by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Dale Eaglesham (art), Paul Mounts (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)

The Story: Reed must see both the good and the band, before making the decision of whether or not to join the High Council.

What’s Good: As one of the many Reeds says in one of the strongest conversations of the book, “pretend there is no horizon.”

I think that that line really sums up why this is such an excellent comic book.  It’s insane, it’s ridiculous, and it’s thoroughly impossible, and in so being, it ends up being just what a comic should be.  As I saw dozens of Reeds wandering about, reshaping the universe on a massive scale, battling multiple Silver Surfers, and terraforming planets, I was struck with the enormity and grandiosity of it all.  This book manages to ignore realistic boundaries in ways only a superhero comic can, and it makes the impossible possible in a manner that is pure fun.  Is it taut, intelligent, political intrigue?  No.  But this is the sort of comic that makes you feel like a kid again.

It’s also clear that Hickman has a very solid grip on the characters.  Reed’s internal strife is well depicted and his conversation with Sue is tender; one understands her argument, but Reed is so lovable that it’s impossible for the reader not to forgive him just as Sue does.  Meanwhile, a breakfast conversation between Franklin and Johnny is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face as only the FF can.

I also enjoyed seeing the dark side of the High Council, a side that is coldly logical yet incredibly inhumane and unpleasant.  Yet, I appreciated that Hickman doesn’t use this to go the obvious route of making them evil.

That said, returning to the idea of enormity and impossibility, nowhere is this better displayed than in the issue’s ending, which was pure awesome.  It’s great, great cliffhanger that will have you dying for more. This comic is truly all about achieving the extraordinary and operating on a limitless scale.

Meanwhile, Eaglesham has a better outing this month.  His technology looks great, but more than anything, the entire comic has a warm, comforting, and accessible feel to it.  The book feels both awe-inspiring and inviting, friendly even.   Considering some of the massive things Eaglesham’s drawing here, that’s quite a feat.  He also does great work on the facial expressions, being spot-on with his depictions of even the subtlest emotion.

What’s Not So Good: This isn’t really a Fantastic Four book, nor is this looking to be a Fantastic Four arc.  This issue is basically entirely about Reed Richards and his dopplegangers.  The Fantastic Four have one admittedly fun conversation at the breakfast table, but that’s all we see of the team.  Hell, while it was good, that whole scene wasn’t even entirely necessary save to remind us of their presence.

I complained about this last time as well, but Eaglesham also has the annoying superhero artist tendency of making every male character look like a jacked up power-lifter.  Seeing an army of Reeds all looking like linebackers is quite annoying and Johnny looks almost silly, hulking over the breakfast table.

Conclusion: Pure fun and what a comic should be, I’m completely thrilled to be reading the FF again.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans