foundation, a think-tank of great minds (including his own daughter Valeria and a rewired Dragon Man) to tackle the biggest problems facing humanity, as well as finding lost civilizations below the oceans.  Prince Namor of Atlantis and Susan Richards have embarked on a peacekeeping mission to the long-lost kings of old Atlantis, while the Thing has been given a formula that makes him human for a week at a time, once a year.  With half the team out of commission, it’s a terrible time for something big to happen.  Enter:  GALACTUS.

The first pages of the issue are pretty awesome, as we see a street-level view of Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm and Ben “inactive Thing” Grimm racing towards the Baxter Building in Johnny’s car, only to pan up and see Galactus hovering in the sky.  “You better not scratch my car,” quips Johnny as he takes to the air to find out what the oldest being in the universe has to say.  Steve Epting just KILLS the whole sequence, using a unique angle to make Galactus seem even more alien and terrifying than before.  As for why the Big G has come to Earth, he speaks to Mr. Fantastic (with RESPECT, no less), revealing that his minion The Silver Surfer has discovered a body buried within the Earth that seems to be Galactus’ own, and the world devourer wants to know just what the Sam Hill is going on here.  Reed gives a perfectly rational explanation (which I think is tied to the Fantastic Force arc of the series a couple years ago), and Galactus informs him that they are going to the planet where the survivors of the alternate world have colonized.  “You will attend me, Reed Richards, until this… and OTHER MATTERS are resolved,” says the Big G ominously.

While Reed heads into space, Susan and Namor are in the midst of a giant parlay, with the Lord of Atlantis seemingly bowing to her will in the negotiations, much to the consternation of his advisor, Andromeda.  Susan soothes him with the expectation that she wants the best for everyone, something Namor doesn’t believe really exists.  In space, Galactus reveals that he left Earth because HE WAS AFRAID (I’m not telling of what, mind you, but it’s a big ‘n) while Ben ponders having children on Earth, and Annihilus plans to invade from the Negative Zone.  At the Peace Talks, the old Kings of Atlantis meet the new King, and Namor pulls a Randy Orton on the whole proceedings, attacking those he claims to be seeking peace with, much to the chagrin of the FF.  Long story short?  One member in space at the mercy of Galactus, one under the sea in what is probably seconds from becoming a battlefield, one powerless at home, and Johnny Storm eatin’ a sandwich and worrying about the finish on his racecar.  Even shorter:  vintage FF.

When I think about the Fantastic Four, I think about a book that is the Marvel equivalent of Wonder Woman:  More important for it’s place in history than for the actual stories, and often the stories show it.  Either we have long-form epics that never quite recapture the Stan & Jack salad days of the title, or we get HUGE concepts that never quite gel as with the recent Millar run.  It’s really easy to describe what makes the Fantastic Four great (a sense of wonder, big concepts, Ben punching, Reed talking ten-dollar words) but really hard to put in practice, but Hickman has a solid grounding for his Fantastic Four.  Even the mighty Galactus talking to Reed as (almost) an equal seems perfectly in keeping with this title, and the warning from the artist formerly known as Galen literally gave me goosebumps, while Namor’s wild card actions add some surprise to the book.  All in all, I’m very impressed with this issue, and its clear that the identity of the soon-to-die member will probably be a surprise up to the last second.  This is a damn good story, and an excellent take on the most difficult book in Marvel’s arsenal, leading Fantastic Four 585 to net a VERY impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  Hickman’s take on the FF is amazing, and Epting’s art seals the deal.

Rating: ★★★★½

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Which FF’er do YOU think is about to take the big dirt-nap?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I have been loving this incarnation of the Fantastic Four, Hickman’s writting has me hooked until he leaves the FF, and it has had some of the best art in years.

    By the way Matthew, “Common Grounds” was written by Troy Hickman, Jonathan Hickman’s first comic book was Image’s “Nightly News”.

    • By the way Matthew, “Common Grounds” was written by Troy Hickman, Jonathan Hickman’s first comic book was Image’s “Nightly News”.

      Awww, crud. How in the world did that happen? :)

      This is what I get for thinking…

  2. Ah, the retro cover with Sue and her old beau, Namor. That and the plot take me back to the FF of my youth…you know, when they actually MATTERED in the Marvel U. Let’s face it, most of the plot devices, major villains, etc. in Marvel originated in the FF. Unstable molecules, the Negative Zone, the return of the Sub Mariner, Dr. Doom, Galactus, etc. Even though this series (like damn near every other series in comics right now) is supposedly leading up to someone biting the dust (I’m betting on a plot swerve here) it’s enjoyable for what it is now. And even seeing Namor the X-man living up to his reputation as the biggest a&&hole in the Marvel U next to Victor Von Doom is fun.

    • Glad I’m not the only one who thinks the FF need a bit more recognition for the contributions to the Marvel U that have come from the book and miss the “old days”.

      But then again, I’m also a little sick of the X-Men oversaturation of the past 15-20 years. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the mutants, just in smaller doses.

  3. I think Ben is gonna take the dirtnap. We’ve already seen a Sue die, in Millar’s issues. And Mr Fantastic died back in the nineties.

    It would be kind of poetic and sad for Ben to die while he was still in human form.

    • Space Cadet Juan on

      Ben died during the Waid/Ringo run.

      And shouldn’t we all be putting “die” in quotation marks? This is Marvel comics, after all.

      Has Johnny “died” yet? I’m trying to recall. It might be his turn!

    • Even better, if he gets hit by a truck while walking across the street. It would be like Omar from The Wire. – “Who’s this guy?” “I dunno, keeps asking for his aunt Petunia.”

  4. Sorry, Matthew, still working on “overnight sensation,” but I guess I’ve done OK, too.

    Of course, you could always assuage yourself by mentioning my mini-series, Twilight Guardian: Heroes and Villains, coming from Top Cow in January. I’m just sayin’… ;)

    • Of course, you could always assuage yourself by mentioning my mini-series, Twilight Guardian: Heroes and Villains, coming from Top Cow in January. I’m just sayin’… ;)

      Top Cow, you say? Twilight Guardian, you say? Hmm… :) Definitely have to check that one out.

      It’s a good thing that I’m mostly immune to embarassment at my stupid statements, but next time I’ll try not to do my writing in the middle of the night…

  5. Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Which FF’er do YOU think is about to take the big dirt-nap?

    Let’s see. Everyone else pointed out that most of the members have died, with Johnny being the sole exception. They probably won’t kill off Reed, since his previous “deaths” have been attached to stories no one really liked; Sue might be safe, since she’s the Mom of the Marvel Universe, but that could be a cheap-drama reason to target her; Ben is probably safe, since even people who don’t like the FF like him mainly due to his Jack Kirby connections.

    So yeah, my money’s on Johnny being snuffed out, at least temporarily.

  6. Hickman’s first story arc with the Council of Reeds and the Celestials was brilliant and gave us a return to the Stan Lee version of Reed Richards – as the brainiest man in the world, but still a man who has emotions, cares about people and is a decisive and heroic leader. As opposed to the Reed Richards that’s machiavellian, almost autistic and an ivory tower egghead. I love that bit in the first FF Annual where he’s p***ed with Namor and is brawling with him and he bends his body into a bow and fires Namor like an arrow! That’s the Reed Richards that I like.

  7. It’s not a question of who’s going to die. It’s really a question of “Who’s going to get lost in time, or only appear to be dead or get retconed in a year or so. Hey, Spider-man’s suppose to die soon. Maybe he’ll join the team at the last minute and get buried alive by Kraven again.

  8. I haven’t read this book in a couple years, but I think Ben’s “quickie cure” potion turns out to be a bit more permanent than he would’ve liked, so the Thing “dies”, but Ben Grimm lives on…until it wears off in about six months.

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