Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fantastic Four #583

This title (to a degree) and its author, Jonathan Hickman (to a greater degree) have come under some fire recently, as a recently-revealed comment by a prominent writer indicated that he didn't think much of Hickman's work.

In some ways, it's a fair criticism - Hickman's comics do not follow the typical style set for most mainstream comics.

Comic books are usually straightforward with clear storytelling and easy for new readers to pick up and follow, since (as Jim Shooter said - I think) every issue is someone's first issue.

But Hickman's writing for the Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Secret Warriors is anything but clear. The stories are involved, convoluted and often confusing. I can't imagine a new reader picking up any of those comics and being able to follow along.

However, for the reader who's willing to follow along, pay attention and dig a bit deeper, the stories are very rewarding. I'm enjoying this title in particular as we see the seeds of past stories start to grow and bear fruit.

For example, the stories of the four cities is starting to spill over into the Marvel universe, as war breaks out between the powerful residents of two cities. At the same time, we see Valeria, the intelligent daughter of Reed and Sue Richards, following a secret plan of her own - one that involves an incredible amount of danger.

This issue is the first for new series artist Steve Epting with Paul Mounts providing the colors, and a terrific team they are. The art reminds me of Gene Colan at the height of his powers, with fluid character flourishes and lots of powerful scenes with cosmic confrontations. Great stuff!

This issue is actually a good jumping-on spot, because it kicks off a new storyline that promises the death of one of the members of the team. Ordinarily that would produce a yawn, but Hickman has proven himself to be good at creating surprising plot twists, so we'll hang on for the ride.

This comic certainly isn't for everyone, but frankly, if you're not picking up this comic - you're missing out.

Grade: A-