Marvel NOW! Review: FF #3 by Matt Fraction & Mike Allred

FF #3

Old John Storm

Written by: Matt Fraction
Pencilled by: Mike Allred
Colored by: Laura Allred
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 Comics on Comixology

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

Summary (contains spoilers): At the end of the last issue, Darla Deering had quit the team, and an older, beat up Johnny Storm returned to Earth saying that the rest of the Fantastic Four were dead. This issue starts with John Storm telling his story. While the Fantastic Four were doing their space field trip, Doctor Doom, Kang, and Annihilus conspired to eliminate them once and for all. They seemed to somehow combine themselves into Doom The Annihilating Conquror.

John managed to escape back to Earth and “close the door behind him,” but he’s certain that Doom will find his way through. This new FF needs to figure out some way to stop Doom once and for all. Since Ant-Man’s daughter was killed by Doom, Ant-Man is immediately on board  He decides that they need to get Darla back on the team as Ms Thing and also to determine if this is the real Human Torch.

The Future F0undation’s Moloids have brought Mole Man a “starheart” as tribute. They seem disgusted by the Mole Man, and know whatever his plan his that he will botch it somehow and need the FF’s help to rescue him.

Darla has resumed her music career, but often finds herself crying on stage because she was such a coward that she ran away from the fight with the Mole Man in the last issue. Scott tries to recruit her, leaving her a note that says:

She is still pretty upset when she gets a package from Thing’s old nemeses the Yancy Street Gang. Ant-Man grows to full size just in time to protect her from a “Whipped Cream bomb.” Three Yancy Street Gangers wearing Thing masks burst in to take pictures. Darla (in just a towel) and Ant-Man chase down the Yancy Street Gang before they can do anything with the pictures, which results in them running out into Time Square just as the ball drops for New Years Eve.

Ant-Man tells her something has happened to the Fantastic Four, and he needs her back on the team. She agrees…until he reveals that his plan is “We’re going to end Doom” which freaks her out.

Meanwhile, back at FF HQ, Wyatt Wingfoot and the Fantastic Four’s machines have verified Johnny’s identity. Medusa says this leads to three assumptions:

1) Something has gone wrong in time and space with the Fantastic Four

2) They are not coming back

3) Any hope we have in saving them lies with that man who frankly might be insane.

Ant-Man and Darla retur nto the team, and Ant-Man declares “Once and for all, I want us to eradicate the very thought of Doom from human existence.” A idea that John Storm seems to think is perfect.

Review: One thing I have really enjoyed about the two Fantastic Four books is how they basically started as the same book, and each issue they get further and further apart. After reading the first issues of Fantastic Four and FF, it sort of felt like I was just reading one bi-weekly series (with two different artists), but after the third issue of each, they have really started to differentiate themselves.

FF has been much more fun so far…which is kind of strange since this issue dealt with some tough issues like the death of the Fantastic Four, one man been inspired by grief to eradicate Doctor Doom once and for all, and the Moloids considering Mole Man to be pathetic. But at the same time, this was balanced so well by the terrific and hilarious scenes with Ant-Man and Miss Thing chasing the Yancy Street Gang.

I also loved the silent page with Wyatt and Johnny feeling each other out. Wyatt Wingfoot is just one of those obscure Marvel characters who pops up every now and then, and I especially came to like the character during John Bryne’s run on She-Hulk. I appreciated that Fraction took the time to acknowledge She-Hulk and Wyatt’s past relationship quickly and subtly.

One thing that is kind of rare in comics is for the comic to acknowledge what date it takes place on.  Comics just about always operate on a kind of shifting timeline by necessity  So I thought it was kind of strange that both Fantastic Four #3 and FF #3 took place in December 31, 2012 crossing over into January 1, 2013.  It was a cool parallel that these two books happened at the same exact time.

As always, the Allreds’ art is brilliant. I am always amazed by how cartoony their work looks, but still feels like such a perfect fit when telling a darker story. I have been getting into Madman quite a bit over the last few weeks, and it really stands out in that book too, with tremendous emotional depth and creative character designs.  I fawned over the Allreds quite a bit in my review of issue 1, and everything I said there applies here too.  I do think Mike Allred has a strange obsession with his character’s wearing full body costumes though. Future John Storm reminded me quite a bit of Madman or Orphan.

That shouldn’t be taken as a complaint, I think all three of those character designs are pretty cool.

HEY! Something just occurred to me. Typically, the Fantastic Four teams have been either all guys or three guys and one female…with Invisible Woman, She-Hulk,  Crystal, Lyja, or Medusa as the one female.  I am sure there are others I am forgetting. I think there might have been a short time where She-Hulk and Invisible Woman were on the team at the same time…and maybe She-Thing/Invisible Woman, and Lyja/Invisible Woman BUT, I am almost positive, this is the first time the FF team has had only one guy and three gals.  So far, Medusa and She-Hulk have been overshadowed a bit by how much attention Fraction gives to Darla and Ant-Man, but I suspect each character will have plenty to do as the series progresses.

While I did think Fantastic Four #3 was a little dull, this was a great comic. I am really curious how things will play out with Future Johnny, Doom, and the reluctant FF member in Darla. I also really want to know what was going on in that scene with Mole Man and the Moloids. FF might well be my favorite Marvel Now book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Final Score: 9.0 Not a lot of superhero action on this one, but some great characterization and some big time threats hanging over our heroes. This is definitely what a superhero comic should be!

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