FF #17: High-Minded Hickman Goes Lowbrow

The Roommate Experiment with Peter Parker and Johnny Storm ends disastrously. And grossly.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

FF #17

When you think of Jonathan Hickman, you think of high-minded, intricate and often brain-breaking epics, like the one he recently completed over the last three years of Fantastic Four and Future Foundation comics. His ambitious storytelling on a vast cosmic scale has alternately impressed and confounded people with his concepts and ideas. Lest you think he's some haughty erudite literary snob, however, he's spent the entirety of FF #17 setting us up for one giant blast of bathroom humor. Although even that is intergalactic in nature.

Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, recently returned from the dead in command of the entire Negative Zone armies of the once-nightmarishly-formidable Annihilation Wave, and his need to do something new prompted him to declare he's becoming roommates with his friend Peter Parker, aka the Amazing Spider-Man, much to Peter's consternation. And as we saw in the preview to this issue weeks ago, FF #17 opens with Peter being annoyed and the two of them looking as gay as French horns together, thanks to Nick Dragotta's clean, crisp and kidna retro style. Seems a portal to the Negative Zone is now one of Peter's closets, and that's one of the least annoying aspects of living with a recently-resurrected party animal.

Fake emergency calls in the middle of presentations at work to remind him to pick up drinks for a party, crazy-ass parties with wild aliens and poker-playing horse-guys who disturbingly declare a full house by bellowing "MY HOME IS ENGORGED!" However, it's not entirely annoyance, as this is the marrige-sold-to-Satan swinging single Peter Parker, and he's allowed to drink "non-alcoholic magic mare's milk" and go on a crazy hooch-soaked bender complete with his necktie tied around his head like every 80s movie party montage, starting barfights and making out with blue alien chicks while his roommate starts hitting on his ex, Mary Jane, who's along for the fiesta. He actually has a rollickin' good time, and reconsiders his urgent need to kick Johnny out of his home.

That is, until the one-two punch of the next morning, where the Torch messes with Peter's head by making him believe he might've just had a one-nighter with MJ, and then the coup de gracelessness is found when Peter goes to take a shower. I won't spoil the last page bombshell, but like I said, it's bathroom humor writ large. Literally.

This issue was funny, that last page is unexpected slap-yourself-in-the-face-for-laughing comedy, and while Johnny Storm comes off as somewhat of a douche, by the page before last, he's got respect enough to recognize when the jig is up. Dragotta's art is sometimes awesome and sometimes freakishly proportioned, such as when angry Peter looks like Batboy from the Weekly World News. But hey, FF #17 is an issue of whimsy, and go along for the ride.