Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #1

Title: Meet The Inhumans

Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Jae Lee
Colorist: June Chung
Letterer: Chris Eliopolous
Publisher: Dan Buckley

It was bound to happen. The Fantastic Four are the team of Marvelites that are destined to go on interstellar, cross world, cross galaxy adventures. They are the ones who when the Skrulls are attacking, or Galactus is sending down his herald, will be there.

So when there is a poor girl running through the streets of New York, it must be an interstellar threat.. why? Because Johnny Storm is there!

STORY!

What would you do if you were told you had to marry some guy that was totally skeevy? What if your scale of reference was the fact that every single member of the society you live in are a bunch of freaks, due to a process they go through at a young age? You’ld probably be severely bummed. That is the story of Crystal, elemental Princess of the Inhumans. She does what any one in her place would do… run like hell.

Of course, it doesn’t matter that the Inhumans have lived in this seclusion for millenia upon millenia, she wants out. It’s across the path of Johnny Storm that sends us in the tailspin of this story. By the end of it, the Inhumans have been slighted, and in their most passive aggressive way decide their fate. It’s a strong story through and through, and nails the very foreign lifestyle and look of the Inhumans, without feeling a need to know more about them than Millar feeds us.

As I’m not personally a huge fan of the Inhumans (getting them confused with the Eternals, and then having read Earth X which just blows your mind), I was hesitant to enjoy this story, but I did. Millar has made the Ultimate Fantastic Four seem familiar and comfortable, so to add such a foreign element as the Inhumans, you would expect it to be jarring, but it’s not. It’s not a strong story, but it’s enough for an annual. Any problem with the book is picked up by…

ART!

HOLY JAE LEE BATMAN!

Jae Lee has been one of those artists that has had his fans, and you could see the greatness that was bubbling to the surface. It might be that we look back in ten years, discussing his prolific career and we use this very book as the watermark of his success.

Did you get it? This book is pretty. Using that very inky and dark style, he gives a look into a mysterious race. Every panel feels that it is just as important as the last, and anytime he makes a panel larger it is because it has a distinct reason to be larger. Let’s not forget to mention that the colorist, June Chung’s use of subtle colors and muted tones makes it all seem that much creepier.

This book would not have been as good if it was in the hands of a brighter cleaner artist. In the hands of Jae Lee, this book was excellent.

A minor note: I was a bit taken aback by the choice of lettering. It’s not to say it’s something I notice that often, because it isn’t. The font choice just seemed a little too cartoony for such a dramatic looking book.

OVERALL

I walked expecting the weakest of the Annuals because of both my thoughts on the Inhumans, and my lingering problems with the UFF as a strong title. I walked away wanting to go and look through the art again, and not minding the simplistic nature of the story. From what it says in the letter’s page, this isn’t the last time we’ll meet the Inhumans, but when we do, I hope it’s Jae Lee’s Inhumans.