Review: FANTASTIC FOUR #1

FANTASTIC FOUR #1
Written by James Robinson
Art by Leonard Kirk
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: February 26, 2014

FANFOUR2014001_DC11_LROminous times await the first family of the Marvel Universe as James Robinson and Leonard Kirk kick off the newest volume of Fantastic Four.

Robinson wastes no time telling readers that this is not going to be a walk in the park for the F4. He’s bringing hard times to the family and there is immediately an immense amount of tension in this first issue. Robinson does a fantastic job of setting up the team dynamic in these early pages and making the setting and story accessible to new readers without being another origin tale to bore old readers to death. He uses a seemingly routine F4 situation as a backdrop to acclimatize new readers to what the Fantastic Four are capable of, and how they work together as a team while also delving deeper into some of the emotional issues at hand. The best Fantastic Four comics do not shy away from some of the issues of family life, which are only amplified by being a superhero team, and Robinson makes it very clear that he is going to be examining what happens to this family as it begins to fracture. We don’t know a lot of details yet but something big is definitely looming, and it casts a shadow over the entire story, bringing a huge amount of dramatic weight to every sentence in the comic. For long time readers with a stake in these characters, the ominous foreshadowing will get the hair on the back of your neck raised as you worry about what is coming for these beloved characters. Robinson does an excellent job of letting the tensions slowly build, never playing his hand or divulging what is coming at the F4, and letting it build naturally. The pacing of this story is fantastic, introducing characters and elements of their lives in perfect succession to make the intros feel natural and not like a roll call. This is a very well written first issue, a great jumping on point for new readers, and I was completely engrossed by the story. Robinson’s words had me at the first page and they never let me go.

And Leonard Kirk’s stellar art just sealed the deal. No matter the strength of the script, the story can soar or tank based on the work of the artist and this one soars. Leonard Kirk delivers the best work of his career in this issue, hitting every emotional beat perfectly and giving readers the visual weight of the ominous tone he and Robinson were striving for. He captures the essence of each character very well, doing their personalities justice as much as their power set, and the amount of emotion he puts in their facial expressions is fantastic (pun intended). The emotional center of the team, Sue Richards, is dynamic by his hand, her character going through a spectrum of emotions in a single issue and Kirk does each extremely well. Karl Kesel’s inking work fits very well with Kirk’s style and two deliver art that is pitch perfect for the story being told. Their shot angles and panel structures keep that tension brimming throughout the issue and never let the reader feel fully comfortable with the situations in front of them. Colourist Jesus Aburtov takes the pencils to the next level and makes characters like The Thing really leap from the page, with those baby blues evoking so much emotion late in the issue. This is an art team that simply knocked it out of the park and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got up their sleeves next.

Fantastic Four #1 was an excellent debut issue for this volume that set an intriguing tone for what is to come. Robinson and Kirk are in total sync with the story being told and the net result is a simply fabulous comic book. Old readers, new readers, hop on board, Fantastic Four is one of the strongest comics in the Marvel line again.

The Verdict: 9.5/10

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