The Fantastic Four get up to a lot of hijinks in the eight-volume out this week, but should you really be surprised when Dr. Doom is getting married? This latest Fantastic Four collection spans just four issues and yet it is 192 pages long. How can this be?! For starters, it houses Fantastic Four #35 which is the extra-sized 60th-anniversary issue. It’s the perfect marriage of honoring the past while supplying a brand new story that makes sense for this group of heroes.
If you’re unfamiliar with this story, catch up with my review of volume 7 which is a good collection that features big sci-fi ideas fitting of the Fantastic Four. That continues into Fantastic Four #31, which opens this book. The heroes are in another dimension and hijinks ensue, but there’s also some solid character work in other plots.
Things really heat up in Fantastic Four #32, which continues to disassemble Johnny and Sky’s uncomfortable relationship. They’re soulmates, but does Johnny truly feel the love like Sky does? Considering Johnny has been a playboy for decades, it’s an interesting angle Slott has explored. Their relationship is further tested in this issue which focuses on a museum exhibition that features Latverian artifacts. It also happens to have statues made by Thing’s wife Alicia, so there’s a natural conflict at work here.
As seen in the preview, Slott and artist R.B. Silva utilize Victorious more than ever, which is no surprise since she’s soon to be Dr. Doom’s bride. She’s written in a way that’s assertive and exactly what Dr. Doom wants, but there’s still an underbelly of open-mindedness and kindness there. That subtle touch is seen rarely, but it’s still there, which adds a layer to Victorious that’s there for Dr. Doom too but in a different way. She doesn’t hide quite as much as Dr. Doom, and it’s fun to see how Slott can tug out little characterizations. This wouldn’t be a comic book without a big action scene and given the setup at the museum, it’s an entertaining one with multiple sides to the battle.
Slott’s characterization of Thing and Alicia as parents to their adopted children Jo and Nicki continue to be a delight. Joe and Nicki are literally aliens and don’t understand the ways of human culture, which makes them a good source for outlandish reactions and humor. While that’s new, Slott is also playing around with old threads from the Fantastic Four, including the cover-girl Lyja. It’s a clever way to stir the pot and, without a doubt, the cliffhanger of this issue might be the best of the year.
The build towards Dr. Doom’s wedding is sweetened by the backup by Slott and Javier Rodriguez which features a chess match between Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Doom. Opening on State University when Mr. Fantastic and Doctor Doom were still students, Slott sets up the fact that they have a relationship to chess. This plays into the future in a rousing, action-packed adventure that cleverly ties chess into battling. It all leads to an ending you won’t see coming. It also ties well into the main story, making it feel part of a whole rather than a tacked-on backup.
Silva draws #31-34 and he once again proves he’s one of the best artists working at Marvel today with a clean and detailed style that suits the glossy and larger-than-life superheroes. He’s backed up by color artist Jesus Aburtov, who gives the book a bright superhero feel and always seems to slap glints and glows onto the right materials. This issue has a large range of emotions felt across the characters, all of which come through loud and clear.
Closing out the collection are three stories by Dan Slott, Jason Loo, and Mark Waid with art by John Romita Jr., Loo, and Paul Renaud. The main story is by Slott and Romita Jr. in a story called “Death in Four Dimensions.” As the preview states Rama Tut, the Scarlet Centurion, Kang the Conqueror, and Kang’s final descendant, the sinister Scion are all involved to top each other’s egos and ruin the Fantastic Four’s day. The issue opens with the Fantastic Four returning home and Human Torch still overpowered by Dr. Doom’s acts from the last story arc. That gives it a continuation feel from the previous stories while letting Slott and Romita Jr. put a great Kang story out there.
Romita Jr. does well to bring his A-game and his now-iconic penciling, complete with a 3D style that adds volume to characters, is great fun. It’s familiar, unique to Romita Jr., and will surely bring classic Marvel fans a bit of joy. Expect some fun cover art thrown into the stories, right down to the corner box. It’s a great way to honor Fantastic Four history and it amps up the anniversary feel of the book.
Loo writes and draws a two-page story that follows the main one. It’s a fantastically drawn double-page layout that packs a lot of panels into the two pages and is a satisfying story that connects with a classic Fantastic Four villain. It’s called “Some Family Time” and it closes out in a way families can relate to.
Closing out the book is the story by Waid and Renaud called “Stars.” This tale is gorgeously drawn with a great take on Thing and the powers of Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic. It’s basically a retelling of the Fantastic Four origin with new wrinkles thrown in. This one could have been the first story since it catches readers up on the Fantastic Four who might not know, and it adds a bit of new context for old-school fans. One of the best-looking Fantastic Four origin stories put to page.
Fantastic Four Vol. 8: The Bride of Doom is a fantastic way to thoroughly enjoy the Fantastic Four. Dan Slott supplies new stories that feel true to the characters while the 60th-anniversary issue packs a lot of punch from the backup stories. All told, this is a great place for new readers and old readers who have been waiting to jump back in to start.
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