Since the conclusion of 2015’s Secret Wars, the question has always been about when the Fantastic Four were to be reunited. Now, in Fantastic Four Vol. 1: Fourever that question is answered. Dan Slott, Sara Pichelli, and Nico Leon finally get Marvel’s First Family back together again.
The first issue focuses on Ben and Johnny, as writer Dan Slott shows readers their life without Reed and Sue. Artist Sara Pichelli really captures the expressiveness of both characters, especially Ben, who is in the midst of making some life-changing decisions. Johnny, still in denial about Reed and Sue’s absence, sets off when he sees a “Fantastic Four” flare in the sky. Color artist Marte Gracia uses a variety of oranges and reds that help convey Johnny’s mood. When he discovers that the source of the flare, the deep red Gracia uses helps convey Johnny’s frustration and disappointment.
After this initial chapter, readers get a short story by Slott and Simone Bianchi that shows the happenings in Latveria. The return of Doctor Doom, no longer playing hero, helps foreshadow the return of the Fantastic Four, and, in a way, a return to the norm of the Marvel Universe.
The team isn’t actually reunited in the first chapter of the volume, a point made humorously clear by a one-page Impossible Man short by Skottie Young and Jeremy Treece. However, they aren’t together again until the end of the second issue, leaving the real reunion – the emotions and the fights – until the final two chapters.
On one hand, this helps create tension, and it allows Slott a chance to acquaint readers with the larger Future Foundation cast (and the new villain, Entropy) in an organic way, and – since Reed teleports more than Ben and Johnny – it allows Reed, Sue and the kids to re-enter the Marvel landscape without there needing to be a “hey, you’re back!” moment for every character they know.
On the other hand, this swift reunion leaves some things to be desired. In particular, the last time readers saw Reed and T’Challa, the two had saved the Multiverse by squaring off against Doom in 2015’s Secret Wars. Theoretically, their reunion should be fairly significant, but the two say nothing to one another. While the series will have time to explore the Fantastic Four’s relationship at large, it’s frustrating that this opening volume sees so many of these characters in the same panel, but relegates those moments to future issues.
The final chapter, “Irreplaceable” operates as an epilogue to the previous three issues. Reed, Sue, Val, and Franklin return home with Johnny and Ben to discover that a new team, The Fantastix, is battling the Wrecking Crew. For this issue, artists Stefano Caselli and Nico Leon take over the art duties, with Erick Arciniega handling the coloring.
The fight between the Fantastix and the Wrecking Crew is quite fun, with the Fantastic Four debating whether or not they should get involved – and how the Fantastix managed to replace them in the few hours that Ben and Johnny have been gone from Earth. It’s an entertaining conclusion to the volume that completes Reed-Val subplot as well.
Is it Good?
Fantastic Four Vol. 1: Fourever is an engaging adventure for the eponymous team, but at times the story feels rushed. The return of Reed and Sue feels as though it should be a grand epic, but here those moments are fleeting, with the larger implications of their return shuttled off for future issues. However, while that sense of grandeur is missing, Slott and Pichelli nail the smaller moments between the Fantastic Four themselves. The characterizations feel organic, and thanks to the delayed reunion, readers get a sense of completion when they are brought back together for what they are – family.
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