A shocking reveal has changed the Fantastic Four, perhaps forever. Can they live with the truth? Your Major Spoilers review of Fantastic Four #18 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Paco Medina/Francesco Manna/Carlos Magno
Colorist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 22, 2020
Previously in Fantastic Four: Punches will be thrown. Lives will be changed. And Reed Richards is going to drop some scary science on the planet called Spyre. You know those sci-fi rules about “prime directives”? The Fantastic Four aren’t playing by those rules… Not this time.
A TERRIBLE SECRET REVEALED
After years of wondering what might have been, Mister Fantastic has successfully rebuilt the rocket that failed under a bombardment of cosmic rays and completed their mission, arriving on the distant planet Spyre. There they met The Overseer, who has used cosmic rays to create his own superhuman defense force, The Unparalleled, but in so doing has created a large number of monstrous mutations, all of whom are forced to live in their own filthy section of the city, banished from reality. Reed has also discovered that it was Overseer himself who caused the failure of his shields, leading to the creation of the Fantastic Four, which sets The Thing out in a rage with the seeming intent to kill. Meanwhile, the Human Torch (who accidentally got sorta/kinda married to a local) tries to convince The Unparalleled that their entire way of life is corrupt and built on lies, which always goes well. The Overseer fights back, leading to the destruction of his tower and The Great Eye which runs their society, and even though The Unparalleled and the monsters teamed up with the FF to save lives, one thing is clear: The Fantastic Four actually HAVE caused the downfall of the Spyre’s society, as the prophecy foretold.
SO WHAT NOW?
The first puzzling thing about this issue comes in the art teams, with three different artists providing three very different takes (especially on the Thing) during the course of the same issue, which is quite distracting. Medina, Manna and Magno all do good work and provide clear storytelling, but I’m not really clear why this particular issue ends up being such a patchwork. Even so, the story is strong enough and the subplots (like Citadel’s love for Sky, who has been chosen as another’s soul-mate by The Great Eye) are all interesting, and it even makes sense that Ben’s ally Krumson turns on him by the end of the issue. This is “Everything You Know Is Wrong” storytelling, which can be difficult to pull off, but Slott’s script makes it clear that it’s less a matter of the Fantastic Four’s origins being rewritten as it is additional information that it makes sense that no one has. The characters’ responses to this new situation are also perfectly understandable and logical, playing to the character’s strengths (Ben’s determination, Johnny’s hot-headed stubborn streak, Sue’s ability to see to the heart of the matter and Reed’s intellect-without-always-considering-the-human-factor) in ways that don’t feel cliched.
BOTTOM LINE: A GOOD READ
In short, Fantastic Four #18 uses the team’s history, the character’s personalities and a big ol’ twist from last month to create unpredictable adventure and drama, and even with multiple art teams in play, it hangs together pretty well, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. This whole arc has been surprising in the best ways and plays with the status quo without destroying the suspension of disbelief, and I hope that next month’s conclusion is as satisfying.
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FANTASTIC FOUR #18
It's nice to see the Fantastic Four out of their element, even with several art styles in the same issue, and the ending shakes everything up again, making for a great cliffhanger.