Written by Johnathan Hickman
Illustrated by Barry Kitson
The War of Four Cities: Part Two
As the War of Four Cities heats up, the Universal Inhumans enter the fray! What role will the FF play in things to come? Prepare for epic battles, live lost and saved, and the awaited return of a beloved Marvel hero!
You certainly can’t claim that Jonathan Hickman lacks ambition. FF hasn’t even been around for half a year and yet it already looks like things are about to come crashing down. The Council of Reeds are in position to pretty much ruin everything, and it’s going to take a council of supervillains – and maybe somebody else – to stop them. Has Hickman bitten off more than he can chew? Follow the cut and see.
Unlike the majority of the Fantastic Four/FF issues Jonathan Hickman has written, I was more attracted to the characters and their reaction to the things going on around them then the plot itself. Now, don’t get me wrong, there was still a good deal of buildup for what’s to come – it wouldn’t be a Hickman comic if there wasn’t – but until that last page (which we’ll discuss later) there wasn’t a constant barrage of everything that you thought you knew changing like there was in the first four issues. That’s fine, though, because the two scenes in particular where Hickman slows down his hitherto breakneck pace are both touching and poignant. Just how shattered is Ben by Johnny’s death? What really sets the 616 Reed apart from the rest of the council? Until his Fantastic Four run, I was a bit worried that Hickman was more interested in telling his stories than exploring his characters, but his run with Marvel’s first family has proven that concern wrong, especially from “Three” on.
Artist Barry Kitson has been in the industry for a while now, but even he must be feeling a bit of pressure following up superstar Steve Epting. I’m only saying that, though, because Epting has been receiving such acclaim – you certainly can’t see the pressure in Kitson’s art. His lines are clean, his figures solid, and one might even claim that his action is more dynamic than Epting’s. Like earlier contributor Dale Eaglesham, Kitson’s style seems to be greatly inspired by the classic Marvel artists of the 60s and 70s, while still keeping a modern touch. The cherry on top, though, is how unified everything still looks – switching from Epting’s issues (#1-3) to Kitson’s (#4-5) is far from jarring, despite the differences in their respective styles. That can mostly be attributed to colorist Paul Mounts, who has helped shaped the look of the Fantastic Four for almost ten years now just as much as any penciler that has joined the book.
For me, the biggest disappointment in this issue was the last page – which is funny, because it seems to be one of the things that many people loved about it. Normally, I wouldn’t directly address something plot-related in a review (so skip to the next paragraph if you don’t like even the most obvious of spoilers), but I think it’s fair game to mention this one since it’s there on the cover: Black Bolt is back. It’s not that I think bringing back Black Bolt so soon (Hickman could bring back Johnny Storm next issue and my response would be “let’s see how this plays out”); rather, the standard last page reveal just isn’t effective. We’ve known Black Bolt has been coming back for a while, thanks to solicitations. Of course, not all comic fans keep up with solicitations regularly, but – as I mentioned earlier – in this case you only have to look on the cover. I’m sorry, but if the cover of an issue has a shadowy figure that looks an awful like Black Bolt standing over the members of the Future Foundation, I’m not going to be very surprised when the final page shows Black Bolt sitting in his throne. This certainly isn’t Hickman’s fault, and it doesn’t hurt the issue as a whole that much, but still. Weak, Marvel. Weak.Continued below
I think that my overall opinion on this issue is similar to my thoughts on Undying Love #3. Is it the issue that you’re going to be talking about when talking about the most awesome issues of the month? Probably not, unless you’re a massive Inhumans fan. Is it a solid issue that is going to make Hickman’s FF run as a whole structurally sound? I would bet money on it. Just because I’m not raving about this issue like I have about past issues doesn’t mean that this isn’t yet another good issue from a writer whose work with the Fantas– err, the Future Foundation is going to be remembered for decades.
Final Verdict: 7.5 – Buy it!