Matt Fraction, Karl Kesel, Raffaele Ienco
For the record, I’m not some kind of weird curse on ongoing series. I apparently just read a lot of books that end sooner than I would like. So join me, as you did for Fearless Defenders and Young Avengers, as I say goodbye to the Fantastic Four. Well, not goodbye forever, obviously. Just goodbye to Matt Fraction’s run on the title. The gang will be back in February for the All-New Marvel Now! with another all-new #1.
This has been an ambitious arc that doesn’t just develop within the pages of Fantastic Four but also in FF, another Fraction book that is ending (next week! Should I review that one, too, just for funsies?). I can appreciate the scope of the story but I have to admit that I’ve been lukewarm about the series since pretty early on. The things I love about Fraction as a writer (the way he humanizes heroes in such a relateable way, his snappy banter, and how steeped in pop culture he can be) have been largely absent from Fantastic Four. But not so with FF, which is what makes this such a hard comic to read. I guess that means, fortunately, it’s all over, and he can focus on Hawkeye and Sex Criminals, both of which he is writing the hell out of, much to my delight.
Timing didn’t seem to work out so well with FF and Fantastic Four‘s release dates, though having not read the former, I can’t say that with any actual certainty. At the end of Fantastic Four, there is definitely a conclusion to the story (as much as there can be, given the new series coming out next month) but we’ve only seen half of the finale. So the party felt a little hollow to me, like we were celebrating a little early. The Fantastic Four being reunited with the rest of the Future Foundation was a treat but not knowing really how it all came about conclusively took some of the enjoyment out of it.
What did I enjoy? Lots, let me assure you. While running a story over two comics for 16 issues, especially a time-traveling, multi-dimensional story, can be confusing and exhausting, all the classic elements of a good Fantastic Four story are in place: Dr. Doom is threatening every universe he can get his hands on, the Four (with help from another Four) band together to prove that family will always triumph over Doom, and somebody dies. Well, somebodies. And only for a minute. It’s not that big a deal. Everybody has to die a couple of times in the Marvel Universe. It’s just how things go. So while the story itself isn’t all that inspired, it’s still a decent read, even if the pay-off didn’t make me exactly glad that I stuck with it for 16 books.
The art was fine. I’ve never read anything drawn by Raffaele Ienco but it was pretty standard comic fare. Nothing spectacular but it wasn’t bad, either. There isn’t much to say for it, really.
I guess, overall, I expected the Fantastic Four finale to be something a little more amazing and over the top. But perhaps that’s the problem with a story that takes place across two books is that, without the other, it can’t genuinely feel like an ending.
Maybe I’ll have more to say after I’ve read FF #16 but, for now, I can only rate Fantastic Four #16 a 6/10.
I hope the next volume is a little more fantastic.