Best Shots Extra: FF #4

Best Shots Extra: FF #4

 

FF #4


Written by Jonathan Hickman



Art by Barry Kitson and Paul Mounts



Lettering by Clayton Cowles



Published by Marvel Comics



Review by Colin Bell

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"The War of the Four Cities starts here," declared the publicity for FF #4. So to clarify, not in Fantastic Four #578 where the Universal Inhumans' Light Brigade infringed on the Negative Zone and the page declared much the same thing. Also, this implies the titular war wasn't going on during the Three storyline, despite reports of "when the War of Four Cities ends, one member of the Fantastic Four will have breathed their last!"

Marvel might not be able to agree exactly when this storyline began, but I'd wager that many in the House of Ideas would agree that Jonathan Hickman's time in charge of the First Family is shaping into one of the greatest long-form runs that the publisher has put out, and this issue keeps things ticking over nicely.

The fact that there is no clear-cut point where you can declare "THAT'S the start of the War of Four Cities" is actually an indicator of the strength of Hickman's run, a vast, sprawling ongoing story that has continued to pull together threads that once seemed disjointed and fashioned something brilliant from them. This issue continues to throw out plot like it’s going out of fashion, with Sue, Spider-Man and Alex Power heading off to deal with a threat to the Old Atlanteans, while Reed tries to contend with an assembled collective of regular Fantastic Four foes.

The scenes dealing with the “Council of Doom” make for the highlight of the issue, as Hickman manages to showcase each villain, sometimes only in one panel. It’s an efficient way to give those readers unfamiliar with the characters a good idea of their personality traits, as shown in displays of Diablo’s arrogance, the Mad Thinker’s particular brand of thought process, and the Wizard’s sheer malevolence. Hickman also uses this scene to further explain and underline the abrupt lurch to the dark side that the alternative Reed Richards took in the last issue.

Barry Kitson’s art through the issue is complemented well by Paul Mounts’ coloring, with light and shade adding depth that I wasn’t used to seeing in Kitson’s work. However, while I’ve always thought of Kitson's art as solid there were a couple of things that stuck out for me, little instances of inconsistencies in Sue’s facial features and hair from panel to panel for instance.  That said, the most jarring moment in the book came in a scene where Diablo pokes fun at Doctor Doom, and Doom closes his mouth. To read that sentence it doesn’t seem much, but as far as I understand Doom’s mask is one solid piece of metal, so it’s not possible for him to do so. Worse still, I’m guessing that the image of Doom not reacting to Diablo’s jibes is meant to be ominous, but the effect of him closing his mouth leaves him looking sad, if not in a petulant huff. It’s a strange moment, possibly an Internet meme waiting to happen (“sad Doom is sad”, anyone?) and one that took me out of the story as I tried to process it.

Art quibbles aside (and they are just quibbles — Kitson remains a solid storyteller) this was another solid installment of a great ongoing epic. Just someone tell that to Doom, he looks miserable about it. 

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