Back in December a bit of history was made when Ben Grimm tied the knot with Alicia Masters. It was a big moment in part because the two have been in some form of a relationship for decades. Dan Slott utilized the marriage to bring the Fantastic Four back together again since Reed, Sue, and the kids were lost for so long. Marvel has collected the bachelor and bachelorette parties along with the wedding in one convenient collection out this week, and it holds up well.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
It’s the wedding that’s been years in the making – and you’re all invited! Finally, Ben and Alicia say “I do!” No bait. No switch. Not a dream. Not a hoax. And we swear, not a single Skrull around. This is really happening! From the book that brought you the first, best and longest running super hero marriage in comics, we give you…the wedding of the Thing and Alicia Masters! Featuring an untold tale of the courtship of Ben and Alicia. A bachelor party that only Johnny Storm could throw. A bachelorette party featuring the She-Hulk, Medusa, Crystal and more. An unexpected meeting between the Thing and his future father-in-law, the Puppet Master! And, of course, a very special ceremony brought to you in the Mighty Marvel Manner!
Why does this matter?
This collection is a nice way to honor the marriage since it includes Fantastic Four #8, which features the first time Thing and Alecia met. Collecting that, the wedding special, and Fantastic Four #5, this collection is all about showing the love.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with the Wedding Special, which has three stories each of which do well to capture different aspects of getting married and the stresses that come with it. The bachelorette opening written by Gail Simone with art by Laura Braga does a great job showcasing the weird nature of the pre-wedding party. Alicia, Invisible Woman and a few other super-powered friends (and non-super friends) go out to a strip club. The story involves a past Fantastic Four supervillain and the story ends in a delightfully romantic, even gushy, ending.
The second story involves Thing and puts him on an adventure you might not expect. He’s asking for permission to wed Alicia and it’s a curious scene, not unlike an interrogation. Dan Slott does a good job with this story, giving it a particularly interesting ending that’ll have you thinking. The art by Mark Buckingham is quite good at capturing the facial expressions of both parties. It fits in nicely with the Fantastic Four #8 printing from 1961.
The last story is by Fred Hembeck with colors by Megan Wilson, focusing on the lament of the person Thing asked permission from. This is quite a fun comic strip style story with most of the action being exhibited in the eyes of the character talking. The story goes over some of the Fantastic Four’s history with the character and reveals how complicated and convoluted that past has been. It’s a nice reminder of what Alicia went through before tying the knot with her blue-eyed Thing.
Following this is Fantastic Four #5 and there is quite a bit to like in this issue. Slott has outdone himself with great ideas mixed in with sentimental moments. Mr. Fantastic is the only character that comes off as a bit cold and distant, but he is, in fact, distant from it all. In the flashback story by the Allreds, a closer look at how Ben’s life was far different before he was transformed is detailed well. It’s easy to be a bit angry at Mr. Fantastic for changing Ben’s life, but he’s ended up with the perfect woman who sees the goodness in people. The bachelorette party includes some fun nods to classic Thing activities as well as plenty of heroes popping up. What’s a bachelor party for Thing without Spider-Man creating hijinks, right?
When it finally gets to the wedding itself, Slott writes some great vows and you can tell time and care went into making them perfect. There’s a twist or two thrown in too, and a reminder Mr. Fantastic might be distant in his work most of the time, but he still cares about his family. Mr. Fantastic even gets one of the more romantic lines in the end that ties in with an act that saves the wedding.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Once this collection dips into Fantastic Four #5 it’s incredibly well written. There are some issues with the Wedding Special, though. It’s mostly build up to the big day, which would be fine, but considering it’s marketed as a “wedding special” it seems off the mark to not feature any of the actual wedding. Though the three stories are perfectly fine and dandy, I wasn’t blown away by them. I was hoping for bigger and more explosive stories a special might entertain. Instead, they’re low key and just interesting enough.
Is it good?
Overall this is one of the best weddings in comics history thanks to great plotting and pacing that’s as sharp as a tack. The mix of artists is inspired and every page looks as pretty as the last. Buy this to celebrate along with the first family and to celebrate how great comics can be.
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