Released as part of Marvel’s “Season One” series of graphic novels earlier this year, Fantastic Four: Fantastic Origins is a new release that retells the well-worn origin story of Marvel’s first family in a modern setting.
While it’s a solid enough comic and a quick, accessible read, the unfortunate fact remains that unless you’re completely oblivious to the FF origin story, there isn’t really much here to justify picking this one up. Granted there are a few minor tweaks along the way, along with a little modernisation of the world the Fantastic Four inhabit, but for the most part this is a straightforward retelling of an origin that has been covered time and time again in a variety of different media over the years.
The artwork, while serviceable enough, feels way too sterile and waxy for my tastes, with the overtly digital colouring of Guru-FX only adding to that feeling. David Marquez is clearly a talented artist, and there are several moments along the way that really stand out (the giant monster combat is, pardon the pun, fantastic), but there’s just something about the way his pencils and inks combine with the glossy colours that made it difficult for me to connect with his characters on anything other than a superficial level.
These criticisms aside, the one thing about this graphic novel that I really did enjoy was the way Aguirre-Sacasa and Marquez handled the introduction of Namor. Having him wandering New York as an amnesiac homeless man before being jolted ‘awake’ by the arrival of the new version of his old adversary the Human Torch is a neat touch. And, while the ‘burning the beard off to give him his traditional look’ moment did make me cringe a little, Namor’s first showdown with the FF – not to mention his sexually-charged exchanges with Sue – provide the unquestioned highlight of the book for me.
While it isn’t without its charms, and would likely make an entertaining introduction to the world of the Fantastic Four for complete newcomers (or indeed younger readers), this is a hard book to recommend to anyone else. The colours are suffocating the artwork throughout, the story is overtly familiar, and even Namor’s abs and entertaining modern twist can’t save this one from feeling like a bit of a damp squib.