REVIEW: FF #1

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Or – “A Whole New Start…”

I admit to being a little bit conflicted about this new FF #1.  On the one hand, I’m totally psyched about the teaming of Fraction & Allred, about the characters at play here, and about a new wrinkle for the Future Foundation.  On the other, I’m not sure that I think FF has run its course sufficiently to need a reboot or a relaunch…  Either way, your Major Spoilers review awaits!

FF#1
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Mike Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letter: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor(s): Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in FF:  The Fantastic Four are about to embark on a whole new adventure (albeit one that Reed Richards has a hidden ulterior motive for) and they don’t want to leave the world unprotected and the kids of the Future Foundation without teachers.  As with everything, though, Mister Fantastic has a plan…

THE NEW ORDER ARISETH…

Fraction has only one issue of Fantastic Four under his belt, but I’m highly excited about his take on Marvel’s flagship characters.  This issue starts in the middle of the events set in motion by the recent Fantastic Four #1, interweaving first-person interviews of the kids of the Future Foundation with the members of the Four meeting with their potential replacements.  (As an aside, one of the most frustrating parts of having both a Fantastic Four and an FF title concurrently is that you can’t use “FF” as shorthand for Fantastic Four without really convoluting the issue of who is whom.  Bygones…)  Reed Richards reaches out to Scott Lang, the recently resurrected Ant-Man II, to take his spot as ramrod, but things aren’t all wine and roses with Scott.  For those who didn’t read Avengers: Children’s Crusade, his return to the land of the living was quickly followed by the death of his daughter Cassie Lang (aka Stature of the Young Avengers) a loss from which Scott hasn’t quite recovered.  Reed’s interactions with Scott are truly fascinating, as Mister Fantastic openly admits that he doesn’t know how to talk about death, but still wants to make certain that Scott is open to the challenges that his job entails.

I DO LOVE ME SOME ALLRED…

The running gag in the issue is that Reed’s proposed trip will be one year from the perspective of the travelers, but only take 4 minutes of real time (theoretically, anyway.)  The creators make much of this recruitment, with The Thing approaching former member She-Hulk, the Invisible Woman approaching Medusa, big sister of the original Fantastic Four stand-in, and Johnny Storm absent-mindedly forgetting all about his part and just asking his girlfriend to stand in for him.  (The characters interactions, by the way, are priceless, from She-Hulk and Thing working out to Medusa and Sue sharing a glass of wine and a discussion of family and motherhood.)  By the end of the issue, we’ve heard from all the kids and assembled our new four-minute-superteam (although, as Ben Grimm points out, things seldom go as planned for Marvel’s First Family.  The art in this issue is awesome as well, with Mike Allred channeling a little bit of Kirby into his portrayals, delivering a burlier She-Hulk, a regal Medusa and a return by Ant-Man to a version of Henry Pym’s Silver Age uniform.  The facial expressions are particularly beautiful, especially the look on She-Hulk’s face when she agrees to stand-in for the Thing, and I can’t find a single page of the issue that doesn’t have SOME wonderful bit of business going on in it.  (Franklin making faces to distract Val while she talks is super-cute…)

THE BOTTOM LINE: GIVE IT A CHANCE.

I know that Mike Allred’s art is an acquired taste, but it perfectly fits the faux-retro vibe of this book, harkening back to (and even containing a shout-out to) the works of Lee & Kirby.  Scott Lang proves himself to be smart and insightful, while each of the students explains their whole deal in a way that perfectly fits their character and leaves me relieved that the creative team aren’t going to jettison all of the brilliant stuff that the previous team created that hasn’t run its course yet.  FF #1 is a quiet gem of a comic, with tons of character and a clear statement of purpose in its pages, falling down only in that it is a first issue and doesn’t really get to do anything with the assembled players yet, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  My fervent hope is that this book is the sleeper hit of Marvel Now and forces the company to slow down the “Next Big Thing” mentality in favor of letting their classic roster of characters simmer for a bit…

Rating: ★★★★½

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