The Fantastic Four #1 brings back Marvel’s first family after a three-year hiatus. We left The Fantastic Four in an interesting place, that being no place at all? At the end of Fantastic Four #645 Reed and Sue Richards as well as their children Franklin and Valeria have been lost to some unknown region. Basically, lost in some alternate dimension and as far as the world knows they are dead.
You cannot have a Fantastic Four with only two members and that is why Johnny and Ben decided to disband. Johnny continued to live in the spotlight as a superhero and celebrity – never giving up on believing that Sue and Reed were still alive. During this time Ben grew closer to his love interest and girlfriend at the time, Alicia.
Ben decided to try and live a normal quiet life with Alicia. And the thought of taking their relationship to the next level continued to fill his head. And this is where the story begins, just like out of the pages of Fantastic Four #1 1961. A signal is fired into the sky spelling out two words, Fantastic Four! And Dan Slott’s writing as well as Simone Bianchi, Sara Pichelli and Skottie Young’s art bring Fantastic Four #1 to life.
The launching of the old signal flare from years ago instantly gets the attention of both Ben and Johnny. Johnny at a baseball game instantly gets a smile on his face and flies right over to the source. Johnny still believing his sister and brother in law are alive races across the city with a huge grin. He is ready to be reunited with his dimension-ally lost family.
Ben, on the other hand, knows what he will find when he gets to the source of the signal flare, disappointment. That is what Johnny was greeted with when he arrived on the scene. A couple of kids had broken into the recently and nearly abandoned Baxter Building.
They stole the old signal flare from the early days of the Fantastic Four and set it off. By the time Ben finally arrives the police and lawyers had already shown up. They were letting the minors go with a misdemeanor. Johnny being the hot head that he is wants more punishments, but Ben talked him down since they are only kids.
Ben heads to the Baxter Building together to return the signal flare to its rightful glass case home. They are looking at all of the artifacts from various adventures through their history together as a team he begins to reminisce. Johnny and Ben have always had a brotherly relationship with mostly bickering and arguing.
So Ben heads to the Baxter Building to talk to its caretaker Shecky. Ben remembers a story when the entire family was flying through space. A time when they were trying to determine who on the team was the best singer. This is a prime example of the family fun comedy that was key in the Fantastic Four. The entire team agrees that its Johnny, except for Sue. Reed had never been able to summon the courage to tell Sue about her singing.
And the whole sequence with Johnny singing “Danke Schoen” by Wayne Newton is hilarious.
Back to earth, the present Ben is talking with Alicia. But something about even the hope of seeing Reed and Sue changes something in him. Ben decides that he has to make the one thing in his life that is making him happy permanent. He decides to propose to Alicia. Wanting to celebrate the good news and tell Johnny, Ben invites him to dinner. At dinner, Ben asks Johnny to be his best man in a moving couple of panels.
This all changes to something even more moving and unexpected. Johnny flat out refuses this real genuine olive branch Ben is extending. Johnny believes that the only person that can be Ben Grimm’s best man is Reed Richards. This infuriates Ben and Johnny flames on out of there to yell into the sky in need to cool off. He eventually comes back to apologize to Ben and accept his generous offer.
But then the Fantastic Four #1 hard cuts to a distant planet and a familiar pair of silhouettes working on some sci-fi machinery. And back on earth citizens and other superheroes look up into the sky with Ben and Johnny to realize that a giant moon size 4 is being lit up over the night sky. Reed and Sue are still alive and out there trying to return home. The comic then ends with a tease, in Doomstadt Capital of Latveria, a very real and very angry Doctor Doom is back. And he wants his country to kneel before him.
Art & Visuals
The art in Fantastic Four #1 is broken up by a few different artists and we start with Sara Pichelli’s work. And it is very nice in this issue the colors are all bright and vibrant. And there is a lot of work done to have very expressive faces, especially in the emotional moments.
The moments towards the end and especially the last panel with the giant 4 over the earth were especially nice as well. The artwork by Simone Bianchi, however, is dark, gritty, and amazing. Showing the bleakness of Latveria perfectly and especially when Doom makes his entrance. Doom covered with his signature green cloak covering his scarred face is chilling. The art in those few pages is some of the best in the entire book.
Also, the small one-page comic illustrated by Skottie Young at the end is a great way of jabbing fun at the book. Showing a Skrull looking character named Impy complaining about how can’t they have a Fantastic Four book while the team is still broken up and finding each other. But he gets a letter saying they will be together next week and that he is watching Marvel and is fine to wait one more month for the team to be back together which is what we are all feeling as well.
Fantastic Four #1 is Fantastic to the core!
Fantastic Four #1 is an absolutely perfect place for people to start reading The Fantastic Four. It is a slow reintroduction back into these characters, what makes them tick and what bonds they have together. This shows off the family dynamic and why these characters have been so beloved for over 50 years because they are just a family who happens to have super-powers and go on galaxy-spanning adventures.
If you have ever even had the slightest interest about the Fantastic Four and don’t want to have to go through 50 years of history artwork this is a perfect jumping on point. Dan Slott knows these characters and I’m excited for the adventures to come!