FANTASTIC FOUR: SEASON 1
Story by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by: David Marquez
Colours by: Guru E-FX
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover by: Julian Totino Tedesco
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Book Summery: In Manhattan’s most famous skyscraper, the Baxter Building, scientific genius Reed Richards hatches a plan that will change the lives of those he loves most and the very course of human history in a way no one could have ever imagined. Revisit the story that irrevocably altered comics and pop culture in this all-new graphic novel, modernizing the journey of Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm as they travel to the stars and return with fantastic, devastating results! Plus: Witness the FF’s cataclysmic first battles with the Mole Man, Dr. Doom and Prince Namor, the mysterious Sub-Mariner, in a way you’ve never seen before. You only think you know the story! Also features FANTASTIC FOUR #570 by Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham.
REVIEW: Marvel’s new slate of season 1 books which will feature some of the company’s biggest hitters getting their origins a modern makeover will begin with the first family of comics. Fantastic Four: Season 1 kicks off this new initiative with some style. Featuring a script by Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa who worked on the seriously underappreciated ‘MK4’ series featuring the FF and The Magdalena and Secret Warriors artist David Marquez, this book had a bit of pressure on it to ensure that this new series started off with a good momentum to catch readers interest with the likes of Daredevil, X-Men and Spider-Man yet to come.
Telling a story that is set over a number of weeks we see the origins of the FF from the very beginning. Most alluringly about this book Aquirre-Sacasa is able to break down the characters to what we love most about them. In Reed we see a man who is apparently attracted more to his work than Sue and he is partly oblivious to the signals that his lab assistant is sending his way. Reed is a guy who at heart is a scientist but knows that Sue is the woman for him and he finds some difficulty is dividing his time properly between the two. Sue is the modern woman who by her own admission later in the book was somewhat shallow but came to realise the value of her friends to her. She is perfectly justified in her thoughts that Reed should have her at the centre of his universe but realises that she may have share herself with his sciences.
Johnny is Johnny. What more can be said. He is a great looking guy and he knows it. He is most chauvinistic and sees science as a folly for the ugly but he supports Reed and Sue when they make the fateful decision to enter space on the sly. His impetuousness is never so evident as when he spurts out the teams new name while in the full view of the press. Thankfully The Frightful Four didn’t stick and was quickly replaced to what we know as the FF today.
It is with the character of Ben that Aquirre-Sacasa excels though. From the moment we see him sparring at a boxing hall with two old guys talking about him we see that he is going to be written very sympathetically. It was very easy to connect with Ben as for all his muscle and bravado he was plagued by self doubt, even before his transformation. After his transformation to The Thing he delved deeply into self loathing to the point of suggesting his code name himself. He reluctantly grows into his role as the teams brawn and heavyweight but still at the back of his mind you feel like that the self loathing and doubt is never really far away.
Aquirre-Sacasa utilises some of the FF’s earliest foes in a fluid and believable manner. The character of the Mole Man is no longer the deranged lunatic that he is sometimes portrayed as in other titles but as a lonely, off centre scientist with a penchant for what lives under our feet. His rendering of the character is probably the most easily to associate with of any rendition there has been to date. Even his showing of Doom, though entirely expected, is presented in a means which you would love to see Aquirre-Sacasa touch on in the future.
Once the team receive their powers and work their way into the public eye their direction is much more varied and entertaining than just about any origin telling since Lee and Kirby. From first page to last this book is a blast.
David Marquez may just have a career book here. Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa while working on Marvel Knights 4 had Steve McNiven as his artist whose career sky rocketed after his time on that book, Marquez could well follow a similar path after this book is released. His style most definitely has been influenced by McNiven and even a bit of Frank Cho is there too but his own voice is not drowned out in any way. The idea behind the season 1 books was to modernise the icons of Marvel and Marquez does his part by giving the book an air of authenticity. The social settings are entirely believable and even though the books takes on an air of sci-fi for obvious reasons the world in which the story is set feels very real. That alone could make the book very relatable to new readers. I implore you to take the time and study how he draws The Thing. Every single groove on his rocky exterior is accounted for and for an ugly guy, it is beautifully delivered. His layouts are beautifully rendered and thought out. The characters motions and expressions aren’t in the least exaggerated lending the book further legitimacy. This is a book, in short, that you could start reading over again immediately after finishing just to appreciate it in a whole other light. A genuine 2012 tour de force.
As a bonus to the story as if the main part of the book wasn’t value for money as it was, you also get Fantastic Four #570, the pivotal first issue in Jonathon Hickman and Dale Eaglesham’s already famed run that helped redefine the FF for a new era of readers. This is an epic book and does a wonderful task of speaking UP to new readers and is the epitome of what a great comic should be. This book is now a tent pole for the rest of the Season 1 books and the bar is set very high as a result. You may ask, legitimately, for the need for yet another retelling of the teams origins and you could talk for hours about the reasons for and against it but what you can’t escape is the fact that book is hugely enjoyable and a credit to all involved.