REVIEW: Fantastic Four #1, a Great Return for Marvel's First Family (Spoilers)
After three long years of being absent from comic shop shelves, the Fantastic Four return to print. Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and their children have been missing from the Marvel universe since 2015, leaving Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm to mourn. The two set out on their own journey throughout the multiverse in search of the other half of their team in the revival of Marvel Two-in-One which has aided in the heated anticipation for the reunion in Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli’s first issue of Fantastic Four. I will be delving into spoiler territory for Fantastic Four #1, so be sure to pick it up!
Like the web-headed character that Dan Slott previously worked on, the Fantastic Four got their start in the early 60s when they were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The roster, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and the Thing, was intended to be a relatable nuclear family with incredible powers. Reed and Sue filled the parental roles while Ben and Johnny often acted as untamed children. Though the Four sometimes bickered and disagreed amongst themselves, they served to show how crucial it is for a family to overcome differences to function properly. Though the family doesn’t officially reunite in this first issue, Slott and Pichelli push these familial interactions to the forefront and lay the groundwork for storytelling of epic proportions to come.
Through the reboot of Marvel Two-in-One (by Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung), we’ve seen the sibling-like bickering get out of hand between Ben and Johnny without Reed and Sue to keep them in check. This is how we find them in the beginning of the issue after Ben asks Johnny to be the best man at his wedding. Johnny becomes outraged because he believes Reed is the only man who should have been the best man. He is still in denial that the other half of their team is gone, while Ben has already accepted that they are gone and is trying to get Johnny to do the same. Though the Thing and the Human Torch argue explosively, they settle down because at the end of the day, they are all that remains of the family and they need each other.
Opposite them, in an unknown location, Reed and Sue appear in the story for two panels but their interaction is vital to the series’ relaunch. They are, presumably, trying to get back home and Sue asks Reed if his seemingly impossible plan is going to work. He responds by saying, “One question. Do you believe in me?” and his wife says, “Always,”. Reed then says that this is the reason he is always able to do the impossible, the strength in his relationship with Sue. Hopefully as the series continues, we fans get to see some flashbacks of how that relationship kept them alive out in the far reaches of wherever they might have been.
Although we don’t see a proper reunion, we see the team together in a flashback to a previous cosmic adventure. The Fantastic Four are lost in space and have a space travel guide helping them navigate home, but she tells them that they need their best singer to find the way back. It is explained that beings vibrate at the same frequency as their homeworld and if they hit perfect pitches, it will essentially create a fishing line for them to follow back to Earth. This scene is a bit campy and silly, much like the realm of comics was back in the 60s. But, it is a outlandish and campy good time that gives us a glimpse at what’s in store for the team once they are reassembled.
Right out of the gate, Slott and Pichelli are demonstrating a tremendous amount of heart in this relaunch of the "World’s Greatest Comic Magazine". These core family values have kept the split halves of the team alive all this time. It is thrilling to think about all of the epic adventures to come with the entire team and to see how that familial relatability will engross readers in those adventures.