Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four #602 and FF #14 have both come out this week, so it makes sense to combine the reviews for them, since they are telling two sides of the same story, albeit with two very different artists.
The more straightforward adventure title is, fittingly, the classic Fantastic Four, wherein Reed Richards, Susan Storm Richards, Johnny Storm and Aunt Petunia's Favorite Nephew Benjamin J. Grimm aka The Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing (not to mention Spider-Man) are trying to head off a Kree Invasion fleet whose ultimate goal is to actually wipe out the Inhumans. Johnny, thankfully, has control of the Annihilation Wave from the Negative Zone, but it's not enough to ward off a boarding party on their flagship, forcing the team to start cracking Kree skulls up close and personal, with the Invisible Woman in particular getting a couple of pages to shine.
And forcing Reed to use his Galactus-phone to bring the Devourer of Worlds back into Earth's vicinity, as lately he has a vested interest in making sure the Earth doesn't get destroyed. But the Kree ain't shit to him - the Man in the Purple Hat is more concerned with the Mad Celestials stirrin' up the pot over in FF, where the harder sci-fi is happening, and they're trying to bull their way past a pseudo-evil Alternate Reed sporting the Ultimate Nullifier and truly determined Dr. Doom to get through a dimensional portal to come mess with Earth. It's up to Nathaniel Richards and the crew of genius kids to try and figure out a way to stop it... or rather, just buy 28 minutes worth of time between the overlapping of these 'universal constants' to save the world. See, Reed's dad Nate is a time-traveler, and there's a lot of bouncing around between 'then' and 'now' to illuminate what's going on.
While Barry Kitson's art on Fantastic Four is cool and straightforward in its style, once again I had to force my brain to get used to Juan Bobillo's FF style, as it's still initially off-putting, particularly with his depiction of Valeria, the toddler genius who at times looks like an adorable kid and at other times looks like a 100-year-old dwarf. Maybe that's intentional, given how far beyond her years her intellect has developed.
What's most compelling over in FF is what Hickman is doing with Victor Von Doom. For a long while, Doom was chumped out to the Alternate Reed, collared and cowed. Now, it's moving in the exact opposite direction, building Doom up as this willful, powerful force able to stand alone against multiple Celestials in order to buy the time necessary to save the world. Whether it's his bondage that humbled him, or his bond with Valeria that's softened him, Doom actually blinks in the face of this threat... and yet remains steadfast in his commitment to do what must be done, even if it means sacrificing himself - which is something Doom never does.
"I am a foolish, prideful man."
It's hard to fathom Doom ever saying this, but alone in the face of Mad Gods about to deliver unto him his demise, perhaps he would. The Doom fanboy in me is twitching nervously about how he'll come across when this all shakes out, or whether Hickman's actually planning to kill him off. Although that might not be that big a problem, seeing as how he killed Johnny Storm and brought him back in under a year.
There's so much going on in HIckman's story that it takes two seperate comics to encapsulate it all, and it still feels really busy. But it's big-thinking, high-minded stuff dabbling in the cosmic realms, and that's always admirable.
CRAVE ONLINE RATINGS: Fantastic Four #602: 8.9/10, FF #14: 8.2/10