FANTASTIC FOUR #1
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Sara Pichelli, Elisabetta D’Amico, Marte Gracia, Simone Bianchi, Marco Russo, Skottie Young, Jeremy Treece, Joe Caramagna
Edited by Alanna Smith, Tom Brevoort
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 8, 2018
“It’s about damn time.”
That sentiment doesn’t open Fantastic Four #1, but it sure does take the words out of the mouths of every fan of Marvel’s original family who is going to reach for the debut issue.
An extra-sized adventure with a thirty-page lead tale, a nine-page backup, and a one-page Impossible Man closer, Fantastic Four returns to the Marvel Universe in a fun, heartfelt way. Dan Slott writes the whole issue and Joe Caramagna showcases tremendous lettering versatility for the variety of tales in Fantastic Four #1, but each installment showcases some strong art.
The lead story, “Signal in the Sky” opens with one of the most masterful single-page encapsulations of the extended Richards-Storm-Grimm family I have ever seen. Each of the original four has a piece to say, and they combine into a wonderful melody scripted by Slott. The story itself grounds the Thing and the Human Torch in their every day lives, checking in on them as they handle life less fantastic. Slott writes one of my personal favorite portrayals of the Thing, and Fantastic Four #1 is no exception. The writer’s take on Johnny Storm is as hotheaded as ever. The circumstances and curve balls thrown at the duo in this issue are a nice appendix for their Marvel Two-in-One adventures, and a fine introduction to the two characters, so long as you’re able to roll in to lives in progress.
Slott does a breezy drive-by of how the Fantastic Four came to be significantly fewer, but doesn’t linger. He’s interested in building a new future for these characters and quickly does just that. He does, however, reward readers with a flashback tale from the Fantastic Four’s archives, and certainly seeds those upcoming adventures in doing so.
Slott is blessed to have Sara Pichelli onboard for the story. From the start, Pichelli draws the characters as her own. She’s not trying to ape any style or appearance – she’s just drawing. Judging by the energy in every panel, I’d dare say Pichelli is having a fun time drawing. With brilliant colors from Marte Gracia, Pichelli fills the pages of Fantastic Four with wonderfully expressive and individualized characters, which is quite a feat, considering Slott wrote in a baseball stadium. There aren’t a bunch of cutouts in the stands around Johnny, and even more, Pichelli identifies Johnny and his one-time roommate Wyatt Wingfoot by body type. Wyatt isn’t anywhere near as massive as the Thing, but he’s definitely someone Johnny looks up to.
My only nitpick with Pichelli’s art is her portrayal of Ben Grimm’s rocky countenance. I like the size and weight she describes Ben with, but his texture and edge are a bit softer than I’m accustomed to. But it’s still pretty darn good. I imagine another issue or two and I’ll forget I ever mentioned this.
Pichelli does get an assist from Elisabetta D’Amico, who is not credited in-story, but is listed on the creator credits page. This is to her credit (no pun intended) as the visuals for every page come across collaboratively and wonderfully, with Gracia, D’Amico, Pichelli, and Caramagna all blending together.
Although far more serious in tone than Mel Brooks’ classic movie, Young Frankenstein, the tale “Our Day of Doom & Victory” opens with Zora reminding me of Frau Blücher in her excited observations of Castle Von Doom. A nice nod to Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the people is the anchor of the nine-page backup, as change is in the air in good ol’ Latveria. I’ll use this as a request platform: can we have Simone Bianchi and Marco Russo handle all future Latverian storylines? They’re a fine match for a Doomed country.
The issue ends with a letter to the reader, a splash of next issue’s cover and a somewhat-post-credits “What the Pop?” one-pager. Skottie Young gives us the Impossible Man summing up expected fan reaction for this issue in a light-hearted way.
And thus ends Fantastic Four #1. Slott is on record as saying Fantastic Four is the title where anything can happen, and he makes sure to live up to that in this issue. It’s not incredibly adventurous, but it is offbeat, fun, and energetic.
According to renowned comic-book archival site, Mike’s Amazing World, the release date of August 8 is the actual anniversary date of the first issue of Fantastic Four, which was released August 8, 1961. As anniversary gifts go, this one’s pretty darn awesome. Even more noteworthy? The “traditional” 47th anniversary gift is books.
A great opening chapter, but a story that requires some previous knowledge of the Fantastic Four and the Marvel Universe on a larger scale. This is the perfect welcome back for long-time fans, but a potentially daunting introduction for new readers who might get hung up on details that are slim in this story about Marvel’s First Family. Add in the gripe Impossible Man shares, and there are definite areas where the next issue can mark improvement. All the same, this is one you’ll want to read. And if it’s summer where you are, Fantastic Four #1 is a fantastic summer comic.
The Verdict: 8.5/10