Comic: "Fantastic Four #554"
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Mark Millar
Artist: Brian Hitch
Reviewer: Max Burbank
Plot: Reedís old girlfriend shows up to ask for his help on a science project she and her husband are working on and Sue is starting a super-team charity to raise money for victims of superhuman incidents.
Review: This is one of those great Ďjump on boardí issues, a sort of invitation to get back with a book. No messy back story, no continuing plot you have to have been buying six different books to figure out, just start with a bang smack in the middle of the lives of Marvelís first family.
Back when I was a kid (late 60ís early 70ís, scrape me) The Fantaic Four was the engine of the Marvel Universe, not necessarily the best book, but always out in front carving out the worlds and characters everybody else lived and fought and played with. Not all, but many of the major aspects of Marvel came out of the long, long Stan Lee jack Kirby run on FF. The Black Panther and Wakanda, the Inhumans, The Negative Zone, Dr. Doom and Latveria and the time platforms and Galactus and the Silver Surfer and the Watchers; all this crap just seemed to get plowed up by the FF and slung back over their shoulders for every other Marvel character to exist in.
Since then, the only times I go back to the book are when a new writing and art team make a new start, and because of the book's rock solid family adventure premise, itís a fair shot for anybody. You can jump right in and take right off and usually screw right up, but the tool that Stan and Jack built works really well.
#554 is where Millar and Hitch, the team that brought you The Ultimates, take the helm. Itís an excellent choice, because these guys fit right with the FF ethos, they are all about lots of stuff, very solid, very fast, shoveled up and thrown back over the shoulder. The house of Marvel is a mess right now, and whether or not they are bright enough to take advantage of this moment and let the FF drive is anybodies guess, but if they're smart, they will. Captain America is dead, the Avengers are split in two, the X Mansion is destroyed for the millionth time, Professor X is dead for the millionth time, and Spider-Man? Donít even get me started. This book is in my mind the only hope Marvel has for pulling its head out of its ass, and they can do it by letting the FF get out in front and shape the world again.
I wish they would, and Iíd be very excited if I thought that was where this was going, but I have my doubts, since most of the problems I think need fixing are coming from the top.
This book has a great feel to it, itís fun, itís playful and makes excellent use of the rich character soil the FF have built up over a generation. There I so much doom and gloom in the marvel universe, so many grim, bad-ass, big-gun, clenched-teeth world breakers, nobody is enjoying themselves and itís a breath of fresh air to read something Marvel that doesnít have the emotional quality of a really angry prom getting hit by a tornado.
Nothing much happens in this issue. Itís all set up. But I have a very good feeling about where itís going. Millar and Hitch feel comfortable with the FF the way your ass feels sinking into the seat of a convertible youíve had for years that runs just fine on the first day of an excellent road trip. Letís hope they get way the hell down the highway before anybody notices and screws it up.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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