Fantastic Four #1 Spoiler Review

James Robinson, Leonard Kirk, Karl Kesel, Jesus Aburtov

Reed Richards should really invest in advanced… what’s the word I’m looking for? ‘Locks’. Reed Richards should really invest in locks.  If he did, however, we wouldn’t have the hackneyed final moments of this issue, in which one of Reed’s other-dimensional portals simply opens itself up again, something that has seemingly happened once a year lately, and lets a demonic army loose upon New York City.  It’s a goofy moment in an issue full of goofy moments, from the opening decision to ‘flash forward’ to the end of the story – a storytelling device that should be forcibly retired for the next decade – to a lengthy, bog-standard mid-issue fight with Fin Fang Foom.  But what irritates me most of all is the utter lack of meaning ascribed to the act.  This isn’t the cause of some simple mistake or the result of long-simmering tension.  It’s merely a thing that happens in an issue full of things that happen.

What ever happened to James Robinson?  What happened to the man who wrote Starman, one of the all time great comics?  This issue is just… sloppy.  It’s not just the pacing, though that’s fairly thoroughly off.  When Robinson focuses on character, on location, he still excels – and there are flashes of that in Fantastic Four #1 that suggest some promise for the future of the book.  But for the most part, he gets bogged down in meaningless genre tropes and stylistic dead-ends.  It’s reasonably entertaining – the Fantastic Four beat up a big dinosaur man, after all – but it’s too small to be epic, too big to be intimate, and too brief to develop much momentum or suspense.

Leonard Kirk and the art team fare significantly better, but they can do little to salvage such a plain script.  Kirk seems to be going for a fairly typical widescreen style, and he largely does a solid job with it.  The opening page, where Sue begins writing a letter, is excellent, all darkness encroaching on that last little sliver of light, and the cut-to-black title page is certainly cinematic, even if it is a complete waste of space on something I’ve already seen done and done better (most notably in many of Hickman’s books).  The fight against Fin Fang Foom, on the other hand, featured little worth getting excited over, a sizable misstep when it takes up so much real estate in the issue.

Fantastic Four #1 isn’t a bad issue of comics.  It’s fine.  It’s got good art, but Kirk isn’t exactly a revolutionary talent, and he can’t particularly turn a mundane story into something memorable.  Robinson hints at exciting things to come – big sweeping character changes, a new status quo, tragedy.  It all sounds really interesting.  But, if I’m being honest, I’d much read an interesting Fantastic Four #1 than an advertisement promising that Fantastic Four #5 is going to be off the hook.  Maybe it will be.  Robinson was once an exceptional long-form storyteller.  That doesn’t make me more impressed about this one, though.

My Rating: 2.5 / 5

Fantastic Four #1 review cover - Cover by Leonard Kirk