Doctor Doom is now the devourer of worlds and the Fantastic Four are more like the Fantastic False. Mr. Fantastic is weak and emotional, Invisible Woman is an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Human Torch is powering the sun, and Thing is long dead.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
A mad final gambit against the death of a universe! Ben and Johnny join forces with familiar friends, but will DOOM ruin everything? THE FATE OF THE FOUR will be determined here!
Why does this matter?
Chip Zdarsky has been writing lights-out FF characters, and his rendition of Doctor Doom ain’t bad either. This series reads much like some of the best Fantastic Four stories complete with plenty of adventure and wonderment. The story has wowed with big sci-fi ideas and has mixed things up with surprises (like Silver Surfer and Emma Frost being in a relationship). This issue wraps up the first inter-dimensional jump for Thing and Human Torch with one massive climactic battle.
Read our coverage of this series here to see how much we loved it.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I knew Thing was a big deal, but I didn’t know he was this big. Zdarsky pushes the character to the max levels of his powers so as to put him into a fist fight with a Galactus-sized Doctor Doom. Let that sink in for a moment. Yes it sounds ridiculous, but it’s crazy fun and Zdarsky doesn’t hold back with the one-liners. When you see an Earth-sized Thing scream “Go big or go home.” you know you’re reading an all-out fun comic. The story wraps up well too, with a big cosmic ending you won’t see coming. There’s also a touching epilogue for the Silver Surfer and others to reflect on the horrible truth of what would happen to Galactus if turned into a human being.
As the story progresses the emotional character drama resides in our universe’s Doctor Doom who is having a hard time teaming up to defeat himself. I can only imagine the conflict, but then again this iteration of Doom is threatening to eat the last bits of this dimension’s universe. Add this to the internal conflicts of the characters, like Mr. Fantastic getting his mojo back, and there’s a wild ride to be had here.
Jim Cheung draws this issue and it is spectacular. The colors by Frank Martin (appreciate the heavy use of purple, my man!) are great and liven up the cosmic side of things. It’s always amazing to see how artists can make masked characters emote and it’s done particularly well with Doctor Doom’s Iron Man mask here. Using the right angle and just enough of the mask can make the character reflect and react in a way that’s instantly understandable. It’s amazing Cheung can pull this off.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I felt like I was playing catch up for short bits of the narrative and I wondered if I had missed the last issue. I know I didn’t, but Zdarsky doesn’t reintroduce much, relying on the recap page to get readers up to speed. Late in the issue, we learn about Galactus and it took me a second to realize who they were talking about. The comic runs at a fast clip, which is great, but it also makes for a comic that requires you to fill in some blanks (like how Emma and Silver Surfer ended up where they are in the story). It’s not a huge detriment, but it’s something that irked me.
Is it good?
This is a great climactic issue in the story arc, with big action and even bigger cosmic ideas. Zdarsky continues to prove his handle of these characters is excellent and, with all due respect to Dan Slott, it actually bothers me he’s not taking on the main Fantastic Four series.