Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 05.16.2012 – Fantastic Four #605.1

What did the
iFanboy
community think?

733
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.7
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 13.0%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mike Choi
Colors by Cris Peter
Cover by Mike Choi

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

Timing is, as they say, everything.

Earlier this week I found myself doing something that I haven’t done in a long time—browsing the back issue bins at a comic book store. I had some time to kill and in addition to finding some really fantastic Silver Age Action Comics covers I also came across tons of old issues of one of my all-time favorite comic book series: What If…? I came across a bunch of my old favorite: “What If… Captain America Were Elected President?”, “What If… The Hulk Went Berserk?”, “What If… Captain America Were Not Revived Until Today?” (I always liked What If…? Stories featuring Cap), and one that I’ve never read but now desperately want to: “What If… The Fantastic Four Were The Original Marvel Bullpen?” In the same way that I adore DC Elseworlds stories, I love exploring different variations of the familiar. What If…? Stories were all about seeing how a single decision or action could change everything, usually with tragic results. I loved that as a kid, and I continue to do so to this day.

Fast forward two days and I was sitting out in the sun on my balcony with a cold glass of water and a giant stack of comics. I opened up Fantastic Four #605.1 (ugh, I’m going to ignore the ridiculously dumb Point One experiment) and read this on the recap page:

A brilliant scientist—his best friend—the woman he loves—and her fiery-tempered brother! Together, they braved the unknown terrors of outer space, and were changed by cosmic rays into something more than merely human! Mr. Fantastic! The Thing! The Invisible Woman! The Human Torch! Now they are the Fantastic Four— But this is a different story… and the multiverse will never be the same…

I turned the page and found Doktor Reed Richards sitting down for a nice cup of tea and a chat with an elderly Adolph Hitler as they discuss the importance of space exploration.

My god, it’s basically “What If… The Nazis Won World War II and Reed Richards Worked For Hitler?”!

I’ve heaped so much praise on Jonathan Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four that you’d think he was Brian Michael Bendis and this was 2006. I really can’t say enough good things about what Hickman has managed to do with a series that was once thought impossible to make relevant. He’s made some bold moves and told some big stories and now that his major opus has wrapped up, he’s spending his remaining time on the book telling one-off stories, which is a ballsy move in-and-of itself these days.

In this story we travel to another planet in the Marvel Multiverse to see how things would be different for Reed and the Gang if they piloted that space ship into cosmic radiation under a Nazi flag instead of an American one. In this new world in which New York is called New Berlin and the entirety of Boston has been converted into a concentration camp, Doktor Reed Richards is the Nazi’s most brilliant scientist and a favorite of Adolph Hitler. In attempting to fulfill Hitler’s grand plan to conquer the stars, a team is assembled: two of the most ruthless and bloodthirsty fighters in the army (Sue and Johnny Sturm), the Jewish pilot and resident of the Boston concentration camp (Ben Jakob Grimm), and another scientist almost as brilliant as Doktor Richards (Viktor Von Doom). The names are familiar but these are not the same people that we are used to in the Marvel Universe proper, and none more so than Doktor Reed Richards who is a flat out villain in this issue.

(As an aside, I find it interesting that over the last ten years or so, it seems rather the popular thing to do to turn Reed Richards evil. He’s the bad guy here and in the Ultimate Universe, and in Civil War he went fascist and basically built a gulag for his friends and loved ones. It’s interesting how Marvel Comics seems to view the consequences of being so super intelligent.)

As they must, the “Fantastic Four” fly into space, encounter that cosmic radiation storm, and come back to Earth… changed. But not in the way you are used to. Then things start to get really bloody. (And that’s after Doktor Richards utilizes Victor Von Doom’s keen scientific mind by cutting out the portions of Doom’s brains that he likes and combining them with his own. That scene creeped me the fuck out.) Of course, by the end, it all ties into the epic Fantastic Four tale that Hickman has been telling as this Reed travels time and space and ends up as the shaved head and bearded member of the Council of Reeds.

Jonathan Hickman has always been a writer who has weaved real history into his fiction (see: Pax Romana) and he seems to really enjoy taking real events and real people and exploring a twisted, more fantastical version. It as fun to read this book in the same week as The Manhattan Projects in that both books employ similar historical (science) fiction narratives, and they’re both done with such an incredibly high level of craft that reading them, especially in the same week, is a real treat.

An unexpected highlight of this issue was the art of Mike Choi. The last time I saw his work was when he did fill-in work on an issue of Green Lantern and that did not work for me at all. He tends to draw slighter and younger looking versions of these familiar characters and whereas that was all wrong for Green Lantern, here it really worked. Actually, his style in this issue reminded me a lot of the excellent work that Nick Pitarra is doing on The Manhattan Projects. There’s a similar attention to detail, grittiness, and a “big head, skinny body” style that both artists employ that helps to link these two similarly toned books even more. Choi’s dead eyed Reed is especially creepy.

His gaze pierces my very soul.

 

Conor Kilpatrick
Seriously. My very soul.
conor@ifanboy.com

 

Comments

  1. Agree totally. I am looking forward to what Hickman does at Marvel next, but I will be bummed when he eventually leaves F4/FF. He has just been killing it. The only Marvel book(s) I am reading right now, and the super hero book I look forward to most.

  2. Wonderful choice. While I consider the last issue to be one of the best issues of Fantastic Four ever, this one was amazing too. Some of the atmosphere of Philip Dick’s The Man in the High Castle but in the realm of superheroes.

  3. Wait, Nazi Fantastic Four?

    Dammit, now I HAVE to read it.

  4. I was thinking about getting this but what made me avoid it was the APPALLING art by Mike Choi. Sorry….it just looked horrible so I avoided it.

    But I did give Hickman POTW status with MANHATTAN PROJECTS #3. Seriously, this is my vote for Best Series of 2012. Perfection on every page.

  5. Go the mighty Jonathan Hickman, it was a fight between this & The Manhattan Projects for me & I went with the latter.

    Bit of a shock since I’m sure most people thought it would be between Saga & Daredevil!

  6. 100% agreed … so amazing. I loved Ben Grimm in this issue, both his look and character.

  7. I think most people would agree, this was a fantastic week for comics. F4, saga, manhattan projects, wonder woman, daredevil, conan…hell, even justice league was great!:)

    PS: i’m fully expecting the “remember the alamo” scene from F4 to be in the best panels of the week:)

  8. Marvel’s opening up their Elseworlds.

  9. I also love What Ifs? and Elseworlds a lot and its nice to see praise on FF like you said, “stories once thought to make relevant” and I haven’t read but maybe one or two of Hickman’s FF run, but look forward to a big omnibus when its collected, and we know it will be. 😉

  10. I haven’t read Fantastic Four 605.1 but if it tops Manhattan Projects 3 then it must really be badass! I wonder what Ron picked this week. I bougt all 3 issues of MPs yesterday as recommended by iFanboy. I hope they did POW podcasts sooner.

  11. If you’re keeping score, this is the 4th PoTW for Hickman in 2012. His 3rd for his Fantastic Four/FF run.
    He currently has twice as many PoTW reviews than Brian K. Vaughn, Mark Waid, and Scott Synder.

  12. So when is the massive collection of Hickman’s FF coming out?

  13. Hickmans run is right up there with byrnes as my fave ff runs now
    y pick was avx 4
    Im loving this event. I may be in the minority here. But im loving it saga and ff waa a close second
    Always liked choi since xforce great review

  14. Saga #3 all the way this week. Hickman’s FF has just never done it for me, although I have enjoyed some of his other stuff (Manhattan Projects has been engaging). Marvel just bores me in general, though.

  15. I’m not a blind fan of Hickman (his Shield work confused me and I never read anything by him until this run) but HOLY CRAP was this issue awesome. When I turned the page and saw that this Reed was the bearded Reed from the Council of Reeds, I was floored. I love it. They didn’t explain where Bearded Reed aka Nazi Reed got the sword, (because I thought that Reed also carried a sword which looked awesome.) but its okay. This was awesome. Great pick of the week,

  16. Wow was this good. I didn’t read the preview for this at all so I had no idea it was going to be like this, I was very plesantly surprised! I’m really going to miss Hickman on this book.

  17. this was a great issue (id probably have gone saga for my pick, but i may be caught up in the buzz and the newness where this book suffers from being awesome for too long to get my mojo up as much as the shiny new stuff) this is my favorite of hickmans works, while i love his creator owned work, he is very much a big idea guy and his characters often seem more like cyphers to move the story along. i never think of his characaters when i think of his work. i think of the concepts. this is not a bash in any way, just to me it shows hickmans priority. with the FF, he doesnt have to build characters, decades of other creators have done that heavy lifting for him, and figured out who these people are. all hickman has to do is understand that, build on it and craft stories that use those characters. this issue is a great example. it works so well because we know who these people are in the 616 universe. if this was the first ff i ever read it wouldnt resonate as well as it does when i know who these people are, and really understand the tragedy of how it plays out. i really genuinely feel sorry for whoever follows hickman on this book. in all honesty, if i were marvel id hire someone terrible next. let them ruin the book, so whoever follows them will be a vast improvement. while the art in hickmans run has had soft spots (never bad in my mind, just some not being as strong as others or the writing) i feel this run is easily in the top 5 runs on ff, and probably not in the number 5 spot.

  18. wow. a .1 issue got POTW. i’ll go ahead and cross that off my “shit you’ll never see” list.
    this convinces me that anything is possible.

  19. I felt validated when I saw F4 was iFanboy’s PotW this week – it was definitely mine in a week filled with Manhattan Projects, Saga, and Daredevil.

    Not only was the story compelling, but the final-page reveal was awesome. 605.1 suggests some interesting directions future issues could go: how Nazi Reed got his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet, Nazi Reed’s interactions with other superheroes/villains (like, what happened to Cap in this universe?), not to mention exploring some of the other Reeds from the Council.

    I’m really looking forward to the Fat Reed issue.

  20. Did anyone else notice there were THREE Infinity Gauntlets? Doom had two at the end of FF#17, is the third accounted for?

  21. Where is the list of community pick of the week?

  22. This was a really fun issue. I’m always a sucker for an else-worlds one-shot issue…and add in some alternate history with Nazis…yeah thats good comics. Great Pick.

  23. Although I’m a new convert to Hickman , the main lure for me was Mike Choi’s appearance as artist. This was the first comic i grabbed in my stack to read and….WOW! I was not expecting to like this as much as I did. In fact, I was mad after I finished this. Call it jealousy, envy or whatever, but this is the kind of comic i wish i had written. Just an imaginative perspective in comic book writing.

    I read Hickman’s other books (Manhattan Projects, Secret,…), but this issue of Fantastic Four solidified my respect for Hickman as a writer.

  24. That’s it. I’m saving up now for an OMNIBUS of Hickman’s Fantastic Four.

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