by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Steve Epting (pencils & inks), Rick Magyar (inks), Paul Mounts (colors), and Rus Wooton (letters)

The Story: The Future Foundation recalibrates following Johnny’s death, as dangers loom.

The Review: One thing is immediately clear while reading FF #1: this is what Jonathan Hickman has been building up to.  Many of the plot-threads resurge in this new series.  You get the return of the Wizard, a reminder regarding that little meeting Val had with Dr. Doom a few issues back, Nathaniel Richards’ return, and references to Sue’s new role in Old Atlantis and the fate of the Inhumans.  FF is, basically, a culmination of Hickman’s Fantastic Four.

Another thing that strikes me about this issue is just how well Hickman quite consciously balances the wild, super-heroics of FF with the idea of its being a family, with neither side being more important than the other.  They’re a group that goes off and has a wacky battle with AIM and then comes home to a family dinner afterwards.  More than that though is the fact that both these sides of the team are equally entertaining, albeit in totally different ways.  The superheroics bring the action and the sci-fi, while the family bits bring the laughs and the sincerity.  Speaking of laughs, little Bentley has the best line once again.

That said, there’s also a sense of sadness that lingers throughout the issue.  From the black and white outfits to Ben’s grieving to Franklin’s insistence of keeping Johnny’s seat empty at the dinner table, this is a family afflicted by loss, for all its superpowers and dinner table guffaws.  While Hickman doesn’t make that the defining feature of FF, it’s still present and not forgotten with a new #1.

I suppose the most important aspect of this issue is what it sets up for the future.  The return of the Wizard is ominous and promises a sure to be totally awesome plotline.  Meanwhile, the last page cliffhanger, revealing the FF’s newest member, is a massive shock and one that honestly gave me chills.  Granted, I’m a huge fanboy when it comes to the character in question, but it’s a massively powerful moment nonetheless.  Then there’s Nathaniel’s role throughout it all, already putting Reed’s customary leadership position into a greyer area.  All told, this is one of those issues that promises really good things to come and leaves Hickman’s FF in quite possibly a stronger and more interesting position than it’s ever been in before.

The only thing holding this book back from an A-grade is that it lacks something of an actual narrative or conflict to center itself around.  FF #1 is more interested in setting up the new status quo and planting seeds for the future than it is in telling a story in its own right.  There isn’t a major plot to revolve this issue around, let alone a story-arc.

As far as the art goes, Steve Epting is Steve Epting.  He balances the action and the at-home scenes well.  That being said, this issue doesn’t have quite the craziness of past issues, so this is a more restrained performance from him.  Your jaw won’t drop at anything, but that’s not to say that Epting doesn’t acquit himself well.

Conclusion: Glimpses of the future show very promising things as Jonathan Hickman continues to carve his place among the best FF writers of all time.

Grade: B+

-Alex Evans