It has been a year since Dan Slott told us in X-Men Monday #24 there was an Iceman story on the way, but we finally get it this week in Fantastic Four #24. For readers overwhelmed by events, this issue is for you. Not only is it self-contained, but it’s a lot more low key and allows readers to think about all the different times Iceman was on the Fantastic Four. One thing Slott gets very right with this series is the wholesome nature of the team and how they solve problems with their brains, not the brawn. Well, most of the time!
This issue is a natural progression from a few story threads we’ve seen in Empyre and in X-Men/Fantastic Four. Jo-Venn and N’Kalla are now part of the family, officially mixing things up for the familial dynamic as these Kree and Skrull kids add a new wrinkle to the team. Meanwhile, Franklin is allowed to hang out in Krakoa, even if his overprotective mother would rather Franklin stay at home more often than not. These elements are a nice reminder events and story arcs matter, but they also serve as a great way to change things and make the book feel new again.
The meat of this issue involves Iceman, who is nice enough to help get Franklin home as fast as possible but is met with a hot-headed Johnny Storm who is put out by Iceman saying “fellow FF’ers” in greeting. As Slott told us in X-Men Monday:
“I like there being hidden stories and I thought it’d be funny to add one extra person who had never officially been in Fantastic Four, then you find out they were in a story Johnny would definitely not want to be in canon. He was like, no that doesn’t count. Some day Johnny Storm is replaced on the Fantastic Four by Iceman for an adventure for reasons–I know what the reasons are–and he’s never accepted that as an official Fantastic Four story.”
Not only is this hidden story a gem, but it also features a plethora of FF villains, is drawn in an old school style by Paco Medina, and is a natural way to blend X-Men and Fantastic Four into one. Slott smartly even connects Johnny’s anger to an earlier scene where he admits he needs to grow up. That lets readers reflect a bit when we see him lose it, but also see how things shake out by the end. It’s also great fun to see these characters speak as they used to; from Xavier to Sue Storm, the classic voice is well represented by Slott.
One gripe you might find is pacing, which narratively speaking can slow down quite a bit at random times in the book. A scene change to Johnny flirting with girls in a diner feels overly long, while an over-the-top Kirby-style villain gets a mere sliver of time to ham it up.
The art by Medina, with colors by Jesus Aburtov, is very strong. There’s a detailed look at the scenes in the present, with an appealing cel-shaded thickness to the lines that make the characters stand out. In the flashback, the characters look exactly as they did when Jack Kirby was drawing them, right down to the costumes and hairstyles. There’s a healthy amount of Zip-A-Tone that applies in these flashbacks to sell the old school coloring while still maintaining a healthy modern look for the colors by Aburtov. The colors in general do a great job of creating volume, especially when it comes to old-school Iceman.
This is a great feel-good one-shot that melds the X-Men with the Fantastic Four well. As Slott said, the hidden story idea works as it helps inform readers on new details while connecting us with characters in a new way. More and more, Fantastic Four is wholesome and caters to the entire family. It has action, strong familial moments, history for the older readers, and likable young characters too. It’s got the entire package.