by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Barry Kitson (artist), Paul Mounts (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (letterer)

The Story: The Doom conference on Reeds continues as Sue, Alex Power, and Spider-Man raise to stop a civil war erupting in Old Atlantis.

The Review: A single good concept can go a long way in carry a comic.  In this case, the continuing conference of FF bad guys led by Victor von Doom continues to be a very, very good concept.

There’s something so naturally awesome about the idea of a group of bad guys having a meeting in the Baxter Building about how to beat Reed and Hickman does a fantastic job of portraying the various personalities on display here.  Each villain is a different sort of bad guy and it’s so much fun watching them bounce off one another.  From Doom’s arrogance, to Diablo’s sly villainy, to the Wizard’s evil, this is great stuff.  Hickman also does an uproarious job in writing the Mad Thinker, who is everything his name suggests he is.  Throw in Reed, Val, and Nathaniel and this is merely an opportunity for Hickman to have strong personalities clash.

Furthermore, as grave and serious as the subject matter of this meeting is, there’s a constant undertone of humor, as you may expect given the cast involved.  From Reed’s telling Doom of what the his fellow Reeds do to the Dooms they find, to Reed’s muttering “this is a disaster,” this is just so much fun to read.

Also fun is the art provided by Barry Kitson.  I really like Steve Epting as an artist, but while his darker style suited the tone of the “Three” arc and the death of Johnny, he was quite the right fit for the FF moving forward.  Kitson brings a brighter more upbeat style that serves the series much better.

Bentley also continues to be an ace up Hickman’s sleeve.  The evil little kid is a scene-stealer as always, but this month he manages to be poignant as well, asking some hard questions about the FF.

Unfortunately for this issue, the plot itself is fairly basic.  The Old Atlantean civil war isn’t anything special at the moment and lacks the brilliant spark of the conference at the Baxter Building.  It’s not exactly bad, just not as gripping.  That said, it’s very early on, and I wholly expect Hickman to ratchet things up.

Conclusion: FF continues to be a very, very solid read, month in and month out.  For this reason, it remains a comic that I consistently recommend.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans