Or – “Eight Bucks? Does This Book Come With A Gatefold Girlfriend?”
I’ve remarked about the tendency of comic book covers to be nothing but glamour shots of the team, and that tendency doubles when it’s an anniversary or milestone issue. But I’ll say this for Fantastic Four #600: They’ve at least given us a CHOICE of which goofy glamour shot we want…
Of course, they’re all REALLY unattractive, but at least one features a pretty nice shot of Susan Richards’ derriere.
FANTASTIC FOUR #600
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Penciler(s): Steve Epting/Carmine Di Giandomenico/Ming Doyle/Leinil Francis Yu/Farel Dalrymple
Inker(s): Rick Magyar/Steve Epting/Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: Paul Mounts/Andy Troy/Jordie Bellaire/Javier Tartaglia/Jose Villarrubia
Letter(s): VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor(s): Denning, Sankovitch & Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $7.99
Previously, in Fantastic Four:
The Thing! Mister Fantastic! The Invisible Woman! The Human Torch!And about nine other guys at various points in their 50 year history!
Together, they are the first family of the Marvel Universe, the legendary Fantastic Four!
AND NOW FOR A NEW DEVELOPMENT: ALL-OUT WAR!!
First of all, I know that it’s rare that Quesada puts pen to paper, what with his new duties, but isn’t a bit arrogant that every big event anniversary issue now comes with a Joe Q. cover? Especially given that his cover for this issue is one of the ugliest among uglies? (I did NOT need to see up the Invisible Woman’s nose.) The actual story portion of the issue ties together a bunch of ongoing plots from the last year of FF, as the Kree Armada invades from space, the hordes of Annihilus attack from the Negative Zone, and the last surviving alternate Reed Richards makes a chessmaster move that worries me A LOT. Jonathan Hickman has a flair for character in the middle of the kablammicus, and Namor gets a five-panel bit that steals the entire show for me. The reveal of what the hell has been happening with the Kree and the Inhumans (and Black Bolt’s newfound polyamoury) is a thunderbolt, and each Fantastic Four member gets moments of awesome. Susan holds off an entire armada (!!) with her force-fields, Bashful Benjy goes toe-to-toe with FOUR Kree Sentries, Reed acts as a human computer, and Spider-Man fights off a horde of Annihilus creatures to defend the portal the the Negative Zone. And as for the last member of the Fantastic Four…
“But, Matthew,” some of you are saying, “That’s four heroes already! How can there be another member of the Fantastic Four?” To which I respond, Welcome to Major Spoilers, because you’re obvious new here…
A PRETTY COOL TWIST…
As the Negative Zone door opens, we see Jonathan Storm, the Human Torch on the other side, with Annihilus himself captured and defeated. “Pete,” he greets Spider-Man. “What the heck are you wearing?” HA! The main story ends there, but we immediately get a pretty awesome tale that explains what happened to John after the battle with Annihilus lo those many months ago. For those who no-sold the death sequence and pointed out that we never saw a body, Hickman takes the time to show us in graphic detail the moments after that issue faded to black, as The Human Torch lured the Annihilus Wave into his clutches and released his
finishing move ultimate weapon: The Nova Flame! We blasts the majority of the army to ash, but is then dismembered by Annihilus himself. It’s pretty gruesome, and the rather ingenious method used to bring him back is even more so, as we see what Johnny lives through in order to not be dead anymore. I have to say that the strength of this sequence makes the uncertainty of the original story seem like a feint so that the writer could fake us out thinking it’s just a silly “Is he or isn’t he?” riddle, then punch us in the gut with this a few months later. Reed’s appearance to claim Johnny’s body is a revelation, a scene that I didn’t even realize that I wanted to see until Hickman delivered it, and overall I’m fairly satisfied with what takes place in the Negative Zone. Hickman rounds out the issue with a similar behind-the-scenes story that illuminates Black Bolt’s mysterious return and adoption of four new wives, what Galactus is doing about the Galactus Seed on Earth, and the absolutely chilling things that Franklin Richards has been up to while his parents have been distracted…
THE VERDICT: RESURRECTED!
FF has been a strong title, if a bit inconsistent from issue to issue (probably partly do to the artistic changes), and this story picks up where the last one left off. The promise of two issues (FF #12 and Fantastic Four #601) in the coming weeks makes me think that we’re going to enter a realm of X-Men style multiple book storylines, which doesn’t actually bother me when Hickman is handling the writing. The artist changes in this issue actually work to the story’s advantage, with the sole exception of a marked difference in apparent age for the Human Torch between the first & second tales. All in all, this book is 100 pages of story, five times the normal amount, for a little more than two times the price, which (combined with the quality of what happens inside) helps to offset the much higher price point. Fantastic Four #600 is a well-done issue, and the FF’s fourth renumbering stunt in the last few years, leading me to honor it by renumbering our star system to give it 13 out of 15 stars overall. (Of course, I don’t have that kind of room or the ability to reprogram the star generator, so we’ll just call it 4 out of 5.)
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Is a sufficiently cool return from the dead is worth the use of the long-discredited “Someone will DIE!” trope?