Oh look, Marvel rebooted yet another comic, are we surprised? With the change to Marvel Now and DC’s New 52, just about every comic from the big two has been revamped, rebranded and renumbered whether it needed to be or not.
I had honestly intended to review Matt Fraction’s take on the Fantastic Four, but as with a lot of things, time is rarely on my side. Therefore, I’ll just have to make do with this new title and the first story arc called The Fall of the Fantastic Four.
Read on, won’t you?
Fantastic Four has always been a mixed bag for me. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s not. I like it best when they focus on the family elements, four people bound together by love, fighting to protect the world. Where many comics focus on personal tragedy and death, Fantastic Four is best when it looks forward to a bright future.
This is not that book.
We start off with Sue writing a letter to Valeria, who is off visiting Doctor Doom, explaining how everything went to hell. It doesn’t start badly, Ben and Alicia get back together, Reed and Sue are happy together, but then Johnny starts to lose his powers and everything starts to go wrong. To be honest, with the number of times that someone has lost their powers, this ought to be old hat. I mean how many times has Ben stopped being the Thing and someone else had to step into his shoes? She-Hulk anyone? They ought to have a roster like the Avengers, they can call up someone else when one of them inevitably stops being so Fantastic. But when S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up and tells the FF that they’re going to go to court to explain how Reed could have allowed a bunch of extra-dimensional aliens to destroy the top of the Baxter Building and cause a ton of damage to Manhattan, I started to get uncomfortable flash-backs.
In the Ultimate Universe, they turned Reed Richards into a monster whose power-hungry megalomania produced untold sorry and tragedy. That’s why I stopped paying attention to FF stories in the Ultimate Universe. I don’t want to have to do that here. I don’t want to see anyone even suggest that Reed is evil. After all, he’s saved the world hundreds of times over, the idea that they’re going to put Mr. Fantastic in a jail cell is absurd. It’s also not original. There aren’t a lot of courtroom dramas that really work in Marvel Comics, even the most recent attempt at She-Hulk failed because it was more legal drama than superhero comic. In fact, the only really good part of the courtroom stuff is that they acknowledged that all of the stuff that happened in old-school FF comics is still part of the Marvel Universe. Considering how many times they’ve rebooted everything, you never know anymore.
And that’s really the biggest problem I had with the whole arc. Okay, I can understand that the FF might be put on trial, although to wait all these years to do it, bringing up things from decades earlier, for which any statute of limitations would certainly be up, was ridiculous. I don’t think James Robinson has any clue how courts work. I mean, he brings up Sue Storm’s history with Namor, then suggests that they should punish Reed because he hasn’t brought Namor to justice. Um, what? Since when is Reed part of law enforcement? It isn’t his job. Besides, Namor was put on trial back in John Byrne’s run back in the 90s. You can’t do it again, that’s double jeopardy. Likewise, the suggestion that Johnny Storm is somehow responsible for the destruction of Attilan by the Inhumans because he was once involved with Crystal? Seriously? Or that Ben is to blame because he fought the Hulk and maybe, just maybe, if he had stayed away, the Hulk might have left without causing damage. That’s about as realistic as expecting that if the government doesn’t shoot at Godzilla, he might tiptoe around the skyscrapers of Tokyo. Even Ben’s destruction of private property is a bit hard to buy, don’t the FF have insurance to cover that kind of thing? Jen Walters is a really, really poor lawyer here, she argues with the judge, yet when she ought to be speaking up and objecting to these absurd charges, she doesn’t say a word.
We do see the Future Foundation, which was introduced by Johnathan Hickman a couple of years back and done very well in Matt Fraction’s FF run. This is both good and bad, I like some of the characters from the Future Foundation and am honestly tired of others. With very few exceptions, the Future Foundation kids wouldn’t be remanded to the government, they would be returned to their legal parents and/or guardians. Sticking them in test tubes indeed. Besides, it isn’t like they do anything for the story, they just show up to fill a couple of pages here and there.
Even Valeria off spending time with Uncle Doom is ridiculous, where she has him using his powers for good. Sure, I’m supposed to believe that this guy who wants to take over the world is going to suddenly start overthrowing evil dictatorships because a little girl asks him to. I’ll buy that for a dollar.
You know, I wish I could say I’m enjoying this first arc but I’m really not. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to check it out but there’s nothing here that has me really excited and looking forward to the next issue. The writing by James Robinson is certainly competent, he just isn’t telling a story that draws me in. The art by Leonard Kirk is equally competent but it isn’t blowing my skirt up. Sorry, watching Earth’s Mightiest Heroes get sued in court isn’t something I can get into. Watching Child Protective Services take away the Future Foundation, that isn’t exciting either. This is a superhero comic, not Law and Order meets Jerry Springer.