Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest

By Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch with Paul Neary, Andrew Currie and Matt Banning (Marvel/Panini UK)
ISBN: 978-1-84653-404-1

If you’re new to the first family of comic books, or worse yet returning after a sustained absence, you might have a few problems with this otherwise superb selection of high-concept hi-jinks featuring Mister Fantastic, Invisible Woman, The Thing and the Human Torch. However if you’re prepared to ignore a lot of unexplained references to stuff you’ve missed there’s two magically enthralling tales on offer in this chunky tome.

Collecting the contents of Fantastic Four #554-561, the wonderment begins when Reed Richard’s old college girlfriend reappears with a request and proposition he simply cannot refuse. Alyssa Moy is as smart as Richards but she need help finishing her latest project – a fully working replica of planet Earth for the entire race to escape to when (not if) the original is destroyed by climate change and humanity’s abuse.

Designed as the ultimate gated community, disaster strikes when its robotic police/peacekeeper unit “Cap” escapes into the real world. Created to deal with any sign of conflict it goes on a rampage, destroying superheroes and armies alike. Nothing can stop it, but Mister Fantastic has an idea…

Doctor Doom returns for the next mini epic, only to be humbled and abducted by a new team of super-beings who seem linked to the Torch’s new girlfriend. As the body count and collateral damage rises, Reed discovers he’s been betrayed by Alyssa Moy and events spiral to a climax that could wipe-out reality itself…

Tense and gripping with superb art from Hitch and inkers Neary, Currie and Banning, plus evocative colouring by Paul Mounts, these super-science sagas revolve heavily around the FF’s roles as a tight-knit family and the human dramas seldom play second fiddle to simple tights ‘n’ fights action.

Potentially confusing at first, but a cautious, conscious perusal will deliver great rewards for fans of the genre.

© 2008 Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved. (A BRITISH EDITION BY PANINI UK LTD)