- Writer: James Robinson, et al.
- Penciler: Leonard Kirk, et al.
- Inkers: Karl Kesel and Scott Hanna, et al.
- Colorists: Jesus Aburtov and Israel Silva, et al.
- Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Let’s not kid ourselves, this is not the last issue of Fantastic Four. I don’t care what Marvel says or does. I don’t care how many back-up features or heartfelt goodbyes they cram into the back of this issue, Fantastic Four #645 is not the end. And at this point, I don’t know who Marvel think they’re fooling. The Fantastic Four are going on an indefinite hiatus until the hoopla of Fox’s new Fantastic Four movie dies down. Marvel doesn’t want to give them any unnecessary attention, which is fine, whatever. But to pretend that this is the ‘End of an Era’ is ridiculous.
Heck, just read the issue itself. Fantastic Four #645 is all about the team coming together to defeat their latest foe, and it ends – SPOILERS – with them declaring that they are stronger than ever.
There are no deaths, the team isn’t dissolved, they don’t decide to go on vacation or go out of business. All of the trials and tribulations that writer James Robinson put the team through since he started are wiped clean. The status quo is reset. The characters are a family once again. Fantastic Four #645 is business as usual, and if it wasn’t for all the big ‘This is The End’ set dressing, you’d be hard-pressed to know that this was the end of anything.
But whatever. Marvel can do whatever they want with their comics. If they don’t want to give Fox’s movie any extra publicity, that’s fine by me. No skin off my nose. I’m not going to worry about that. What I care about is the quality of this issue in particular, and thankfully, it’s a pretty awesome comic book.
It would take a page and a half to explain every single plot in this storyline, because Robinson has been building one epic adventure here. He’s juggling several dozen superheroes and teams, more than a few villains, and each member of the Fantastic Four has their own individual plot thread. This is one hectic comic, but it speaks to the skill of both Robinson and Kirk that they keep everything moving along smoothly. I never once got lost in what was happening on the page, and it was quite fun to see all of the great character cameos in the big battle.
As simply as I can possibly make it, the plot follows new villain The Quiet Man and classic villain The Psycho Man as they team up to weaponize the Heroes Reborn Universe from the 90s. As you may recall, the Heroes Reborn universe was created wholesale by Franklin Richards, using his reality-altering powers. The bad guys are using the Heroes Reborn Avengers as their private army, and they’ve turned all of the ordinary civilians from that universe into monsters, which they’re using to invade the real world. The Fantastic Four and their allies, both superheroes and super villains, team up to fight back the monsters, shut down the Heroes Reborn universe and defeat the two Men, both Quiet and Psycho.
And they do. Sorry for the spoilers, but the good guys win, the bad guys lose.
It’s an exciting story, don’t get me wrong. There are some great, heroic moments from all the characters, there are some great twists, and the action is appropriately epic. This is classic, high-scale superheroics at their very best.
But there’s nothing ‘final’ about anything in this issue. This climax isn’t treated any differently, by either the writers or the characters, than any other big superheroic finale. There’s no farewell or goodbye. Like I said, the Fantastic Four themselves end this issue completely whole and ready to rebuild the Baxter Building and get back to business as usual.
There are more than a few back-up features in the book to try and justify the inflated price tag, but they don’t amount to a whole heck of a lot. Several guest writers come in to write short stories for each of the four team members, but none of those are finales either, they’re just standard epilogues. There’s a big feature where a Who’s Who of comic book creators pick their favorite Fantastic Four covers of all time, and it’s a neat idea, but so what?
Fantastic Four #645 is not the end. Personally, I believe the theory that Marvel is playing politics with Fox. But whatever the reason for this hiatus, that’s all that it is: a hiatus. Give it a few months, give it a year or two, the Fantastic Four will be back in no time with a new #1 issue. Fortunately for us now, Robinson and Kirk deliver a solid, exciting finale to their current story, giving every Fantastic Four character a chance to shine, throwing in a ton more characters just for the fun of it, and tying everything off with a bright blue bow.
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