Fantastic Four #530

Reviewer: James Hatton
Title: Truth In Flight
Published By: Marvel Comics

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils: Mike McKone
Inks: Andy Lanning
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letterers: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Dan Buckley

Family.

Friends.

Togetherness.

Cosmic-Radiation.

These are the glue that hold together the Fantastic Four. Called, rightly so, the first family of comics, these four have seen it all together. Universe shattering monsters, super-villains, political dissension, and even friends and family coming and going. The fact is that Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and The Thing have all remained the constants.

JMS likes to twist things. We’ve already seen that he can take a somewhat silly looked over point about Spider-man and turn it into an entire discussion as to the origins of the character itself. He’s now turned his attention to the F4, and where I have my points of minutiae that cause me some grief, generally the concept of what he is doing is strong.

Story!

Reed Richards is a genius. That’s his MO. A smarty-pants until the day he dies. He’s been requested to help a government group of uber-smarties on their quest to replicate the accident that turned the Fantastic Four into the superheroes they are. The moon is in the seventh sun, and Jupiter is aligned with Pluto; everything is exactly as it was when they made their first faithful journey into space.

Reed though needs to do this alone. He believes, through his new research, that maybe the radiation that pierced them wasn’t so much a random freak occurrence, but a message to be received and responded to. For Reed and fam to be there in the exact same way again, Reed feels that he would be saying ‘Yes, we got it’. Remember how I said Reed was a smart cookie? Yeah, he was totally right.

So now we have an alien following the Fant 4, and when it finally makes itself known (first only to Ben, which seems an interesting point of notice), he himself has a problem. That’s for you to read about though.

If I was to give you the problems with this story, I would start by the subplot of child services and the Fant 4 going untouched. Unless they come home, and the kids are gone – I’ll be completely dissatisfied, since their actions this last few issues are actually backing up the claim that they are arguably bad for their children. Upping and wandering off for a science experiment that might KILL THEM doesn’t seem like the thing to do, especially when you are being questioned for being bad parents.

The other problem is that this storyline rings of ‘not entirely new’. If you disagree with me, go read (or watch) Carl Sagan’s “Contact”. Similar enough to notice, different enough to ignore, and when it comes to JMS, someone I hold in high regard as a storyteller, I don’t want to be able to find such a quick and easy comparison.

ART!

Let me address the cover, as I am prone to do occasionally. The FF all being bombarded with radiation. That happened in the book too, but it amazed me how prone I was to staring at Sue’s breasts. Check out the cover, and tell me how amazing it is that this very fine cover makes you just gawk at her chest. I try not to be oogly fanboyishly dirty, and sometimes i even succeed, but just seriously, look at those breasts.

Ok – sorry about that – sometimes something catches me off guard about a comic, and that whole breast thing did. Internally, the art is fantastic. Mike McKone and Andy Lanning do a fine job at this book. The story itself covers quite a few different vibes. (The space ship scene, the desert scene, the alien culture, etc.), and each have their own feel and vibe.

I might yell that the coloring is a little TOO vibrant at times, but that would be, and there is one panel that Reed looks like he’s taken in too much of the Spice (See: Dune), but all in all a fine looking book.

OVERALL!

Hit or miss. That’s really how I lay this one down. The writing is fine, the art is fine, but the overall plot isn’t striking me as something uber-amazing. That is the standard I hold JMS up to, and this story isn’t reaching it’s goal. I don’t quite miss Mark Waid yet, but I am starting to believe that JMS might not have the heart of the FF in mind, as much as he had a story he wanted to tell.

We won’t be able to tell that until the end though.

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