Reckoning War kicked off in the Alpha issue and it continues in Fantastic Four #40. When the moon has been destroyed and that’s not even the biggest problem at hand, you know you’re in for some epic storytelling. Dan Slott and Rachel Stott continue to show how this event feels akin to some of the greatest cosmic events in Marvel history.
The issue opens on an alien world where the main villain Wrath speaks to a weakened and tied-up Watcher. The preview shows he finds Watcher well worth killing and that the Reckoning means business. They were the folks who blew up the moon, after all. As that threat lingers, the heroes band around Mr. Fantastic to find a solution to avenge the destruction of the moon and stock the Reckoning from achieving their goals.
The heroes actually end up following Mr. Fantastic’s lead more than the band around him. He’s got the knowledge of every Watcher in his brain and he’s moving fast to ensure the good guys win. Mr. Fantastic’s decisions and actions serve as the central plot of the issue, driving forward acts that will set up future interactions and conflicts. Slott does a good job keeping a lot of information flying and the pace of the story always moving forward.
Along the way, there are check-ins with some key characters which help show how big the universe is and how big the story is going. There’s a key moment involving Silver Surfer, for instance, that is not only huge in scope, it’s a bold choice to show what’s going on in a fleeting moment. It’s unclear if this is a throwaway sort of moment to explain where Silver Surfer is at, or if it will play into the story later, but it’s a neat way to show how the Reckoning has set the cosmos into chaos.
Customary of classic Marvel cosmic stories, this book is dense with dialogue, characters per panel, and plot. Stott is a big reason why it feels this way thanks to her detailed art that doesn’t hold back even when there are many characters on the page. The details in the art are impressive, like a moment when the Fantastic Four enter their living room and a variety of family members can be seen in the background. Stott also does a great job with how the Watcher aliens look. Their huge heads, skinny faces, and thin limbs add an otherworldly look that’s reminiscent of angels or something truly special.
Jesus Aburtov is the perfect color artist for a book like this. There’s a great shine to everything and brightness that suits Marvel’s cosmic storytelling.
With so much plot and exposition, however, this issue can’t quite escape its table setting feel. There are a few big swings with cut-aways, but the actual main characters are mostly following Mr. Fantastic’s lead to do…something? You can tell it’s a labor of love with a lot of characters featured, but it lacks that event feel. Hell, when Moon Knight pops up the scene plays out in a wacky sort of way that’s a fun idea, but does it really fit with the universe in danger? In a comic that loves Marvel heroes and history, the answer is yes, but for a book that’s setting up such a big story, it feels out of place.
Fantastic Four #40 sets up a lot of moving parts for the Reckoning War that’ll likely pay off later. Above all else, this is a love letter to Marvel heroes, past events, and the incredible scope of cosmic Marvel.
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