REVIEW: FF #3

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Or – “Is You Is, Or Is You Ain’t My Torchy?”

Their tenure was only supposed to last for four minutes…  At least, that was the plan.  Weeks later, the interim FF team has been attacked by super-villains, lambasted by the media, and surprised to find that one member of their sister team HAS returned, albeit later than expected.  Is his tale of the death of the original Fantastic Four true?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

FF3CoverFF #3
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: MIchael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor(s): Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in FF:  Scott Lang didn’t want the job of leading the FF after the death of his daughter Cassie in the Children’s Crusade.  But, when Reed Richards asked him, he nonetheless stood up to take his place as the head of the Future Foundation and interim leader of a standby Fantastic Four.

“MY NAME IS JOHN STORM.  YOU KNEW ME AS THE HUMAN TORCH.”

The issue begins with the disturbing image of a maimed (and decades older) Johnny Storm explaining what happened after his team left our reality in issue #1.  Ant-Man is, understandably, skeptical of the identity of the newcomer, but has other issues to deal with; the disappearance of one of his teammates and FOUR of his students.  The Moloids (Mik, Korr, Turg and Tong) disappeared after the Mole Man’s attack last ish, while Darla Deering left the team believing she was out of her depth.  Fraction’s characterization is spot-on throughout the issue, from the wonderful interactions between She-Hulk and Medusa (Shulkie called in ex-boyfriend Wyatt Wingfoot to help confirm the identity of their wayward Storm) to Ant-Man’s attempts to get Ms. Thing back in the FF fold. Dialogue is also a big win here, with Alex Power getting a very very nice line after being told to go to bed (“It’s 4:30 and I’m nineteen and it’s New Year’s…  No.”) while Moloid Mik discovers a bit of steel in his spine in a surprising and effective moment.  The erstwhile Torch’s identity is confirmed by Wyatt, which makes his tale of a horrifying alliance between Doom, Kang and Annihilus even more frightening.

DARLA’S MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE…

As for Darla, she is utterly miserable with her return to the shallow life of a rock star, thinking over and over that she doesn’t deserve the adulation and the fame, no matter how much the public loves her.  When Ant-Man sneaks into her room to try to woo her back to the team, she’s wearing nothing but a towel, which creates the implication of romantic tension (at least to me.)  Of course, things get even more complicated by the interference of the Yancy Street Gang, who have targeted Darla as an extension of their feud with The Thing, and set off a gag bomb full of whipped cream in her hotel room.  She proves herself to be more than capable, though, impressively leaping into action to stop the gang members still clad in her towel, and out-thinking Ant-Man throughout the chase.  There’s another slight relationship tease between Darla and Scott, and the issue ends with Ms. Thing returning to the FF in time for Ant-Man announce their new goal:  End the threat of Doom once and for all!

THE BOTTOM LINE: I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S UP WITH ALL THIS, BUT I LIKE IT…

This issue is a very charming one for me, made even more so by the sight of a Mike Allred-drawn half-naked woman throughout the major action sequence, and the overall effect at the end of my reading is one of contentment.  I don’t know what’s up with the future Torch, but I have enough faith in this creative team to be willing to sit back and enjoy the ride.  Fraction makes different use of the Future Foundation kids than Hickman did, but in a very successful way anyway, and the return of Wyatt Wingfoot is a cheer-out-loud moment.  FF #3 is a book that I suspect will be an acquired taste for some readers, but I love the art and find the writing to be charming and unique among the darker-and-edgier comics on the stands today, and award the book 4 out of 5 stars overall.  If this book keeps it up, it could even eclipse the main Fantastic Four title in my good graces, a feat which would be impressive indeed…

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Reader Rating

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