In celebration of Marvel’s 80th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of Marvel Knights, brand-new collections all under the same cover style are being released. In the latest out this week, Marvel Knights Fantastic Four: The Complete Collection drops in comic shops. Witness the FF like you’ve never seen them before…unemployed!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The far-out Fantastic Four join the hard-hitting Marvel Knights imprint! The FF must regroup to overcome the one threat their incredible powers cannot defeat – bankruptcy! And when Reed, Sue and Ben take Franklin on a camping trip to the Pine Barrens, what they find is a strange creature that may well be the Jersey Devil! While New York freezes in the icy grip of winter, an old foe resurfaces with a grudge: Namor! But soon the team’s deepest fears and doubts are spreading from their dreams to the waking world. Their old villain Psycho-Man may hold the key, but he’s…dying?! And blind sculptress Alicia Masters has her sight restored -but at what cost? Plus, witness the ultimate Thing/Hulk battle -it’s a knock-down, drag-out slobber knocker that will rattle your molars!
Why does this matter?
This collection features Marvel Knights 4 #1 through #14 and Hulk/Thing: Hard Knocks #1 to #4. The first fourteen issues highlight a tough time for the heroes who can’t catch a break, but they still have each other. In the last four issues, Jae Lee shows off impressive art that highlights the monstrous side of Thing and Hulk.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is an interesting collection that may not be canon but still explores the characters very well. Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has crafted a story that hits at the core of the family aspect of the characters via a very realistic domestic issue many face: joblessness. The story opens with the Fantastic Four celebrating a birthday, but soon learn a bill passed in Congress has taken away all the science funding they were relying on. They soon learn the mayor of New York is also looking for retribution for all the damage done to the city. They must sell off and vacate their headquarters or pay up. That means all four heroes need to find jobs. The writing does a good job with each of the characters struggle be it Johny Storm coming to the realization that he may not be as good an actor as he thought and Sue Storm having to deal with the bad boy class when she substitutes teaches. Mr. Fantastic has the hardest time coming to grips with the truth that he can’t provide for his family. Sure, it’s a bit far fetched given how much of a genius Reed Richards is (he’s invented so much why not sell something) but there’s some great character work throughout. That includes an issue where Reed finds a job in an unlikely place by saving a man who is contemplating jumping off a building.
The art in the first fourteen issues is by Steve McNiven, Jim Muniz, and Staz Johnson. McNiven is as good on these issues as he is in his latest work like on Return of Wolverine. The characters look sharp, accurate, and dynamic and that’s saying something since this is less a superhero tale and more of a domestic story. McNiven has a way of bringing you closer to characters when they’re depressed which you see a lot of in the first seven issues. Further along, the other artists get to feature more villains like Namor which all work well.
The final four issues are by artist Bruce Jones with art by Jae Lee. It’s a story of two titans in Thing and Hulk as they talk, fight, and talk some more. Lee does a fabulous job rendering them both as hideous monsters. The way Lee draws Thing, with a rock-like skin, rather than rocks for skin, is unnerving and weird. Hulk has a strange rendering that’s like out of an old monster movie. It’s an interesting self-contained tale involving the two connecting and fighting celebrating their long-running battle with each other well.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Like I said above the main conceit of the story doesn’t quite make sense. Can’t the Fantastic Four collect a check from the Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D? Why can’t they find jobs of a bit more standing considering they’re all very bright people? You have to suspend your disbelief to make it work (which isn’t that hard considering their powers).
Is it good?
A good collection that takes a unique approach with superheroes and the first family specifically. Ever wanted to see a superhero team deal with paying the bills? If so, read this one!
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