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'Fantastic Four: Life Story' TPB review
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Fantastic Four: Life Story’ TPB review

Watch and celebrate as the Fantastic Four live their lives in real-time in a journey across six decades.

Writer Mark Russell and artist Sean Izaakse take on an adventure asking, “What would it be like if the Fantastic Four aged in real time?” Starting the story in the 1960s, helping celebrate the actual release of the Fantastic Four, showcases the First Family’s history and imagines how these characters would interact with these situations and people. Now the trade paperback collection will collect the entire story and let us take a peek inside to see what this new world can show us.

Fantastic Four: Live Story
Marvel Comics

Mark Russell capitalizes on the Space Race of the 1960s to help give a strong origin story for this version of the Fantastic Four. I enjoy the use of President Kennedy and how he straightforwardly asks Reed Richards to help get America into outer space. I also like the foil of Dr. Ricardo Jones as the naysayer to both Kennedy’s and Richards’ optimism. Dr. Jones will play many parts later in this story, but one of his best is shutting down Richards’ ship, which of course, causes Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben to gather and sneak out.

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In this world, Reed and Sue are still engaged, Johnny is Sue’s little brother, and Ben knows a guy. That part of how Ben connects to the team was a little lacking, taking away his place on the team and family. It was a more substantial connection having Reed and Ben be college roommates or even schoolmates if they don’t want Ben to be college material, but instead, he is a washed-out pilot. Yet it does help to add to Ben’s grumpier outlook on everything. Mark Russell does a great job with the dialogue between the main characters, keeping that family vibe and demeanor that we are used to with the FF.

Fantastic Four: Live Story
Marvel Comics

Galactus is incorporated into the group’s origin, which is why Reed is distant from everyone. It helps to connect him to the science side of heroics as well. There are many times Russell plays Richards’ warnings as the rantings of a crazy person, and it works to show there is respect for Richards, but it only goes so far. Sue’s growth in this story fits with the times, as she doesn’t want to move into what a woman’s role was to be in those times. Each issue has a different member narrate, and Sue’s issue is the second; it was such a vital issue and helped to show why she is the most critical family member.

Artist Sean Izaakse has had experience with the Fantastic Four in their regular series, so he was a perfect fit here. From issue #1, Izaakse knew these characters and had the perfect vibe and body language for them. Izaakse does a great job showing the FF age, especially with Sue and Johnny. His 1970s Dr. Doom is the best with his manly features and wild hair. Speaking of Dr. Doom, the battle scene is a great moment to highlight one of the action scenes in this story. Now there aren’t too many action scenes as this is more of a character piece, so Izaakse plays to using his facial art as a spotlight. Izaakse gets some art assistance with Francesco Manna on issue #4, Carlos Magno on issue #5, and Angel Unzueta and Ze Carlos on issue #6.

Fantastic Four: Live Story
Marvel Comics

The art changes are not a problem as they work nicely with the different periods and how they play on the pages. I believe Francesco Manna plays the flashback to Izaakse’s main work on the issue, but they blend delightfully. The other artists work together enjoyably as in this trade, and you can read the issues together instead of having the monthly wait, which might add to not noticing others working on the art. Nolan Woodard helps to keep things consistent with his colors, which helps to keep things lively no matter what decade.

This trade paperback contains a worthwhile story with the wonder of an issue of What If…. Yet it plays it out longer, giving us versions of characters we care about and get to experience their lives longer than just the usual issue. The story and art will grip you, and you might be able to consume this in one or two sittings as you can find yourself enthralled by Galactus, just like Reed Richards was. Or you’ll want to see how Sue finds herself and makes the world more for others, or maybe you’re just enjoying Ben’s struggle and how he’ll get his groove back. This is a celebration of the FF that is careful with history and character for your entertainment.

'Fantastic Four: Life Story' TPB review
‘Fantastic Four: Life Story’ TPB review
Fantastic Four: Life Story TPB
An entertaining celebration of the FF that has a story of a haunted man, a woman finding liberation, and a family with growing pains. Mark Russell & Sean Izaakse, and others help explore history and how the FF would've interacted in those times. An adventure you won't want to put down and will also make you want to celebrate the power of family.
Reader Rating1 Votes
Mark Russell takes established characters and lets us discover them all over again
The art department is wonderful together as a whole and blends nicely
Having Galactus play out as a haunting alarm for the end of the world was such a great hook to feel sorry for what it does to Reed Richards in this story
The TPB has no extras which is a shame as an interview would've be a great feature, but the price point does help that loss
This would've been fun to have had shared continuity with Spider-Man: Life Story, but it does well to stand on its own
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