Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Joe Quinones and Laura Allred
Release Date: April 24, 2013
In the wake of Medusa’s disappearance, the remaining leaders of the Future Foundation take a “day in the life” issue (is there really any other kind?) to search her out and continue to deal with the reality of taking the Fantastic Four’s place and being responsible for the most diverse group of kids you can imagine. As the Yancy Street Gang targets Ms. Thing for daring to take Ben Grimm’s place, we are treated to a darling revelation from one of the junior members of the team.
Let’s get the latter story beat out of the way first. In a fit of encouraging synchronicity, for the second time this month mainstream super-hero comic readers are treated to a scene involving gender identity and coming out that feels more real than anything we’ve seen in a comic to date. Even in a book as patently surreal as FF, Fraction manages to capture the very essence of the moment with such beautiful elegance that I literally could not help from shedding some tears. In the space of a single page, the writer brings this character along — who until this moment stood out almost not at all to me — and breathed life into her and her peers with such a high level of compassionate intention, and without sacrificing the mood of the title in the least. Far from a simple funny book, this title really stands out today as a worthy successor to the best character studies Marvel has produced in its 50 years, and makes me salivate for the opportunity to place a Fraction/Allred FF Omnibus on my shelf next to the latter’s previous opus of this sort, X-Statix.
Mike Allred’s work is missing in this issue, ironically, but the choice of Joe Quinones to fill-in is quite pleasing. Sure, Quinones doesn’t exactly have the perfect pop flavor Allred brings to the title on a regular basis, but he does an exceptional job trying to match that energy. Close-ups fare better than panels with multiple characters and background, but the sea of Ben Grimm masks still elicited a grand chuckle and his inking maintains that sharp style we’ve come to expect from the title. As always, Laura Allred’s colors provide a beautiful continuity and energy to all the characters, not the least of which Ms. Thing of the vibrant hair herself.
If there’s one thing to be said about this issue, then, in relation to previous issues, is that it comes as proof to Fraction’s culpability — not just his artists’ — for the high quality of the title. FF is the book I’d always wanted Fantastic Four to be, a farce of sorts reveling in its own ludicrousness, but still at its heart, a beautiful tale of familial love. If previous versions of the First Family fell short for me, it would be for their dedication to the reality of family life amid chaos, when truly, the best and most honest moments are seeming to come through the chaos and insanity directly, not in spite of it. Ever the powerful and intrinsically fun read in equal measure, FF remains one of my favorite titles to come back to every month. Keep up the great work, team!