Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 03.23.2011 – FF #1

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.5
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 51.3%
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Steve Epting & Rick Magyar
Colors by Paul Mounts
Letters by Russ Wooton
Covers by Steve Epting, Daniel Acuna, Marko Djurdjevic, Gerald Parel, Stan Goldberg, Joe Sinnott & Val Staples

Size: pages
Price: 3.99

Then there were three. That is, there are three original members left on the Fantastic Four, or the FF, or whatever they are now. Also, I am now the third of my partners to pick a Jonathan Hickman Fantastic Four book, for the third issue in a row. Not bad Mr. Hickman and Mr. Epting. Not bad at all.

I hadn’t been reading Hickman’s Fantastic Four. I read a few of the issues in the beginning, but just sort of stopped, and didn’t think about it so much, and dropped away. It happens. There are a lot of titles. But my colleagues glowing reviews on issues #587 and #588 respectively made me a little curious; not so curious that I put it on my pull list, or was even aware of when FF #1 was coming out, but I knew that vaguely, somewhere in the future, there were new uniforms and Spider-Man. So it was a game time decision at the comic shop today to pick up the issue. What drew me in was the cover. It caught my eye. I bought the Stan Goldberg variant, and it was a fine looking cover indeed. Since both Ron and Conor were so into it, I’ll jump back on and give it a swing again. It’s a light week, right?

What I found were a whole lot of little things adding up to one great comic book issue. One of the most impressive things about the issue was that I haven’t been reading it, but I’m aware of what’s going on, in a general sense, but it was a wonderful jumping on issue. While I didn’t feel like everything was being spoonfed to me, I did feel like I was placed in a position where I was right up to speed. There are a whole bunch of people living with the FF now, for example, and there’s even a handy chart in the back to explain who they are. Everyone is still grieving over the loss of Johnny, and that is keenly felt. Oh, and Spider-Man is having the most awkward first day of work ever. But it all works together really well, and creates a very full world, but one that I was instantly able to grasp, appreciate, and even enjoy. If you’ve ever thought about trying out the Fantastic Four, but weren’t sure where to start, FF #1 will suit you just perfectly.

As I said, there is a pervading sense of loss from the Human Torch’s absence. Reed and Sue have the benefit of a lot of help to take care of their genius kids and all their friends who now live with them. Ben is moping in his room when he doesn’t have something to punch, and there’s even a touch of added tension from Reed’s recently returned father. It is exactly what the book is supposed to be: a family. It’s a family that’s going through some stuff, sure, but a family nonetheless. Further, it makes me want to know what’s going to happen next, just like a good first issue should. There is the potential for a lot of great fun and drama laid out here.

Like we said when Steve Epting was producing legendary issues of Captain America, Steve Epting is very good. As good as he was for the Cap stuff, he’s just a perfect for this story. His character acting is top notch, and we know he’s got a knack for AIM agents unlike anyone else in comics.The weight and grief on the FF family is all right there on the page. Epting makes orange rock emote with incredible skill. We have to wait for, and earn every smile that warily creeps across the lips of these characters. The art fills in the silences in dialog caused by the relative unease pervading the story, as they cope with the massive loss they’re feeling. Meanwhile, the action and energy in the lone action scene in the middle of the book is vintage Marvel adventure and fisticuffs, and it’s handled just as ably. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about the work that Epting and his artistic collaborators produced for this issue. It’s simply how this kind of comic is done when it’s done very correctly.

FF #1 was a surprise for me. I had no doubt that it would be good, but for some reason, I also assumed it was just not my thing. Yet, as I read the issue, there was a whole lot there. I even felt a little trembling emotion rise up as Franklin told Spider-Man not to sit in Johnny’s seat. By the time I got to the last page, I wanted to keep reading, even though I know I’d read a very full issue. That’s when you know they’ve been doing something right. Three Pick of the Week honors in a row, from all three of us at iFanboy is probably a pretty indication that there are some fairly special comics going on, and that if you’re skipping them, you’re very likely missing out.


Josh Flanagan
Why does Ben need to wear boots, and how fast do they wear out?



    ‘Tis also my pick for the week. It’s really a great comic. Nice pick! 

  2. Hickman has 1/3 of the 2011 POW books. Wow. That’s impressive.

  3. Is that Reed’s daughter on the cover or is it Sue?

  4. Stop.

  5. Hot dog!

  6. The fix is in for Mr. Hickman. This is at the top of my stack, can’t wait to read it. 

  7. Like Josh I did not think this was my thing but picked it up because I am a huge Spiderman fan. I’m sticking with it for this opening arc but haven’t decided to fully commit to the book yet.

  8. Why does Ben need to wear boots, and how fast do they wear out?

    I was wondering the same thing! Sue must be a fashionista.

  9. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    On board. 

  10. i’m bored. Hickman can win PotW later when he moves major pieces but for this week, other books like GL & USM deserve the spot

  11. I enjoyed this issue, but my pick has to go to the Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine.  That book was soooo much fun, and really funny as well. 

  12. “Why does Ben need to wear boots, and how fast do they wear out?”

    I think the question should be, why doesn’t he have gloves? Since his skin is rock-like, I could see him scratching anything/most-things he tries to touch. 

    So the boots aren’t to protect him, they’re to protect everything else, and thus some gloves might be nice too.

    Unstable molecules don’t wear out — at least that’s what I think here.

  13. (I haven’t read the issue yet, in case the boot question is important to the story. I’m picking up my copy in a bit.)

  14. I read this first when I got home and was just absolutely pleased with it.  I’ve never read Fantastic Four, but I’m surely sticking around for this and plan on getting Hickman’s previous run in trades.  Having said that, I read Batman Incorporated #4 right after this, and that, so far is my POW.  Of course, that could change, given that I have about 14 other comics to read, but it was just so damn fun and awesome.

  15. Also boots are cool!  And they’re one of the requirements to enter most establishments. (Of course, he’s missing a shirt, so still no service; but he’s getting there.)

  16. @powerdad  He wears them because he wants to. Superman doesn’t need a suit he could just fly around naked.

  17. Is there an explanation about why the fantastic peeps know Spider-Man is Peter Parker?

  18. @lifesend~ I agree!  Batman Incorporated was fantastic this week!  I still had more fun with ASM&W, but it was definitely in the running.

    @sansimian~ I believe he revealed his identity during the FF storyline in Brand New Day.  I know it happened a while ago, but I’m having a hard time placing the exactness of it.  It makes sense though.  Johnny was one of Peter’s closest friends, and Spider-Man has long, deep ties to the FF. 

  19. @Neb: Bah…the whole macroverse thing. All I could remember was that Susan had made his head invisible and everyone was giving him crap about his identity. Perhaps I suffered a “psychic blindspot.”

  20. It’s so weird that when I really liked Hickman’s FF–about a year ago–it wasn’t getting much praise. But now it is, and I feel like the last six months has just been really lackluster, by-the-numbers and gimmicky. It just has no emtional core for me. Every attempt at pathos seems hollow to me in this book. All of the neat world-building complexity seems hollow as well. I like Hickman a lot, but at a certain point he seems like an “idiot savant” filling notebooks full of specific mathematical dimensions of imaginary worlds that don’t exist. And he can add in two plucky Richards children saying precocious things, but that doesn’t count as interesting in my book.

    I love SHIELD, though.

  21. I read another review that made a really good point about Epting’s art. The guy stated that Epting’s art worked for the gloom and doom of the last story arc, but now that this series focuses on the FF really being adventurers maybe the future of this book would be better served with a different artistic style that isn’t as “serious” or noirish looking.

    But still, this was a great book during a particularly strong week, i had to give my PotW to Invincible though.

  22. I think this was a great issue, and I don’t disagree with making it the pick. (Hell it was my POTW too)

    But to be honest I really don’t think this is up there with the previous two issues of Fantastic Four. I’m not criticizing making this the pick, I hope I don’t make this post turn that out to be josh. But Hickman and Epting pretty much wrote the two best, consecutive issues of any comic in a very long time. While this was another great issue by the two, I think the reading was kinda light and the reveals were either already spoiled or you could see them coming a mile away. Heck the plotline of the Wizard escaping only makes sense if you read the first issue of Hickman’s Four run….So it really isn’t much of a new series per say.

    Again sorry if I sound a bit too negative on this….I still liked it a lot and again made it my pick. 

  23. @ResurrectionFlan  Actually, your naked comment reminded me of a great old iFanboy article by Sonia Harris, “Top Ten Most Naked Superhero Costumes” (see http://www.ifanboy.com/content/articles/Top_Ten_Most_Naked_Superhero_Costumes),  and in fact Ben is listed in the top ten. So perhaps less would be more for some of these supers.

    Oh, and I got the issue, and noticed Ben has a tank top on, so I think that counts as a shirt, and thus now he can get service! (Sorry, probably shouldn’t have mentioned this “tank top” spoiler. I’ve probably ruined it for someone out there who was waiting to find out first hand if Ben was still shirtless or not. Yup, I’ve probably ruined it for someone.)

  24. I picked this up and was lucky enough to see Hickman at my comic shop. Great day and a great comic.

  25. I’ve never read a Fantastic Four comic, and really not even that big of a Marvel fan, but with the amount of praise surrounding this series and book, I’m definitely gonna go back to my comic shop tomorrow and pick up an issue of this.

  26. @TheNextChampion  I agree with this sentiment.  I thought this was a strong issue, but not the strongest he’s had.  However, as Josh points out in his review, he didn’t read all that came before (for the most part), so I can see how picking this up would be a revelation.  For those of us that have been reading month in and month out, it seems like a standard Hickman FF story, but from the perspective of someone new to the game, it may have that extra specialness.

  27. Darn its not neonomicon

  28. @Neb  I don’t have this issue in front of me, but speaking of gloves, I seem to recall that Reed and Sue (and Johnny) wore gloves ALL the time. Like, they are sitting on the couch wearing gloves and eating dinner with gloves. What’s that about?

  29. Serious question: I’m new with this book, so maybe someone can help me with something.

    If they all know Spidey is Peter, why doesn’t he take off the mask off (like when they are eating dinner)?

  30. @HailScott  how dare you ask such a brazen question, are u trying to say marvel editorial forgot that fact? THEY HAD A GOOD REASON

    lol jk, that is a good question, maybe the future foundation kids dont know? i dunno, it could just be that they wanted to showcase the new costume as much as possible

  31. Compared to the last two, this issue was pretty weak. 

  32. There’s always pressure for a Trinity even if it shouldn’t be made.

    People like their things in threes.

  33. Like Josh said, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this issue. Hickman does a fantastic job of showing us family and emotions. giving us those moments showing how Johnny is missed, makes the torch’s death seem more real.
    However . . . I still can’t get past the costumes – they just look like low-budget, British Sci-Fi uniforms. I also don’t like Spider-man just walking into the group . . . it just smells of marketing strategy. I grew up reading Spider-man as the loner who teams up with everyone, but never becomes a member. I still don’t like the fact that he’s an Avenger . . . not only is it out of character — it’s just overkill exposure.
    But after reading this issue – I’m still on board . . .  

  34. @Neb: If I was a new reader (or had a lack of idea what went on before) then I agree it’s probably a better issue.

    But since I caught up in trades for this run and jumped in issues for ‘4’ nothing about this was ‘fantastic’…..which is ironic. 

  35. I haven’t had the time to scroll down and read all the comments, but did anyone else notice when Spidey tried to sit in Johnny’s seat he was rejected, but then Ben just up and sat there?  


  36. @DanShadow  Yeah I mentioned it in the Panel of the Week article comments. It was weird that they made such a big deal about it being his chair and then NO chairs were empty in the next panel. It was just confusing.

    I bought this one but I think I am dropping this potato.

  37. @DanShadow  that’s funny. I didn’t notice it and it’s really cool that you noticed it. It probably would have been better to show us an empty chair, but maybe Hickman and Epting didn’t want to linger on Johnny being dead and wanted to go forward with the story.

    On a side note, I did notice that Sue isn’t as sad as she was in the previous book.

  38. I would have given it to either Osborn or Batroc this week myself.

  39. Great choice, Josh! I read a review from someone who really did not care for it and then I read your review. It helped calm me down after I left a long counter point as a comment.

    Check it here: http://comicsand.blogspot.com/2011/03/ff-1-review.html

    @DanShadow I noticed that, as well. You may have noticed that in the panel after the mess-up it looks like they noticed their error and added a chair inbetween Ben and Franklin. It looks like it was added later because the spacing isn’t correct.

  40. I really wanna see a scene next ish, with the FF attempting to get Doom into his new white hexagonal costume 😉

    This was a fantastic book in a week filled with many fantastic books.   I loved this one and I’ll admit I’d probably have made this my pick of the week too, but wow, there were so many good ones (like Generations Lost) to pick from, this week it was a tough call.    All in all, with the emotional fallout still lingering from the death of the Human Torch, this managed to be a standout choice!

  41. WOW…enough said

Leave a Comment