The core membership of the Fantastic Four (along with Reed & Sue’s children, Franklin and Valeria) have gone on sabbatical, searching the breadth of time, space and dimension in order to find a cure for their rapidly devolving cosmic-ray-induced powers. Will they find a cure before their bodies betray them? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
A nice sense of suspense.
A cute resolution.
Bagley & Rubinstein not quite gelling.
Seems like we’re going in circles.
FANTASTIC FOUR #12
Writer: Matt Fraction w/ Christopher Sebela
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Fantastic Four: Reed Richards was the first to discover that his powers were betraying him, and kept the information from his family, instead choosing to take off on an “educational tour” of the universe with his family and best friend. Now, all the Fab Four are feeling the effects of the degenerative disease, with Sue losing cohesiveness, Ben’s rocky hide molting, and Johnny… Well, Johnny seems to be pretty much normal, save for the fact that his older self from a future time has joined them as well. Now that temporal terrorists have separated them across eons, can the Fantastic Four (plus two) get it together?
TIME WON’T LET ME…
Fraction’s relaunch of Fantastic Four and it’s companion title, FF, excited me from the get-go, but as the books have gone on, I have found myself much more interested in Ant-Man’s ragtag team back home than I am in the adventures of Reed and Sue across the 8th Dimension. This issue begins with a desperate search, as Sue, Ben and Franklin search out the rest of the team, having stolen the time-travel technology from the very terror group that initially separated them. The first thing I notice about this issue is that Bagley’s art feels very sketchy, with faces especially suffering in comparison to previous issues. This is actually something that I’ve noticed before with Mark, and I don’t know if I can entirely attribute it to the inker, but it feels like they’re just not gelling this month. Finding their other half in the distant past, the team is stranded when their opponents take off with the Fantastic Four’s own ship, leaving them to the mercy of the carnivorous reptile population of planet Celeritas in the distant past. As their powers fail again, it seems that the Fantastic Four is destined to be dinosaur chow…
LEANING A BIT HARD ON THE FRANKLIN CRUTCH.
Luckily, there’s some time-travel chicanery of the deus ex machina variety to pull their collective fat out of the fire, as the GRANDCHILDREN of the very people who stranded them… Oy. Brain… hurts. As the issue comes to a close, Johnny tries to grill his older self about the trials to come (and, infuriatingly for Johnny and the readers, gets nothing for his efforts), while Reed and Sue put their children to bed, and Ben… Ben gets the shock of his life. No, I’m not spoilering it, but the last page is a particularly unnerving one for long-term fans of The Thing, especially for one who thought he’d seen most everything. The problem I have with the issue, though, is less in concept (which is pretty cool) than in execution, as the journey to try to figure out what’s going on with their powers has gone on for 12 issues now without any real headway being made, and it feels like we don’t even really know what the problem IS yet. In addition, some of the adventures, while entertaining, have seemed like they have a pretty tenuous connection to the actual premise of “figuring out a cure.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: JUST MOSTLY OKAY THIS TIME…
All in all, this issue has some interesting character moments, but the resolution feels both abrupt and inexplicable, and our heroes’ role in the issue feels like nothing but pawns in a time-travel game of chance. The use of Franklin’s powers to rig up a time machine feels awkward, and as much as I liked the Thing-related developments this time ’round, the issue just doesn’t have the focus to generate the thrilling reading experience that they’re shooting for. Fantastic Four #12 ends up feeling visually off, and has some plotting missteps that bother me enough that it ends up as an average reading experience, earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. Here’s hoping that Fraction’s imminent exit doesn’t mean that we won’t get the whiz-bang final act that this story needs…