Review: Fantastic Four #3 by Matt Fraction & Mark Bagley

Fantastic Four #3
First Boots on the Ground

Written by: Matt Fraction
Penciled by: Mark Bagley
Inked by: Mark Farmer
Colored by: Paul Mounts
Lettering by: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Published by: Marvel
Cover Price: $2.99

Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from Marvel on Comixology.

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

Summary (contains spoilers): This issue starts on January 1, 2013. The Fantastic Four’s ship is 38 light years from Earth. Ben Grimm is feeling a big down that this is how he’s spending his New Year’s.

Reed has discovered a world of unstable molecules called Zeta Doradus that he believes can help cure his molecular decay. Reed, Sue, Johnny, and the kids go down to the planet to explore, leaving Ben to pilot the ship.

The world starts to try and attack the landing party.

They return to the landing shuttle, and try to take off with Sue straining to keep the planet’s tendrils from destroying the shuttle.

Up in space, it’s revealed that the planet is really the “lore” for a gigantic monster space angler fish. Ben leaps from orbit to assist the shuttle’s escape, and the FF is able to fight their way back to the ship to get out of there.

Sue proposes a New Year’s resolution, “No more surprises” which Reed (THAT LIAR) agrees to.

Review: There are some comics that I am very surprised I didn’t enjoy much more, and this definitely was one of them. Maybe it is just because I was so hyped from the first two issues of Fantastic Four and FF, but I actually thought this issue was a little boring. There really was nothing at all wrong with the comic, I just felt kind of blah after I finished it.

Don’t get me wrong. The characters were great. I especially loved Ben’s sadness about being left behind and Reed’s obliviousness about how Ben felt about that. I also loved Johnny asking “Are we there yet?” and the kids new variation of rock, paper, scissors. My sister and I always used to try and cheat by adding different options to rock, paper, scissors. We never added Lizard or Spock though…curse you, Sheldon Cooper.

I also thought the setting was unique and cool. The Fantastic Four should be about exploration, and this issue was perfect for that. But it still felt like the entire action of this comic could have happened in just a page or two and devoting a whole comic to it just felt off to me.

It might have helped if the Fantastic Four had even had a chance to explore the planet before they were attacked by the planet.  Instead, it just felt like generic action sequences on a potentially cool planet, and I have come to expect a lot more than that from this comic.

Artwise, this book was great. The giant angler fish and the space shots really created a tremendous scale for this issue.

Also, the emotional image on this book hinged a lot on Bagley’s command of facial expressions. If you just read the dialouge of this book, everything seems fine with Ben, but Bagley’s expressions and the terrific lettering choices gave tons of hidden meanings and depth to these panels.

Honestly, this issue does everything fine, but it just felt a little “by the numbers.” I am so used to Fraction blowing my mind that even a good issue of Fantastic Four feels almost like a disappointment. I just never felt like there was any real danger or exploration in this book.  All in all, I felt like I got my 3 bucks worth, but not all that much else.

Final Score: 7.5: A good issue, but it didn’t feel like it ever reached it’s full potential. When I finished, I had to ask “That was it?” and that is never a good way to feel about a comic.

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