Review: FF #6 By Jonathan Hickman

FF #6
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Greg Tocchini & Paul Mounts

As I finish this issue a third time, I’m still struggling to come away with a better reaction. So here goes honesty:

“Really?”

It seems like only yesterday I was reeling at the happenings in Mark Waid’s F4 run, or marveling at the insane directions Mark Millar took the F4 as only he can. Maybe it’s a little unfair, to compare Fantastic Four to Future Foundation. They’re not the same. Johnny Storm is dead, in his place is currently Spider-Man. It’s the Future Foundation, where Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, and The Thing battle things like The Last Four Reeds of the Interdimensional Council.

These Reeds intent to bring about the War of the Four Cities. Except that in Attilan, Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans, has resumed his throne (he died during War of Kings). It sure sounds cool. Future Foundation, Fantastic Four, this is the kind of sci-fi comic shenanigans that you’d expect.

Except it isn’t.

Is Marvel to blame? Am I so conditioned to six issue, trade perfect arcs that a sixth issue with no resolution throws me off? Is Hickman at fault, throwing back to the interstellar event War of Kings for some story? Or perhaps it’s the fact that even though the first page gives us a recap of the story, and that same page gives us quick hits on who the Future Foundation is, and an additional twelve other cast members (like Valeria Richards, Franklin Richards, Nathaniel Richards, Doctor Doom, Leech, Dragon Man), and then the issue doesn’t even deliver any of them? I haven’t decided yet. Help me decide.

Val releases the Last Four Reeds of the Interdimensional Whatever, they want to start a war so they can go home, and Black Bolt is back. Naturally, this issue devotes itself to explaining why Black Bolt is back. By doing so, we flashback to War of Kings. See Bolt and Vulcan. See them die. It is sad. Somewhere, a horse woman cries.

Three weeks ago, at Hala, the seat of the Kree Empire, we follow Lockjaw, Black Bolt’s dog. First he wanders through Medusa’s routine queenly appointments, then through some other famous Inhuman faces. And then to Ronan the Accuser. Who himself is accused of having a “seed”.

Hala, hundreds of thousands of years ago. The Supreme Intelligence is gifted with data about a Kree weapons program. He’s pretty thrilled except for when he accesses his cosmic awareness and discovers that, like all dictators, he’s destined to create the one who will oppose him. So he tries to blanket the whole project and kills everyone involved, wiping out whole worlds. Except.

He explicitly stopped reading the data before it was at 100%. He missed one. Poor guy. Who did he miss? Who did the universe conspire to make into something more? You can figure it out.

It’s really a pretty neat story. All six issues so far have been interesting…with a caveat.

Future Foundation of shades of brilliance, but sometimes goes too big, reaches too far. Hickman has problems keeping his story accessible.

War of Kings? Inhuman lore? Kree lore? In a way, Future Foundation is not a replacement for the Fantastic Four, it’s just a new concept, a new take on the Marvel Universe, with a familiar supporting cast to help direct the larger focus. This wasn’t really apparent until four issues in. For fans of the Marvel Universe, this book is fantastic. But for fans of the Fantastic Four…I’m a big fan of change and new ideas and concepts. I support Hickman’s goals and the Future Foundation. I’m just not sure it was worth offing Johnny Storm for. I feel like the material Future Foundation has covered and looks to be covering in the future could have worked without that final F4 sendoff. Maybe Thing and Spidey also being Avengers dilutes what was left of the F4, that family feeling.

If you’re down with all of this, though, and can keep pace, Hickman’s story is indeed a fun one. This is one of the better books put out by Marvel if you can set the F4 aside and just roll with it. Like I said, it took me four months to do so. Hickman’s scripting is spot on, and his characters have their own unique voices while still respecting the larger collaborative history of the publisher.

The art is also superb. Greg Tocchini is a perfect fit for this book, with just the right amount of technical expertise and detail, and yet it manages to co-exist alongside a super hero filter that just makes the book feel like the Jack Kirby sci-fi and spandex tone that established the F4. Paul Mounts on colors just completes the package, turning the linework into renderings that rival anything seen on the big screen these days. Sometimes better.

So six issues in, at least Hickman and the FF let us know where it stands. It should be easier going now that we can settle in and know what to expect. But I still miss Marvel’s first family, and hope Hickman will play with what we saw in F4 and Marvel Knights 4, if only for the odd issue.

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