FANTASTIC FOUR #1
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Mark Bagley
Release Date: November 14, 2012
The first family of Marvel Comics hits Marvel NOW! with a bang in Fantastic Four #1 by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley. I’ll admit to being somewhat worried about this book when it was announced…I’ve been burned too many times by a superstar pairing like Fraction & Bagley, two creative forces you think should be great together but for some reason fizzle out, and I am proud to report that is not the case. This first issue rocks!
Fraction has been open about his stance on the Fantastic Four, and his desire to really make the book about family. Crazy space/time adventures will be the backdrop, but at the essence this will be about family and that really comes through in this first issue. Rather than focusing only on some crazy Reed Richards tangent throughout the whole issue, we get glimpses of what matters to each of the Four, and how the addition of the kids in the FF have really changed their lives. The dialogue in the issue is crisp, and so very natural, part of me had to wonder if Fraction has had variants of these conversations with his kids, or if his family dynamic is helping him channel something unlike he has ever written before because I have never read a version of the Fantastic Four that is this accessible and real. Yes, ‘real’ in the manner that they are about to travel through space and time, but ‘real’ in the sense that the emotions are bang on, and while this family is extraordinary, they are also just a family with all the happiness and worries that entails. I worried for the poor sole who got to follow Jonathan Hickman on this title, but I think Marvel found the right guy for the job in Fraction.
On the art front, Mark Bagley provides fantastic visuals to go with Fraction’s script, nailing the subtle nuances between Reed and Sue and drawing one of the best Things I have seen in awhile. His pencils during the calm moments with Sue absolutely floored me, and I found his art actually calming during that sequence, as it was meant to be for the children of the FF. Bagley isn’t a new kid on the block, and that confidence and storytelling ability gels with Fraction’s script very well to create a dynamic and accessible first issue to what could be one of the standout titles of Marvel NOW! as the initiative moves forward.
I’ve heard Hickman’s run be criticized as being difficult to access for new readers, what with all the moving pieces constantly building on each other, but that time is over. This Fantastic Four is highly accessible, extremely entertaining, and a fantastic read.