by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Dale Eaglesham (art), Paul Mounts (colors), and Rus Wooton (letters)

The Story: After fighting a gang of robots in typical FF style, Reed enters the Bridge to meet a “council” of very familiar faces.

What’s Good: As a Fantastic Four comic, Hickman’s first go is generally a success for being 22 pages of pure fun that manages to put a smile on your face.  In other words, it’s exactly how an FF comic should be.  The battle with the robots is flashy and fun, the bad guy sounds suitably crazy, providing the necessary darkness in an otherwise bright comic, and the comic ends with some required inter-dimensional wackiness.

A special mention must go to the first scene of the book.  It truly is an iconic way to begin a run, feeling both intimate and grand. It’s touching, yet it also foreshadows an epic lot of stories to come. Let’s hope Hickman can live up to that promise.

It’s always a test for a writer’s first issue on a venerable series; and it’s good to see that Hickman has a solid handle on the various characters’ voices.  Johnny and Ben maintain their humourous banter (or glum moroseness in the case of Ben), but a special mention must go to the way Hickman handles the kids.  The kids are all too often the victims of poor writing, either sounding mentally handicapped, inappropriately mature, or some bizarre hybrid of the two that just sound off. Hickman passes the test with flying colors.  Franklin sounds like the fun, adventurous kid that he is, while Val definitely sounds too old for her age, but it’s appropriate for her character and Hickman makes sure to point out the oddity of it while maintaining Val’s tone of innocence despite the outrageous maturity of her dialogue. She’s still a kid, just an outrageously smart one.

All told, this is a fun comic that takes a little break from the Dark Reign glumness. It’s nice to see Reed venturing out into alternate Earths and in-between spaces once again. The party he finds on the other side of the bridge is a bit of surreal, almost comedic fun, while the last page reveal promises more cosmic mayhem to come.

What’s Not So Good: While Eaglesham’s art is solid by and large, it needs to be asked: what the hell is up with Reed? When did the lanky scientist become a world-class bodybuilder? This may sound like I’m nitpicking, but it’s really distracting. Seriously, Richards looks way, way too buff.

Despite Eaglesham’s calibre as an artist, I did find some of his action scenes in the early parts of the issue a little hard to follow at points as well. I could tell that the Thing was clobbering a robot, but how and what part of the robot remained a bit of a mystery. I’m not sure if the panels were too small, or what it was exactly, but it was a little hard to decipher.

Also, while the comic is far from unreadable, I do feel as though I would have benefited from reading Hickman’s Dark Reign: Fantastic Four miniseries, which is a little irritating.

Conclusion: A solid and promising start to what will hopefully be nice run.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans