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Fantastic Four Vol. 10: Reckoning War Part 1
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Fantastic Four Vol. 10: Reckoning War Part 1’ is a loving exploration of what makes FF events great

Though the antagonist and conflict seem cartoonishly simple, Reckoning War Part I nevertheless captures the true joy of over-the-top events.

One of the many good bits of news out of SDCC this year was the announcement that Dan Slott was being awarded an Inkpot Award, a sort of Lifetime Achievement award for a wide umbrella of nerd culture. It’s well deserved—Slott’s long career is filled with true gems and massively long, acclaimed runs with major characters. It seems almost prescient, then, for the first book of his decades-long teased Reckoning War to be released just now.

Fantastic Four Vol. 10: Reckoning War Part 1
Epic.
Marvel Comics

Though the RW concept has been floating around since 2005’s She-Hulk #3, Reckoning War Part I doesn’t quite feel like the career-defining epic deserving of a near 20-year windup. This isn’t to say that it isn’t compelling and fun, just that in its first half RW hasn’t exactly landed the dramatic shock and awe implied by the hype. Rather, it plays out like a slightly elevated Saturday morning cartoon.

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While incredibly cool and exciting, the ever-escalating chain of universe-threatening Big Bads is becoming tedious. Certainly The Reckoning is more frightening than Annihillus (who features in this book as an underling), but doesn’t that in some way undermine the events of Annihilation? Does that mean that those heroes’ deeds and sacrifices are somehow lesser, now, in comparison to those going up against The Reckoning?

Fantastic Four Vol. 10: Reckoning War Part 1
Everybody in!
Marvel Comics

It’s a necessary function of superhero books, obviously; stakes must be raised indefinitely, or else things begin to feel airless and without impact. But this threat seems particularly generic: big green humanoid warlords, not much removed from the Badoon or the Skrulls in appearance. The main dude’s name is Wrath, for god sake. Sure, The Reckoning are ancient and from beyond the bounds of our infinite space, but we’ve dealt with that before with The Beyonder (twice) and then, of course, The Beyonders, Map Makers, Black Priests, etc, etc, etc.

Sure, their origin is more interesting than the Beyonders (whose whole deal has been treated with a sort of shrug and shake of the head), but it also heavily revolves of already extant entities: the Watchers did this, essentially. This means this is a Universe Shattering Event™ by way of retcon.

None of this is to take away from Slott’s rather masterful handling of these characters. Even in the hectic, universe-hopping juggling of a dozen classic characters, Slott manages to keep the central truth of each of them. As noted in our review for the previous trade, Eternal Flame, Slott always manages to provide loving insight to Marvel classic characters, as if guiding their sometimes-forgotten emotional depths from decades past into the present.

Fantastic Four Vol. 10: Reckoning War Part 1
There’s even a Guardians 3000 nod.
Marvel Comics

And such characters! This book brings in a diverse crew of neglected, Slott-created cosmic entities, classic space pirates, and TVA agents to add depth of purpose and scale to the sometimes weightless Universe Shattering Event™.

With five massive artistic talents (and three massive color artist talents) handling these issues, Reckoning War also spans a visual palette as diverse as the cast, each of them nailing the exact tone of their respective issues. Rachel Stott handles the main Fantastic Four issues, giving the Marvel Universe a sleek, unified crispness, while the event-starting bomb drop of Reckoning War Alpha is given more realistic, shadowy depth by Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz, and Carlos Magno. Finally, Trial of the Watcher, a sort of brutal, weaponized What If…?, is given a timeless elegance by the masterful Javier Rodríguez.

Fantastic Four Vol. 10: Reckoning War Part 1
Who better to explore Marvel History?
Marvel Comics

Even at its flattest, Reckoning War Part I resonates with a love and deep understanding of what makes the Marvel Universe bombastically iconic. Both Slott and his collaborators have presented a gorgeous Fantastic Four, and never once do their constant string of cameos and aside feel like missed opportunities.

Fantastic Four Vol. 10: Reckoning War Part 1
‘Fantastic Four Vol. 10: Reckoning War Part 1’ is a loving exploration of what makes FF events great
Fantastic Four Vol. 10: Reckoning War Part 1
Though the antagonist and conflict seem cartoonishly simple, Reckoning War Part I nevertheless captures the true joy of over-the-top events.
Reader Rating1 Vote
8.3
Understands its characters right down to its smallest cameo.
Understands what makes Big Events such a thrill.
Decades of hype for a green guy named Wrath.
8
Good
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