The Fantastic Four have traversed some bold storytelling under Dan Slott, from finding Johnny Storm a soulmate to Dr. Doom’s wedding, to defeating a universe destroyer. Out this week in comic book shops, Dan Slott and R.B. Silva’s latest Fantastic Four story arc kicks off with an extra-sized 35-page issue which introduces a new problem for the team. Thanks to some new and never-before-seen aliens, a portal across the galaxy has opened in New York City. Great, now traffic will be even more backed up!
The first issue in this 160-page collection 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.
Something Slott hasn’t forgotten throughout his run on this series is how family makes this book unique. The family element is 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.
Ultimately, this story arc wraps up the big bad introduced when Dan Slott took over the series utilizing the portal while throwing a wrench into their lives. It harnesses big beat storytelling and uses it to steer the family and their choices in different directions. For that reason, the book always seems to have a purpose or focus in the right place.
Capping off the book is a King in Black tie-in that spends time focuses on Johnny and his soulmate Sky. Once again, Slott is focused on the family or the way their lives function. Their relationship seems to be a problem for Invisible Woman who doesn’t believe in it, or at least doesn’t trust it’s legit. That allows Slott and artist Ze Carlos to explore their relationship a bit and show us the two characters speak on the same level. That is interrupted by some family drama that is a touch surprising, but soon that bleeds into Knull’s attack. His attack on New York has a personal tie to Sky, which ends up making the tie-in feel more focused on itself rather than to the bigger event.
If you like big science fiction ideas in your comics, this book delivers. It offers an epic story that adds new characters and directions for the classic characters and the possibilities of new sights for a decades-old property. It’s not a perfect read, but it hits the marks you’d expect from a sci-fi epic like the Fantastic Four.
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