REVIEW: Fantastic Four: Season One

Fantastic Four: Season One

Written by Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa
Art by David Marquez
Colors by Guru-eFX
Cover by Julian Totino

136 pages / Color / Hardcover / $24.99

Published by Marvel Comics

It is made very clear within the first few pages that this book, this book is not for you. By you, I am assuming that you are an average comic fan who picks up single issues regularly from either a local comic retailer or from a digital storefront. You have a list of creators that you are a fan of and ones you would not touch with a ten foot pool. You can name your top ten favorite Spider-Man stories and can debate which artist was the best at drawing Batman. I am assuming that you have read many, many comics and will continue to do so. If this describes you at all then Fantastic Four: Season One is not for you.

Who is it for? The guy who missed the first Fantastic Four movie in the theater and happened to catch the last half of it the other night on FX while he had insomnia. He thought it was pretty good. A couple weeks later he is running through the Union Square Barnes and Noble to use their bathroom as New York City has no public bathrooms. As he is making his way out his eye catches this little hardcover. It reminds him of the movie that he half watched and enjoyed. He purchases it and reads it on the subway home.

This book is for that guy.

This is a very basic Fantastic Four origin story. It is one we have all read many times before. There are a few tweaks here and there but nothing new is added to the mythos of the team. If you had told me that this was the wikipedia Fantastic Four page just in illustrated form, I would believe it. The four go on their first space mission, they change into heroes, have a battle against their first villain, the Mole Man and Homeless Namor shows up in the last act to wreck some havoc.

The only new element that Aguirre-Sacasa has added to the mythos is the character of Alyssa Moy, Reed’s colleague. Groundwork is layed for a what could be a love triangle between him, Sue, Alyssa and later, Namor. Love Rectangle, I mean. The story also takes place in the present. Several pop culture references are peppered through out, Mad Men, J.J. Abrams, and Proust being just a few.

The art is adequate. The Thing or any other monsters look quite nice drawn by Marquez. His drawing of normal people is a little on the boring side and there is something really off putting at the way he draws Reed’s stretchy-ness.

The biggest disappointment is that the Fantastic Four, with the exception of Ben Grimm, are the least interesting characters in the book. Alyssa, Mole Man, and Namor have much more depth and character then the other Four. Reed is supposed to be the leader of this team but we never are really shown why. Sue seems like she is the hardest character to write and Johnny is just a little too on the annoying side. We are told that these characters are “a family” and that they have a long history together, Ben and Reed were best friends in college. Reed was Sue’s professor at one point, but it still seems forced. Why did Reed choose those three to go up into space with him anyway? We never get a good answer.

Fantastic Four is a hard sell, especially in the present. They always seem to work best taking place in the past, the Lee/Kirby stuff, or taking place what seems like two years in the future like the Hickman comics. The idea of them being Imaginauts exploring the unknown with their powers doesn’t come across either. Again, that does not seem to be the book’s purpose. In fact the book ends with an add for the current Fantastic Four series and a back up of Fantastic Four #570 by Hickman and Englesham. I think that issue alone provides the elements that this hardcover passes over.

What this book does do, however, is give a basic story of how the Four got started. It does that fine. Fans of the movie will enjoy this. There is even a plot point in here and that is very similar to one that also happens in the film. Doctor Doom has only a cameo. They are probably saving that villain for the season two round of hardcovers.

This is going to be a good book for people that are mildly curious about the Fantastic Four. It would be perfect for kids but there is some mild language throughout. This hardcover will probably sell nicely around the holidays. I do not see comic book fans embracing it at all. In fact I am sure to see this spurned by many online. Again, this isn’t for you. It is for that guy reading on the subway and I think he might really enjoyed it. I hope he kept reading through the back up and enjoyed the Hickman/Englesham stuff even more so. I hope he goes to comic shop and buys a bunch of comics and the industry is saved. That would be nice.

Story: 3 / Art: 2 / Overall: 3

(Out of 5 stars)


  1. The season one stuff for characters like FF and Hulk dont really work, we’ve all read/seen those a million times. I’m looking forward to less told ones like Antman and Dr. Strange.

  2. Is Proust really a pop culture reference?

    It’s not important. Thanks for this review! I nearly pre-ordered all of the Season One books, sight unseen, not realizing the extent to which they’re “not for me”. Sounds like I might have been bumming had I done so.

    I’m still interested in the X-Men book for that McKelvie art, so I hope this one isn’t indicative of the story quality for the whole line.

  3. Glad you posted this review, I was on the fence about buying these but now I will definetly hold off…I’ll probably just end up getting the Spider-man one because I buy just about everything with Spider-man in it.

  4. My local library is always good for getting in graphic novels, especially ones that could work for anyone. I am going to suggest they pick these up and likely read it there. If any are outstanding, I’ll pick them up through my local shop or Amazon.

  5. The real question (or maybe just the inevitable questions) is will it appeal to the same sort of audience as Superman:Earth One?

    When I heard about the “Season One” I immediately thought that was the market they wanted to go after. This doesn’t sound like they are though….

  6. I don’t understand how that guy sees the book and realises that’s the one for him as he walks past. It would just look like all the other Fantastic Four books he’s seen and ignored.

    “Oh Season One, that’s totally meant to be for me!!” (?)

    I just don’t understand the marketing here, unless these are going to be stocked in supermarkets or whatever you damn colonials call them.

  7. “The biggest disappointment is that the Fantastic Four, with the exception of Ben Grimm, are the least interesting characters in the book. Alyssa, Mole Man, and Namor have much more depth and character then the other Four.”

    To be fair, if you go back and read the original FF #1, Mole Man is by far the most interesting part of the book then, too.

  8. I do like that a bit of a bridge is built at the end of this to where the current era of Fantastic Four starts. I once literally was the non-comic reader who hurried into the Union Square Barnes and Noble to use their bathroom, and was curious about their nearby graphic novel section. I didn’t exactly know where to start and kinda detested the idea of doing research at that point in the game, so I’d get whatever looked familiar and whatever would have bridged me into the bigger world of that respective story.

  9. The art in the preview for this was kind of off putting to me but I’ll probably get the X-Men one.

  10. “That guy” could probably buy the DVD or maybe even the Blu Ray of the FF movie for less than the hard back. Why not just say the book is for a general audience?

  11. I was thinking about buying these for the library of the elementary school I work at. Thoughts?

  12. Sounds like these Season One books are just gonna be an extended version of the concept for those “Avengers Origins” comics that were recently put out.

  13. Well written article Timmy. After reading this would it be safe to assume that the creators attempted to create an origin story but then slipped into a “you know who these guys are” mindset? I infer that because you mention that the characters are uninteresting and aren’t really explained thoroughly. This book seems, to me, to be for someone familiar with the characters but not their origin. Who that person is I’m not sure. Maybe Mrs. Calabash, where ever she is.

  14. Well there goes all that love for David Marquez. (It’s a joke!)

    I had a feeling this was going to be a waste of time….but again the Marquez spotlight last week did pique my interest slightly. But seriously, do we really need another origin of a team that’s as old as the company itself?

  15. I am under the impression the the art was toned town on purpose. Like some sort of weird editorial choice thinking that the general public need generic, harmless art.

  16. Makes sense for this to have that appeal to bring in readers who are overwhelmed by and have stayed away from comix cause of continuity, despite its occasional universe altering, but the stories did carry a ton of rich history in weight so cheers to attracting new readers if these work. I personally was expecting something more like DC’s Earth One stuff that, even though there’s only been one, I really liked it. Like other readers on this post, I too hope and already was thinking the more obscure characters would be more interesting as they’re origins haven’t been recycled over and over. Hope they’re all good truthfully and would still like to read the X-Men origin in any retelling.

  17. 2/5 for art is really harsh. I flipped through it at the LCS, and they didn’t give him anything interesting to draw other than pages of talking heads. That and the high price tag convinced me to put it back on the shelf.

  18. 2 for art is a stretch. It’s clean and uncluttered for a reason, as the average casual reader would be scared away by anything else.

    I thought it was alright overall. The dialogue could have been much better and the references got annoying fast, but it’s an inoffensive origin story perfectly suited for children featuring Namor, Mole Man and monsters (to answer your question, Kamilo).

    If you want an adult and more refined take on the FF and the other major players in this book, read Grant Morrision’s 1234, which is what this book reminded me most of.