Fantastic Four #512 Review

Reviewer: Ben Morse
Story Title: “Spider-Sense pt. 1 of 2”

Written by: Mark Waid
Penciled by: Mike Wieringo & Paul Smith
Inked by: Karl Kesel
Colored by: Paul Mounts
Lettered by: Randy Gentile
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

For those who have complained Mark Waid got too caught up in the whole “Dr. Doom/things suck for Reed” thing over the last year or so and lost the fun that was clear and present in his initial FF issues, this issue comes along to show that Mr. Waid is not a one trick pony and can give you serious FF or funny FF whenever he so chooses. But even though this is most definitely a more light-hearted issue, the consequences of the last twelve plus issues are still resonant and are enough to keep you hooked to see what is next for our heroes and their friends (and their enemies).

This issue is packed with good stuff, but it would be a crime to say anything is more entertaining than the Human Torch-Spider-Man friendship that is the story’s centerpiece. It’s one of comicdom’s classic buddy relationships that hasn’t been as entertaining as Waid made it here in a good twenty years. The irony of the FF suddenly inhabiting Spidey’s usual spot as public enemy number one and the way Johnny Storm reacts to this are great. Johnny is the guy you love but just want to smack because he’s so dense; Spidey actually ends up playing straight man (and doing a fine job of it). The sight gags don’t seem forced or contrived, they’re funny as hell.

Meanwhile, The Thing’s one scene is brief but poignant: the man gave up heaven and was rewarded for it by becoming a monster again. It says a lot about where Ben Grimm stands in the dynamics of this family that Reed couldn’t deal with having a scar on his face for more than a year (our time) and yet Ben gave up ultimate happiness and took on the burden of being “scarred” all over once again because his family needed him. Mark Waid gets these characters and this scene both reminds us that and shows us that there are still many wounds, literal and figurative, from the team’s trials of the past year.

The “back up” story with Reed and Sue is camp, but fun. They make me want a Namor guest shot in these pages sooner rather than later, but the ending is an interesting cliffhanger.

I’ve never been the biggest Mike Wieringo fan in the world, but he’s hit a nice groove on this book and is definitely a good fit. He shines more in these humor-laden stories than in the serious stuff, so this was a good issue for him.

Fantastic Four continues to be one of the more enjoyable books on the market. Just when you think Mark Waid has told his epic and has run out of stuff to do, an issue like this one shows you he’s still just getting started.