Or – “What’s The Deal With Medusa?”
In the first five issues of this book, the makeshift Fantastic Four team has taken over the Future Foundation, crossed swords with the Mole Man, discovered the original team to be dead (or, at least, so says a maimed and aged Johnny Storm) and decided to take on Doctor Doom. Also, one of their members is acting shady as heck, and the cover this month has foreboding written all over it. What’s next? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Previously, on FF: With the core team on a space mission in the other Fantastic Four book, Ant-Man and his squad have had a shaky time growing into the role of World’s Greatest Super-Team. When an elderly Human Torch traveled back through the space-warp, insisting that the team kill Doctor Doom, most of the Future Foundation was confused, but Ant-Man (who blames Doom for the death of his daughter) agreed, leading Alex Power to leave the Future Foundation in anger…
A NEW STUDENT?
With Alex having left the Foundation, this issue opens with a new student joining, one who chills my very blood: Ahura, son of Medusa and Black Bolt, whose mental instability resembles his Uncle Max more than mommy or daddy. (If you’re wondering if you missed an issue, he first appeared in one of the 80s Marvel Graphic Novels, but hasn’t made much in the way of appearances since. I think he was maybe in War Of Kings.) Of course, being emotionally unstable and ridiculously powerful just means the lad will fit right in at FF HQ, as we quickly find when he brings Lockjaw to meet his classmates. Meanwhile, the elderly and addled “Human Torch” has found his way to the Bowery, reliving an earlier moment in his life when he found Namor The Sub-Mariner in a flophouse. (If memory serves, that’s in Fantastic Four Volume 1 #4, and uses the dialogue from those scenes, as well.) Since the building is now a trendy boutique (and also, he’s on fire) things quickly get uncomfortable, causing our heroes to have to act again. And, as always, it’s a disaster. The real enjoyment is in the moments in-between, in the hidden nuances of a conversation between Medusa and little sister Crystal, or in Darla’s search for appropriate headgear to accompany her Miss Thing armor.
STILL BUILDING TOWARDS SOMETHING…
Also, Willie Lumpkin is seen teaching the kids about the Birds and the Bees, which seems worrisome. Aaaaanyway, fighty-fighty ensues, we meet Wu and Vil’s pater familias. In a brilliant bit, he lists off his pedigree and names, with the boys responding “Pop-Pop!” “There are those who know me as Pop-Pop, yes,” replies the elder king of ancient Atlantis to my utter delight. This book is full of that sort of clever moments, with Alex Power in Latveria, and a shocking last page reveal about WHY Medusa is interested in the education of Bentley 23, one that makes me want to read the next issue immediately. Allred and Fraction have created something rare with this series, a book that treads on entirely new territory right in the middle of a maze of the longest-running and most-traveled continuity in the Marvel Universe. Even though its different than Hickman’s wonderfully inventive run, I find it equally fascinating and equally compelling.
THE BOTTOM LINE: GOOD STUFF.
Every time I see a review of or remark about this book, those who enjoy it seem to have to spend a lot of time defending the artistic merits of Mike Allred’s quirky style. There’s no sense in that, frankly. If you don’t like Allred’s art, nothing I can say will make it beautiful for you. But, I enjoy it, and I truly believe that Fraction’s story has created something so unique and interesting that it’s worth picking up even if you hate the art. Moreover, it’s a bit telling that, even as I’m falling behind on my comics reading, even as I didn’t yet get a chance to read the last issue of Fantastic Four, I’ve grabbed every issue of this title on the day of release so that I could enjoy it immediately. FF #5 continues the streak of utterly baffling but incredibly entertaining issues, playing with each character, the setting and the history of comics themselves, earning a very solid 4 out of 5 stars overall. Check this one out, if only to watch the Marvel Universe’s weirdest heroes work their magic…
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!