“Future Foundation” as a concept harkens back to the Hickman’s run on “Fantastic Four” and was largely focused on presenting higher concepts and situations, pushing the boundaries of the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, this latest volume fails to capture that entrepreneurial spirit, and it’s somewhat formulaic approach did not deliver something remarkable on this first issue.
Written by Jeremy Whitley
Pencilled by Will Robson
Inked by Will Robson & Daniele Orlandini
Colored by Greg Menzie
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
A BRAND-NEW SERIES STRAIGHT FROM THE PAGES OF FANTASTIC FOUR! When the Richards family is called back to Earth to be the Fantastic Four again, they left behind the Future Foundation — a think tank of the most brilliant young minds in the universe — with one mission: to find the pieces of and rebuild their friend Molecule Man. But that’s proved harder than imagined as this crew of young geniuses, Atlanteans, Mutants, Moloids and androids have run into every problem in the Multiverse. Now, with the leadership of Alex and Julie Power and a little extra firepower from guest professor Yondu Udonta, the team will undergo their most dangerous mission yet — a PRISON BREAK! Jeremy Whitley (UNSTOPPABLE WASP) and Will Robson (GREAT LAKES AVENGERS; Spawn) take the Future Foundation on a heart-pounding journey across time and space!
In some ways, “Future Foundation” exists in a bit of an identity crisis. In trying to be multiple things at once, it fails to connect to any particular aspect effectively. First of all, this series is a companion to the Dan Slott-written “Fantastic Four,” featuring the genius children that orbit Marvel’s first family. Second, from its aesthetics and tone, it reads like an all-ages book, from its more cartoony style to the way dialogues are written. Third, it tries to add new dimensions to the Marvel mythology, particularly linking characters and situations not seen before.
Talking about the positive first: the art by Robson and Menzie is an inspired choice. Robson’s pencils are exaggerated, but not fully cartoony, and he nails one aspect that several experienced artists fail to, that of the body proportions of children or teenagers. His characters are not miniature adults (with the often bulb-sized heads over tiny bodies), but rather fully rendered to their correct age. This might seem like an obvious compliment and one that should be taken for granted, but it is something that often fails to hit the mark.
His facial expressions are also very detailed. A big chunk of “Future Foundation” #1 has the children and their adult chaperone Yondu talking with one another, and reacting to each own’s vastly different personalities. It is here that the art is at its most cartoony, but it works impressively well. Robson knows just how far to push that envelope without damaging the overall consistency of the book, and still making it truly expressionist.
Menzie’s colors are very aligned on that endeavor. That is surely a light-hearted tone to the pallete, despite having to go through a setting that is mostly enclosed in alien bunkers. Menzie utilizes every opportunity he gets to instill life into the issue, be it through sharply-lit energy signatures, costumes, or even facial elements for some of the characters (note how Yondu’s fin is seen a very bright tone of red).
However, it is on Whitley’s overall structure and script that “Future Foundation” #1 stumbles the most. As a first reaction, new readers will likely feel lost. Sure, there is the usual narration box explaining who everyone is and some of their backstory and powers, but why they are there, and why they behave in a certain way is amiss. There is a sense of pretension that readers know who these characters are, their past exploits, and what is happening on the main “Fantastic Four” book that takes some of the enjoyment of a first issue.
Second, the structure of the story itself compounds the problem. The current adventure starts mid-course, and it is not played as a broader mystery. Instead, it feels a lot like reading the second issue of a series, where some of the pieces have already been laid out and it is to the reader’s fault (at least partially) to do some of the homework reading the debut issue that came before it. There are some dialogues and flashback that explain how things got to this point, but it is structured more like a last-minute addition, rather than something woven into the plot from the beginning.Continued below
The adventure itself is fun, but it does not bring anything materially new and exciting, which some of the audience members for a “Future Foundation” book might be expecting. There is little in terms of broader sci-fi high-concepts, and even the situations will feel rehashed. This is your usual team heist, or escaping from prison plan that readers have likely read several times before. True, there are some twists and turns that are unexpected, and some inspired use of some of the children’s powers, but it does not go much beyond that.
One highlight, though, is how light and fresh character interactions are. Out of all the elements it is going for, “Future Foundation” #1 nails the all-ages aspect the best. Dialogue among the kids are fun and not pandering to its audience. It feels a lot like a well-done Saturday morning cartoon of old, avoiding certain mature teams and situations, but going head-first, respectfully, on the topics it does tackle.
All in all, “Future Foundation” #1 reads a bit like a missed opportunity, in the sense that there seems to be potential within, but the structure, pacing, and core plot concepts are ill-managed and too mundane for their own good. Hopefully future issues will be more focused on what it wants to present and deliver, and revel on its strengths, rather than spreading them thin.
Final Verdict: 6.4 – While there are several ingredients in the pot, none of them feel truly special to rise to the top on this first issues of “Future Foundation.”