Fantastic Four: The New Fantastic Four


By Dwayne McDuffie, Paul Pelletier, Rick Magyar & Scott Hanna (Marvel)
ISBN: 978-0-7851-2483-2

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 a magically enthralling epic on offer in this terrific tome.

The Fantastic Four were – usually – maverick scientist Reed Richards, his fianceé and later wife Sue Storm, their friend Ben Grimm and Sue’s teenaged brother Johnny, driven survivors of a private space-shot which went horribly wrong when Cosmic Rays penetrated their ship’s inadequate shielding.

When they crashed back to Earth the quartet found that they had all been hideously mutated into outlandish freaks. Richards’ body became elastic, Sue gained the power to turn invisible and project force-fields, Johnny could turn into living flame, and tragic Ben was trapped as a shambling, rocky freak. Shaken but unbowed they vowed to dedicate their new abilities to benefiting mankind.

After years of stunning adventures the close-knit fantastic family came to a parting after the Federal Superhuman Registration Act put the team on opposing sides of the costumed heroes’ Civil War, when Reed sided with the Government and his wife and brother-in-law joined the rebels. Ben, appalled at the entire situation, dodged the issue by moving to France…

This volume collects Fantastic Four #544-550 (June-November 2007 and originally running as the story-arc ‘Reconstruction’) and picks up in the aftermath of a group reconciliation, with temperaments still frayed and emotional wounds barely scabbed over…

The witty drama begins with ‘From the Ridiculous to the Sublime’ as, in an attempt to repair their damaged marriage, Reed and Sue take a second honeymoon to the moon of Titan courtesy of the Eternal demi-gods who inhabit the artificial paradise, whilst on Earth, Ben and Johnny are joined by temporary houseguests Black Panther and his wife Ororo, the former X-Man Storm.

The royal couple of Wakanda have only recently been forced to leave their palatial New York embassy after it was bombed…

No sooner have they settled in than old ally Michael Collins – formerly the cyborg Deathlok – comes asking a favour…

When a young hero code-named Gravity sacrificed his life to save Collins and a host of other heroes, his body was laid to rest with full honours. But now, his grave has been desecrated and the remains stolen. When the appalled New Fantastic Four investigate, the trail leads directly into intergalactic space…

After visiting the Moon and eliciting information from pan-galactic voyeur Uatu the Watcher, the quartet travel to the ends of the universe where cosmic entity Epoch is resurrecting Gravity to become the latest “Protector of the Universe”.

Unfortunately she might not finish as the Silver Surfer and Galactus’ new herald Stardust are preparing the sidereal monolith to be the World-Eater’s latest snack…

‘Don’t Make Me Embarrass You in Front of Your Friends’ finds Reed and Sue nearing Titan and beginning their break as, in another corner of the Cosmos, the FF battle the gleaming invaders in a desperate holding action. Whilst the Panther and Collins return to Earth for a Deus ex Machina weapon, ‘Aw, That’s Just Crude’ sees Gravity revived just as Galactus himself shows up, ravenous and ready to eat everything…

As the new universal protector shows his mettle by defeating the planet-devourer, Reed is forced to put the honeymoon on pause when his idle examination of an interstellar probe makes him suspect that the entire solar system might well be in danger…

‘Never Ask Her if she’s Wearing Colored Contact Lenses’ finds Reed back on Earth, with Sue simply sunning herself on Titan. However, whilst Mr. Fantastic’s suspicions are confirmed by fellow heroic super-scientist Hank Pym, The Wizard and a host of super-villains from previously iterations the Frightful Four attack and capture the Invisible Woman, but only after a truly cataclysmic clash…

Already distracted by the revelation that an alien race on the verge of extinction had sent the probe as a warning and that an all-consuming horde of marauders dubbed Contrasepsis was heading earthward, Richards flies off the handle when the Wizard boasts of Sue’s plight via long range radio beam. However when he rushes to return to Titan, Reed’s ship explodes…

Luckily the wily Panther had suspected a trap and ‘Kind of an Expensive Test’ finds the heroes hurtling towards the outer moon and a Battle Royale with the despicable scum who had tortured the Invisible Woman.

Even though the Wizard had a terrifying hidden ally, the devastating duel eventually ends in the good guys favour, but not before Sue displays why she is the scariest member of the FF and not one to ever be pushed around, after which ‘So I Guess You’re Saying the Honeymoon’s Over’ finds the Fantastic Six hurtling into deeper space where the Contrasepsis are massing. What they find is a violent degradation in the fabric of reality and a massing of the Watchers, all gathered to observe the end of everything…

It all comes together in a spectacular anniversary romp wherein the assembled heroes, Gravity, Stardust and the Silver Surfer and master of magic Doctor Strange unite to solve a cosmic mystery and save the conceptual being who is the very personification of life in ‘Should Eternity Perish’

Also including a cover gallery from fan-favourite Michael Turner and pencilled pages from the penciller, this brilliantly scripted yarn by Dwayne McDuffie, with captivating art from Paul Pelletier, Rick Magyar & Scott Hanna, perfectly blends high-concept action with dazzling wit and razor-sharp comedy moments to create a perfectly wonderful Fights ‘n’ Tights extravaganza no clued-in, space freak comics fan could possibly find fault with.

Fantastic Fun. Get it.
© 2007 Marvel Characters Inc. All rights reserved.