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Another Look

Posted by bnwadmin On April - 11 - 2011

If you have been coming into the store and asking me what I have enjoyed at anytime over the past several months my answer has always been Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. So it is only fitting that I decided to take Another Look at two books that have been out for a few weeks – FF #1 and Amazing Spider-Man #657. While these books were released in the order listed, I recommend reading Spider-Man first; it actually leads into FF #1 and could make your enjoyment that much stronger.

SPOILER ALERT! I want to get this out of the way now. Please read no further if you are a Fantastic Four fan and have yet to read the issue where one of its members bites it. And if you do fall into this category, why haven’t you read this issue yet? You deserve to have it spoiled for you. But I digress.

Amazing Spider-Man #657

Dan Slott (w) Marcos Martin (a)

About a month ago the next issue of Amazing Spider-Man to hit the shelves after the death of Johnny Storm was #655 and it dealt with the aftermath of the death of Marla Jamieson. No mention of Johnny’s Storm’s passing could be found. Granted, the issue was perfect in the continuity of the ongoing Spidey title. However it had the bad luck of coming out the same week as the final issue of Fantastic Four, in which it’s surviving members plus a certain web head all dealt with the emotional aftermath of the matchstick being extinguished for good.

It was unfortunate too because the issue was referred to by Dan Slott as the best thing he had ever written. And while I did enjoy it, it was also overshadowed a bit for me by Jonathan Hickman’s final issue of Fantastic Four.

Fast forward to last week and Amazing Spider-Man #657 finally got around to dealing with the Human Torch’s demise. However, if you read FF #1 which came out a few weeks earlier you already knew that Spider-Man was the newest member (he is going to compete with Wolverine for team memberships soon).

While the official invitation is revealed in #657, the issue is much more than that as we learn what role each member of the FF played in the Fantastic Five’s lives. Some make sense, others will be a surprise. I was definitely caught off guard as to the group’s designation of Reed. It was a typical walk down memory lane, remembering someone they fault alongside for so many years.

One of the best moments comes when Ben Grimm recalls how he liked it when Spidey was around because it gave Ben a break from all of Johnny’s pranks. And it was true, he did get a break, for a bit.

While #655 was really well done and very poetic, for my money give me #657. It is another opportunity to say goodbye to a cherished member of the Fantastic Four and Marvel community, but also a perfect jumping on point and a new future for not only Spidey, but the remaining members of the FF.

FF #1

Jonathan Hickman (w) Steve Epting (a)

It’s odd to think that after all these years there is not a new issue of the Fantastic Four coming out. The book has morphed into FF, which makes sense since one of the original members is gone.

Even if you have not read anything that has come before, this introduction issue is a terrific jumping on point and hopefully a catalyst for people to take a look back at Hickman’s entire run not just on the book but with the team (beginning in the Dark Reign Fantastic Four mini-series).

Just like the issue prior, we find the team in the grips of the death of their brother and friend. We welcome a new member onto the squad, which now has a new look (several actually). But there is more as we find how everyone is dealing with Johnny’s demise.

Two of the most telling are Reed and Valerie. Reed seems to be going out of his way to be more understanding and more of a presence for the entire family instead of sequestering himself in his lab and he is want to do most of the time. No, that role now goes to Valerie who seems to have adopted some of her father’s more obsessive traits when it comes to solving a problem.

And that is what this new team is all about, solving problems any way they can, including inviting a very surprising individual to join them in this quest.

I also love how Hickman begins the story narrative, telling the tale through Spider-Man’s eyes as we play witness to how he sees the team in their mourning period and how they are looking into the future.

One thing is for sure, this is not your father’s Fantastic Four anymore.

I am eager to see how long the emotional effects last for all of the team members, especially Ben and Reed who at least on the outside seem to have the most visible issues dealing with what has occurred. It will be interesting to see if Hickman is tempted to tell those stories, and then move on. As anyone who has experienced lost knows, that while things do return to normal, more often than not those initial changes creep into your personality and will always affect those characters motivations moving forward – and that is one story I am looking very forward to reading.

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