Fantastic Four #1
(W) Ryan North (A) Iban Coello
First up, a confession. I have never found a Fantastic Four run that has engaged me enough to see all the way through. It’s not that Marvel’s first family haven’t had loads of great talent involved over the years – heck, the likes of Jonathan Hickman, Matt Fraction and Dan Slott have all taken the reins at one point or another. But I just haven’t found that run just yet.
But if the rest of this series lives up to the quality of this first issue, then they may have their hooks in me at long last. For me, this is up there with the best single issues of the year.
Ryan North has gone on the record, that after Slott’s large cosmic, universe spanning run, he was interested in starting small, with self contained stories for each of the heroes. And Fantastic Four #1 kicks off with an absolutely doozy, as we follow The Thing and his wife Alicia.
The story is straightforward enough. The Thing and Alicia are on a trip and they end up pulling up at a motel for the night. Some of the locals don’t take kindly to Ben Grimm’s appearance, and they attempt to harm him by driving a truck into their room as they sleep. But alas, the truck disappears into thin air. And despite all the noise and commotion, no one has any recollection of what happened the night before.
They take a walk around the town, only to find out they’ve somehow ended up in the middle of small town America in the 1940’s. Not only that, but they are stuck relieving the same day over and over! So a mystery begins as they try to figure out why this is happening and how they can escape it.
Knowing the Fantastic Four was starting fresh from #1, I would never have guessed that the titles biggest influence would be Groundhog Day. But that’s exactly what we have here. We have Ben getting to know the townspeople, and even the ones who feared him in the beginning, become his best friends. Alicia shows how charming and thoughtful she can be. And you’re reminded over and over just how much heart these characters bring to the Marvel Universe.
The art is vibrant and clean the whole way through it, with detailed expressions and plenty of humour to be found in the imagery. There’s also repeating imagery with subtle differences as we’re stuck in this time loop with the characters. I actually read this issue out loud to my son, who hung on my every word (Probably nothing to do with the quality of the story admittedly…), and I wondered at the start if the first few pages were mistakenly reprinted over and over!
The reason why this timeloop has been created and where the story goes is so endearing and genuinely affecting by the end. To go into too much detail would spoil it somewhat, but some of the last few pages had me welling up a little.
And then we get a few pages added to the end which while separate from the Ben and Alicia story, go somewhat towards letting us know what the conflict is going to be for the series moving forward. Absolutely incredible first issue and count me all in on this run on Marvel’s first family.