Writer: Dan Slott, Artist: Sean Izaakse, Colorist: Marcio Menyz, Cover : Esad Ribic
We are one year in on the long-overdue return of Marvel’s First Family, directed by Dan Slott. We’ve seen Doctor Doom try to steal Galactus’ power (again), a War of the Realms, and even a wedding, between Ben and Alicia. The new series started off with the exciting prospect of having one of my favorite artists, Sara Pichelli redesign the look of the Fantastic Four’s uniforms and make some visual tweaks to the Human Torch and Thing’s appearance. While I wasn’t completely satisfied with her Thing redesign, I was willing to bow to her artistic license.
However, while I have been mostly pleased with the consistency of Slott’s writing and plots so far, I definitely wasn’t pleased that Pichelli’s stint didn’t even last three full issues; she didn’t even stick around long enough to illustrate the wedding, and I was definitely not happy with the cartoony-ness of some of the succeeding artists. I feel the Fantastic Four needs to feel and look more grounded, and that happens with artists that are more illustrative and realistic, rather than cartoony. But that’s just my opinion, I am all for whatever art style connects with the public and helps keep the FF in print.
Normally, I am a big fan of cover artist Esad Ribic, but the cover for issue #12 doesn’t even look like his usual smooth, detailed painting. This cover featuring the first battle between the Thing and the Immortal Hulk is grainy, rough, and the Thing is very unusual looking. Granted, he is being belted in the mouth by the Hulk, hard enough to make orange rocks fly, but the facial features are bizarre, and his hands are way too small.
However, I am an instant fan of the new interior artist, Sean Izaakse, from his very first page, which skillfully and solidly depicts a detailed scene (look for a nice homage to Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” in one of the holographic diagnostics) every FF fan is familiar with: Reed examining Ben in his lab. Reed is estimating how soon Ben will annually revert to his human self. A perfect time, ahem, for Ben and Alicia to take their, ahem, honeymoon. Ben’s response to Johnny’s send-off of “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do”…is the perfect “burn” on the Human Torch.
Of course, no wedding or honeymoon for an FF member goes smoothly. What were the odds that a certain Jade Giant would stride out of the ocean directly in front of Ben and Alicia’s paradise villa and challenge Ben to fight? If you are thinking “Pretty damn astronomical!” then you are absolutely right. It’s no accident, but rather than draw out the suspense, Slott decides right away to spill the beans to the reader about why it isn’t. No spoilers here. Just to say that the Orange vs Green slugfest is well-choreographed and satisfying, and ends on a cliffhanger: will Orange Ben Grimm find a way to end this fight before he changes back into Pink Ben Grimm?
Fantastic Four #12 is published by Marvel Comics, and is on sale July 31, 2019.