Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist(s): Sara Pichelli, Nico Leon, Elisabetta D’Amico, Simone Bianchi, Skottie Young
Colourist(s): Marte Gracia, Marco Russo, Jeremy Treece
Letterer: VC’s Joe Carmagna
Release Date: 6th March 2019
Back in the summer of 2018, one of the most exciting events in Marvel Comics (no, thankfully not that kind of event) was the long-awaited reunion of the Fantastic Four. The “Fourever” trade paperback, on sale now, collects the first four issues of the new series, and sees Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli taking the reins of Marvel’s First Family.
The structure is impressively tight throughout this four-part arc, as we see Ben and Johnny having mixed results trying to get on with their lives, the Future Foundation getting into some real trouble in the Multiverse, a truly epic physical (and cerebral) showdown with the physical manifestation of Entropy, and their eventual reunion and return to Earth.
Slott and Pichelli do a terrific job of delivering humour, drama and the same kind of high-stakes cosmic awesomeness that has helped make Hickman and Scalera’s Black Science such a hit for the last five and a half years. This trade also serves as a perfect jumping on (or jumping back on) point for these characters, and tells you everything you need to know in a gentle, unobtrusive way.
It should probably come as no surprise to anyone that Dan Slott handles these characters as well as he does here, particularly given his stellar cosmic run on Silver Surfer back in 2014/15. What’s perhaps a little more impressive is the fact that Pichelli takes to the FF like a duck to water, delivering expressive characters and unconventional locations, and adding an impressive level of clarity to her frequently crowded panels. This is a great looking book, and Pichelli’s bold style is given an added jolt of energy by the bright, lively colours of Marte Gracia throughout the course of these four issues.
The story itself fits into the finest superhero traditions, delivering an epic-scale threat but doing so in a way that still prioritises intimate character moments. The dynamic between the ‘Big Four’ is believably complex, and the way they work together alongside the children of the Future Foundation – and a few special guests – to survive the seemingly unstoppable cosmic threat emphasizes the strength of each individual member beautifully.
The return to Earth is handled cleverly with a quirky obstacle to be dealt with in the form of ‘The Fantastix’, a new super hero group who have taken over in the FF’s absence, and clears the slate effectively for the series as it moves forwards. Plus, any chance to include The Wrecking Crew – one of my low-key supervillain favourites since the days of the original Secret Wars – is always going to be a plus point in my book.
Aside from the main story, we also get some supplementary content here, including a stunningly illustrated Doctor Doom short story (or prologue?) from Slott and Simone Bianchi, and a quirky one-page gag from Skottie Young. All nice additions to help flesh out a series that’s marketing itself as a “comic magazine” rather than a straight-up comic series.
I’ve never been the world’s biggest fan of the characters, but in the right hands, The Fantastic Four can be one of the most exciting properties in the entire Marvel Universe, and I’m happy to report that based on this collection, Slott and Pichelli are most definitely the right hands.