by James Robinson, Leonard Kirk, Karl Kesel, Rick Magyar, Jesus Aburtov, Dean Haspiel & Nolan Woodard
More insurmountable odds are stacked against the first family of the Marvel Universe this month. Since the relaunch, Fantastic Four has as many subplots as it does creators on the book which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, this issue in particular is weighted on the side of melodrama that would make telenovelas jealous. This is an issue packed with heavy emotions, cathartic moments and deconstruction.
James Robinson is putting the four through some tough times in recent issues of the Fantastic Four. On top of losing a major court case, getting kicked out of their home, and having their children taken away by S.H.E.I.L.D., they also have to confront the fact that one of the darkest secrets has been revealed as part of the Original Sin storyline. This secret, which began to unfold last issue, is fully revealed and so begins a major division between the male counterparts of the team. The issue ends with the unveiling of one of the misfortunes that Sue hinted at it in her depressing letter from the future that was featured in the first issue of the relaunch.
James Robinson has created a good amount of tension for the FF and this issue piles on more dread for the characters to face. In lieu of cosmic threats or creatures from the bowels of the Earth, Robinson is making the characters face the consequences of past decisions and responsibilities inherent with the powers they possess. Robinson has made good use of Fantastic Four continuity to make this an emotional challenge for the characters. Doing so, Robinson elicits genuine emotion from both the characters and the readers, at first. The misery that this issue is soaked in can be a little overwhelming which may dilute the impact of such emotional scenes. Character’s emotions are justifiable given the immense amount of information revealed this issue but there is not any levity to counter the bleakness that fills this issue.
Art chores are split as they were in issue #6. From the first page, Leonard Kirk, Karl Kesel and Rick Magyar capture the tone of the issue in an emotional full page close up. The mood continues with nicely placed hues that capture the feelings of hurt and surprise in the characters’ faces and postures. Kirk, Kesel and Magyar heighten the tension with expression and reactions that carefully placed in a variety of panel sizes. The final sequence of the issue visually matches the building suspense of the plot and nails the raw emotion of the final page nicely. The flashback has a great silver age tone, Dean Haspiel and Nolan Woodard’s lines and inks allow for more color in the book. Even with the expert animated illustration, Haspiel and Woodard’s segment does not bring levity to the issue. The colors on both segments also contribute to the contrast between segments. Given the downbeat tone of the issue, both art teams shine giving dramatic energy to the heavy emotions.
This isn’t the feel good comic of the week. Judging from the ending, despair and dark emotional challenges will continue for the foreseeable future of the Fantastic Four. Robinson’s character driven plots are emotionally charged, however, in the absence of contrast, it might be too heavy for some readers.