Matt Fraction’s first issue of Fantastic Four was not exactly earth-shaking; it was one of several books that kicked off with a major character starting to die, an ongoing theme in the Marvel NOW! reboots.
But a lot of what the main book lacked, FF has in spades.
The first issue is pretty much an introductory one, which it has to be in light of the enormous cast the book has. But Fraction handles it cleverly. The kids are introduced in asides where they’re speaking to the camera while being interviewed.
The individual interviews take up about a page apiece, and they’re really a showcase for Fraction’s talent and skill as a writer: He concisely sums up each character and what makes them unique in a few, often very funny, panels. He writes realistic children, even if they’re mutants or clones.
These are inserted between individual stories of each member of the Fantastic Four recruiting their FF replacements while they go into space. A nice touch is that they each go about it in their own way, and it makes for some superb character moments, whether it’s Sue Storm and Medusa sympathizing over the obligations of their husbands or Reed… well, Reed being Reed to Scott Lang.
Meanwhile, Mike Allred handles the art, and he pays tribute to Kirby while keeping his own style:
The art is unmistakably Allred, but he’s careful to make sure he’s drawing a Fantastic Four book. The real joy is in the detail Allred works into the backgrounds, with the elaborate, Kirbyesque machines that lie around the building, and his imitation of the lighting Kirby tended to use in these books.
It’s a book that’s by turns cute, funny, and touching. While there isn’t much action, you don’t miss it: Fraction has proven, again and again, he can write an action scene and Allred can certainly draw a violent tableau. It’s these two showing off the other range of emotions that make this a book worth reading, and brings up the question of what will happen next.