Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Staying Current Quickie! Fantastic Four #588
Fantastic Four #588-“Three ,Epilogue- A Month of Mourning”
Cover Date April 2011 Price $3.99
Writer/ Artist-Jonathan Hickman/ Nick Dragotta
Cover Tagline: “Final Issue"
What Happened: I'm going to forgo the usual longwinded summary, because frankly, I didn't like this issue. I'll get to that in a second, but let me sum up what happens. This issue deals with the fallout of the death of Johnny Storm, but does so without the use of dialogue. Told in snapshots from a "month of mourning", we as readers are treated to a visual feast by artist Nick Dragotta.
As the month rolls along, we see Sue push Reed away, Reed threaten Annihilus with the Ultimate Nullifier, and the Thing throw down with Thor and Hulk all in the name of grief. Doom even appears in a few spots, having lost his position as ruler of Latveria to his successor Kristoff Vernard. We also find out that the kids of the Future Foundation have a new mission: "Kill Annihilus." And finally we're treated to a backup tale featuring the Amazing Spider-Man consoling young Franklin Richards with his own tales of loss. The cliffhanger of the issue? Nathaniel Richards, the time-hopping father of Mr. Fantastic, appears from a temporal vortex, and with him comes word balloons.
What I Thought: So why didn't I like this issue? Well, it's the words "Final Issue" that really get to me. When I think "final issue" of a series as iconic as Fantastic Four, I tend towards delusions of grandeur, as if somehow everything that could be said about these characters is stated with such climatic fashion that you can't help but feel a sense of closure. Instead, this "final issue" feels like nothing but a stop along the way. While the new Future Foundation series (which starts this month) spins directly out of the events of this issue, I fear for the longevity of the concept. I almost feel as if Marvel could have done a "Future Foundation" maxi-arc (that sounds so wrong) within the pages of the Fantastic Four title and all would be well.
But I shouldn't be surprised. The FF have been canceled and relaunched before, and they tend to even out in the long run. It's just this time the gimmick is hurting an otherwise great story (Hickman's epic) instead of inflating a mediocre money grab ("Heroes Reborn"). I've said it again and again that Hickman's bigger story is something to behold, and Marvel wants to market it in all the wrong ways. But then again, I'm buying all the issues, so maybe they're on to something.
And it's not to say this story was awful by any means. It was perfectly acceptable and at times downright heartfelt. The choice to use a completely visual bookend to the series is a rather interesting idea. I hated the art upon first look, but I soon realized that Dragotta's Gene Colan-esque style is meant to be a homage of sorts to Fantastic Four co-creator Jack Kirby. While I would have preferred Steve Epting completing the entire "3" arc, I can appreciate how Dragotta plays a vital role in the storytelling here. Heck, without the dialogue, the pressure is squarely on his shoulders.
As for the "future" (little pun there) , Hickman has promised a lot of the stories from Fantastic Four will be tying up in the relaunched title. Plots such as the Valeria/Doom deal, the war of the 4 cities, and Franklin's status in the MU are finally going to come to a head. Now if we can get some more Namor/ Sue moments, I may forget how I felt about this issue. So until "dead means dead" isn't an insanely laughable notion, vive la fantastique!