Writer: Dan Slott, Art: Paco Medina, Colours: Jesus Aburtov, Letters: Joe Caramanga
At the National Air and Space Museum they have the craft from some of the most famous and successful flights in history, from the Wright Brothers' first powered flight, to the X-1 that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in, to the Apollo 11 command module. Today is a little different however, as the museum celebrates one of the world's most famous and successful crashes with the induction of Marvel-1, the world's first faster-than-light-rocket, and the ship that ushered in a new age of heroes when its occupants were hit by the cosmic rays that would give the world the Fantastic Four!
As Reed Richards soaks up the adoration of the crowd, and admires the perfect lines and sleek ergonomic design of one of his first but also most fated inventions (much to the apathy of his children Valeria and Franklin, who view the rocket with about as much interest and appreciation as the digital generation view an 8-track cassette), he is hit by something very different, however... nostalgia.
Everyone knows the story of the Fantastic Four and how their rocket crashed shortly after takeoff when it was bombarded by the same cosmic radiation that granted Marvel's First Family their amazing powers, but a story that has never been told is that of their intended destination. Where were they going? And what would they have found if they had ever gotten there? Reed is determined to find out!
Although he stays awake into the early hours crunching the numbers of this new itch that he inevitably has to scratch, Reed isn't the only member of the team enduring sleepless nights. Elsewhere, Johnny also stirs with sentimentality as he reminisces of the past.
It's a past that as of this issue is subjected to a significant but expertly constructed piece of continuity adjustment, in a retcon that clarifies that Johnny wasn't part of the initial crew out of simple nepotism, or because he was tied to Sue's apron strings, but because he'd earned it. Now, he's on board once again and working alongside Reed in order to lovingly, faithfully, and painstakingly recreate their original space craft— so that they can finally complete their original mission — and they're doing it the old fashioned way, using only the tools and methods they had available prior to them receiving their powers much as a master craftsman might restore a wooden ship of old. As usual, Sue recognises when Reed has got the urge to set off on another adventure. It's his best look, she'll never get tired of it, and she will support him and her brother all the way.
Ben, however, as the person who paid by far the greatest price as a result of the accident that granted them their powers — and nearly killed them in the process — needs a little more persuasion in the form of a subtle reminder of how the tragedies of the past are what ultimately led to him having a beautiful future to look forward to. That and a gentle knock to his ego when he sees who Reed plans to replace him with!
Fantastic Four #14 is an excellent first issue to a brand new story arc that provides a ready jumping-on point for new fans as much as it does a nostalgic trip down memory lane for older ones, and takes the team into the kind of territory in which they are at their most comfortable and exciting: the unknown.
It's a genuinely touching issue full of sentimental moments with a heavy focus on the relationships between the various characters and their individual motivations, as writer Dan Slott, ably assisted by Paco Medina's crisp, clean art, expertly reminds us that it is their nature as a family and as explorers, rather than heroes, that makes the Fantastic Four unique when compared to all of the other super teams out there.