Three things I loved in Fantastic Four #1 (with spoilers!)
Fantastic Four #1 is here, and it’s, well, fantastic. The First Family is back, and it feels good. And while I already wrote about the whole thing yesterday, I can’t stop talking about it. So now, I’m going to look a little closer at a few things that really dazzled me. There will be spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t read your copy yet, bookmark this and come back after you’ve caught up!
Ben and Alicia are engaged
On the opening page, Sue says being part of a family is the greatest adventure of all; and while Ben Grimm has been a part of that family for some time, there’s something special about building your own, the same way Reed and Sue have. Anyone who knows the FF knows that there’s really only one love of Ben’s life, and that’s Alicia Master, daughter of one of the earliest FF villains, Puppet Master. We got a taste of Ben’s potential wedded/familial bliss back in the limited series The End, but that’s a hypothetical future, they’re living on Mars, and while it’s all nice, there’s something different about seeing this actually start—seeing Ben propose.
Ben and Alicia have been on-again, off-again over the years, and I’m sure Ben’s self-consciousness will always be a source of conflict, but seeing them take the next step in their relationship warms my heart. The conflicts will continue to be good storytelling.
I also love how Dan Slott builds the moment. When Ben realizes that he’s going to propose, he says “it’s time to go on my biggest adventure ever,” calling back to Sue’s words from the first page. The First Family is back yes, but the start of Ben’s own family is here, too. And just as the marriage of Reed and Sue, and the birth and lives of their two children have enriched the FF, so, too can this new dimension for Ben Grimm. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead—as long as Slott isn’t planning on killing Alicia...
Ben and Johnny are on each other’s nerves
It’s as old as the FF: Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm know how to push each other’s buttons. Johnny, historically, instigated a lot of these conflicts by rubbing Ben’s nose in his plight as The Thing, but Ben has had plenty of moments where he dished it out quite well, too. The two aren’t pranking or picking on each other here, but they do nearly come to blows.
But what I absolutely love is that it’s a conflict that reflects how far they’ve come as characters, and it’s about something that matters. Johnny will always be at least a bit immature, but he’s proven over the years that he’s more than just that. Here, he’s holding onto hope—possibly denial—about Reed, Sue, and the kids returning. So when Ben and Alicia tell him of the engagement and ask him to be best man, it’s just too much. Reed is Ben’s best friend, and in Johnny’s mind, asking anyone but Reed to be best man is a declaration that his family is lost permanently. It’s too much for him to take.
Ben balls his fists in anger at the ruining of the moment, and if not for Alicia stepping in, he would probably try to let Johnny have it. It’s the classic FF trope of Johnny pushing the right buttons and Ben reacting in anger, but applied creatively, in a way that doesn’t undermine the emotional current of the issue.
I’ve already said elsewhere that I think Slott made the right call delaying the reunion by one issue. In short, we needed to feel the void left by Reed, Sue and the kids one more time before they came back. But it would also be odd to have the World’s Greatest Comic Magazine return without some sort of exotic adventuring. So Slott gives us an “untold tale”, and though it’s short, it’s such great fun. Visually, Pichelli plays with a lot more ink on these pages, we get to see the team in-costume, and the design for the alien guide accompanying the team is excellent. Sprinkle in a little sibling rivalry between Johnny and Sue and the former singing their way home, and you’ve got a great sequence. It’s other-worldly, it’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s heart-warming. What more could you ask for?
That’s all for now. Be sure to tune in to the Comics Now Podcast next week to here us talk about Fantastic Four #1 in even greater detail. In the meantime, let us know what your favorite moments were!