Fantastic Four #8-11 (Comics Review)

James Robinson’s deconstruction’s of Marvel’s First Family has seen the Fantastic Four go through some really troubled times of late. Old villains coming back. Interdimensional invasions. Getting thrown out of the Baxter Building by the Avengers and SHIELD. The children of the Future Foundation all being taken away from Sue and Richard. Sue taking on the Avengers by herself. The falling out between Ben and Johnny. And so much more. It has been a trying time for the family team of late, and with the Original Sin event these bad times certainly didn’t go away, especially not once James Robinson began to revisit the plot-threads he had introduced in the very first issue a few months back.

To be honest, this review is kind of me catching up to this massive backlog I built up for this series. As such, there are a ton of things to unpack here. But suffice to say that after laying down a lot of groundwork in the first seven issues, James Robinson finally moves forward with the “real” story progression as he touches on concepts that plots that were hinted at back when the series started and that we continue to see how the Fantastic Four are fracturing up, divided as they are because of various reasons like Johnny losing his powers, Ben arrested for murder and so on. Robinson’s writing gets ever more heart-breaking with each issue, even as the art teams switch in and out over the course of these four issues.

There are two important plotlines in these four issues that really do bear a mention.

The first is what happens to Ben when he is found holding the corpse of Alicia’s villainous father in his arms and is arrested by SHIELD, sent in to police the members of the Fantastic Four following the disastrous court judgement against them a while back. Sent to a superhero prison, Ben comes face-to-face with an old ally-turned-villain who is now working for the Fantastic Four’s enemy-in-shadows, and who has orchestrated their downfall since the start of the series.

The second is the little subplot involving the android Agent Hammond going after Future Foundation’s ally Dragon Man, keeping his promise to the FF kid Alex that he is going to save Dragon Man, no matter what. And since he also ends up meeting Sue in Fantastic Four #8 and makes a similar promise to her about all the kids, his story takes on a very interesting turn. And it looks like there is indeed a massive conspiracy in place because orders have come down to kill Dragon Man and yet Hammond can’t turn up who ordered the execution and why.

This is the underlying thread connecting these four issues, intricately so, and one of the great things in all of this is that James never loses sight of what his characters want, what is happening to them on a personal level (as we saw a while back in the Fantastic Four Annual #1 issue when Sue stormed into Latveria to get her daughter back from Dr. Doom), and what is going to happen to them down the line.

Fantastic Four has been very dark and dreary for the most part since the reboot and James Robinson never lets up on that whole vibe, but it is still interesting to see that he is telling this grand epic story that touches on all corners of the Fantastic Four universe and draws in some of the team’s signature villains and allies alike, or even those who flit between those two extremes. I’m not sure what I was expecting from the run when it started, but James keeps delivering on the goods, and I’m really surprised that he has managed to make it all last so long, when many other writers would have just gone for simple brevity and the ending already.

But then, that’s what makes James such a great writer and the Fantastic Four fit right in with his program. His run on Earth 2 was quite similar, in that each set of issues had a distinct arc, but overall the story continued to advance and progress, building on all the concepts and ideas that were introduced before. And I just love that with Fantastic Four.

On a personal level, my favourite moment in these four issues has to be when Scarlet Witch makes an appearance towards the end of Fantastic Four #10, in a very badass manner. That was too good, and while the following issue skimped out on most of her badassery, just getting to see her on this title, and her conversation with Reed was certainly very interesting.

Leonard Kirk is the artist on #8, with Scott Hanna on inks, Jesus Aburtov on colours, VC’s Clayton Cowles on letters, and the cover by Leonard and Nolan Woodard. Marc Laming is the artist on #9, with Scott contributing only a small handful of inked pages with the rest of the team remaining similar except for Nolan replaced by Israel Silva. The same team continues with #10 though Marc assists Scott on the inks and Israel is replaced by Jason Keith. Leonard comes back in this week’s #11 with Karl Kesel on inks, Jesus and Clayton still doing their thing and the cover itself by Leonard and Jesus.

That’s quite a few changes in just four issues, but is all very well worth it since the art is incredible. The artists often focus on the character’s body language and facial expressions over the course of the four issues and each moment is incredible since the features and pose are just so goddamn natural and realistic.  Some of the scenes involving She-Thing in the various issues are a bit odd given that she looks more like Thing himself, rather than a man, owing to the fact that her entire body is a mirror to that of Ben, and not the same as Ms. Thing, who simply wears a suit or some such. The action scenes involving the supervillains, of one stripe or another, the personal moments between Sue and Reed, Johnny flying off the handle, everything is rendered really nicely and adds to the overall feel of the four comics.

Quite incredible work so far, and more like a long, extended version of Death of Wolverine, though without any deaths, hopefully.

Rating: 9/10

More Fantastic Four: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6-7.

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Posted on October 20, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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