Fantastic Four has shown to be one of the most important tie-in comics to Empyre, and issue #23 is very much proof of that. Out this week, Fantastic Four #23 is not only a must-read if you want to totally enjoy Empyre #6, but it’s also a great wrap-up to the story arc it started in Empyre #0: Fantastic Four. Dan Slott and Paco Medina close out this series with action, close calls, and a historic moment for Marvel Comics.
Dan Slott is always good at mixing in big ideas with fun pop culture references or clever dialogue for each of the characters. You get plenty of that in this issue, like a crack on how terrible the internet is, mixed in with some impressive scenes with the kids Val and Franklin were tasked with protecting. Jo-Venn (a Kree) and N’Kalla (a Skrull) were introduced as very important characters for this event, and it’s nice to see they are very much front and center in the event. I can’t say why, but they are captured and used in a way to set up a killing blow to the Kree and Skrull army from the Cotati. How it connects to the history of these aliens is not only interesting, but inspiring.
The art is great as well. Artist Paco Madina and colorist Jesus Aburtov craft a sharp-looking book. There’s a cel-shaded thickness to Madina’s lines that bring the characters and their expressions forward. The colors help remind us the heroes tend to be the brightest characters in the bunch, and there’s always attention to environments and details that make you linger. Colors work well with effects too, which are highly important in the last scene.
This book continues to be fun thanks to Spider-Man and Wolverine punching up the scenes and bringing a level of attitude and humor that lightens the mood. They’re a quirky duo and the creative team maximizes their personalities so much you might want a series of their own.
On the other hand, Sky and Alicia have one of the more pointless scenes, serving to seed a possible secret for a later story and not much more. Sky is in the book simply to remind us she’s around, it seems, and their place in the book doesn’t add much.
The narrative ties to past stories well, increasing the weight of the story. Connecting to Spider-Man’s past, the Kree and the Skrull, and the Fantastic Four makes the story matter a little more. Fans who try to hold onto all the history and continuity will appreciate how this connects to other stories. It connects well to the Empyre event as well, reminding us time is of the essence.
This is a Fantastic Four book, of course, and Slott doesn’t forget it’s brains, not brawn, that makes this team work. Spidey and Logan do plenty of fighting, but Franklin and Val allow the book to be smart when it needs to be. Without them, the entire war would have been lost and all it took was quick thinking and maybe a little genius-level hypothesizing.
Fantastic Four #23 is a great finale to the Empyre story arc and a reminder of how this team does their best work when they think their way through a problem. On the other side of the coin, Wolverine and Spider-Man punch up the action, providing the best of both worlds in this issue. This is one of the strongest examples of how a tie-in can matter as much as the event itself.