“FF” #2 was essentially a better version of “Fantastic Four” #2 — it was still a good comic, but seemed a bit unnecessary to those readers who were picking up both (which, granted, isn’t everyone reading “FF”). With the books finally separated, does #3 step back up to the level of quality that #1 presented?
Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Mike AllredThe new FF take to the streets to celebrate 2013! How does the world respond?
How do the kids of the Future Foundation feel about these new grown-ups running the show?
And what does Scott Lang have in store for Doom? The war begins..
Matt Fraction is letting his imagination go completely wild with this series, and it is a true delight to behold. One of the new, yet old, variables that Fraction introduced in this issue was his new take on the Yancy Street Gang, a depiction that left this reader simultaneously tickled and impressed. When people talk about updating things “for the modern age” in comics, it often means making them darker and more “mature” (that is, not mature at all). Fraction’s new take on the Yancy Street Gang, though, is sure to leave readers laughing — not only because it’s funny, but because it is brilliant. Without spoiling anything, nearly faceless pranksters who ocassionally work for good causes? It’s a definite “wish I had thought of it first” idea and seems so obvious with hindsight… but isn’t that the true mark of being clever?
Naturally, ideas aren’t everything — a comic still needs to be well written in order to communicate those ideas. Fraction’s dialogue has been on point lately, and he uses his talent to full effect in this issue. While Fraction certainly writes She-Hulk and Medusa well, the real stars so far have been Ant-Man and Miss Thing, and that trend continues in this issue. For all the plot-building in this issue involving the FF’s guest from the future, the issue’s true draw is the great interaction between Darla and Scott as the latter convinces the former to return to the group. There’s so much heart in Scott’s letter and his dialogue, properly evoking the image of the man who needs something in his life to work. Darla’s responses to both that and, earlier, the previous issues are equally compelling, and Fraction convincingly presents us with someone who has been thrust into a situation unlike any she had encountered before — though, at the same time, I have the hunch that further parallels between her pop star/superhero life will soon be established.
This comic wouldn’t be what it is, though, were it not for The Doc. Mike Allred’s quasi-retro, psychedelic style is perhaps what drives the book more than anything else; it clearly reads like a comic intended to be illustrated by Allred. Concepts such as Doom the Annihilating Conqueror and Miss Thing just have that out-there, ridiculous yet wonderful quality that only someone like Allred could pull off (and, of course, he does). While many people focus on style when talking about the good Doctor, though, one can’t forget to mention just how technically talented he is, and one of his most notable qualities is how emotive his work is. On Fraction’s post-release breakdown of the issue, he specifically mentions the page where Wyatt Wingfoot examines “Johnny” as a page he used to test out his partnership with Allred, and the moment of silence is handled with a master’s eye. The shifting of posture and facial expression convey much more than words ever could, and reveal a man who few in the industry could ever rival in only a handful of panels.
Allred’s panel-to-panel motion is, for the most part, highly nuanced, with pages such as Scott enlarging himself to “save” Darla sticking out as finely nuanced, and his layouts are cleverly though out. There is one page, though, that seems like it could have been so much more: the race of sorts between Scott and Darla down the stairs is clever in theory, but does not flow smoothly. The two flanking panels could probably either have been thinned down to serve as borders or reduced to a single vertical panel in order to get the same idea; as they are, they confuse the eye, and make Allred’s typical leading arrow less of a stylistic choice and more of a reading necessity. That’s one page out of twenty though — in my old high school’s grading system, that’s still an A.
If comics like this and “Hawkeye” are any indication, 2013 is going to be Matt Fraction’s year. “FF” is mad and wonderful at the same time, offering the kind of off-kilter ridiculousness that could only be seen in superhero comics, and Mike Allred is the only artist who could do it justice. Sorry, Young Avengers fans — “FF” is still the best of the Marvel NOW! books so far.
Final Verdict: 9.1 – Buy it!