Thus far, Fantastic Four has been a series with a strong start and some shaky arcs, but has pulled itself back up to being one of the best iterations of the characters in some time. That’s in part because series writer Dan Slott understands these are heroes who use their heads and never forget family comes first. In the latest issue, out this week, the story is kicking things up a notch as it sets up a new direction for the heroes post-Empyre. This is an extra-sized 35-page issue with three artists, two colorists, and a whole lot of new direction for the team.
This issue juggles a few things very well. First and foremost, it introduces a new alien species seen in the preview, sets up a new kind of problem for the first-family to deal with, and sets up a new direction for an iconic Marvel character. These elements are sprinkled throughout the issue, pacing out well across R.B. Silva, Paco Medina, and Will Robson’s art. These elements mean big changes for the team and maybe even the Marvel universe, which further adds excitement and importance to this issue. Is it a must-read? If you’re a mainline Marvel fan, the answer is yes.
The family element is another one mixed in well with the narrative. New family members Jo-Venn and N’Kalla are now the legal children of Thing and Alicia, and that’s a whole new dynamic for the characters to deal with. Not to mention, these two young aliens are sparkplugs that need reigning in part because they are foreign to Earth customs, but also because they’re at an age where shouting and reacting is more appropriate for them than to calmly assess a situation. Fantastic Four needs to feel different than most superhero books because it has the uniqueness of family. Slott clearly understands this is an important detail that gives the book its spark so often missed by other creators.
The last element that is juggled well is the visual pace and epic nature of the story. All three artists will blow you away. Full stop. The opening pages help make Earth feel small and vulnerable as a mysterious alien ship approaches. The reveal of the alien itself is a showstopper. Medina offers up one of those double-page splashes composed of many panels from previous works that are going to make you linger for some time. They’ve become so common at Marvel — Arthur Adams’ comes to mind — but this one stands out for its curvature look. Finally, Robson’s style works perfectly for the last page tie-in to the mailbag. All the many emojis Robson comes up with are cute and delightful.
It has come to the point in mainstream comics publishing that color art is at a new level of greatness. Jesus Aburtov, who colors the main story, and Marcio Menyz, who colors the follow-up stories, prove that. There’s a richness, a volume, and depth to every page that lets the art spring to life.
For a milestone issue that’s extra-sized, this book delivers. It offers an epic story, a new direction for the classic characters, and the possibilities of new sights for a decades-old property. Fantastic Four #25 offers a synthesis of art and ideas in an engrossing narrative of new possibilities.
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