by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Barry Kitson (art), Paul Mounts (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)

The Story: The siege on Old Atlantis comes to a head as Sue comes to learn what Reed’s been keeping from her.

What’s Good: With Old Atlantis under siege, Hickman gives us an issue that is both epic and desperate.  Seeing Sue and Alex stand against hordes of angry Atlanteans and Moloids, war engines and all, is exciting and grandiose.  All told, it both looks and reads impressively.  I loved seeing Alex play hero and unleash some real power.

Better still is Sue’s encounter with an “evil Reed.”  Her reaction is well-written and the whole thing, and really this whole issue, continues to turn the alter-Reeds into not only a credible villainous contingent, but one that’s downright frightening.  This month’s evil Reed in question, particularly in his treatment of Sue, is ice cold chilling and overall, the tone in which Hickman writes the Reeds goes a long way in making them a not only unique, but also very threatening enemy.  Sue’s confronting her Reed about all this is also a moment that is written sincerely and genuinely.

There’s also a little two-page interlude in which Alicia Masters plays grief counselor with Ben.  It may sound like this would be jarring, given that it comes out of nowhere, but it’s a nice little reprieve.  It’s heartfelt and Kitson’s Thing looks almost too adorable with his frowny demeanor.  It was only two-pages, but I could’ve done with more of this.

Barry Kitson’s art continues to be a major boon for FF moving forward.  His work has a slightly old school feel that brings a great deal of liveliness and energy to go along with the detail and general artistic horsepower.  His armies of monstrous looking Old Atlanteans and mole things look great, and his facial expressions on the various Reeds and the very slimy Mole Man are well done.  I also like his take on Sue, who has a distinct face as opposed to just being another good-looking blonde in the Marvel U.

What’s Not So Good: While I enjoyed Kitson’s art, my feelings weren’t quite as positive when it came to Paul Mounts’ colours this month.  This is odd, given that I normally like Mounts’ work.  This month, however, things are just a little bit odd.  The scenes at Old Atlantis feel a little too pale and washed out.  What’s worse is that that two-page scene with Ben does a full 180 from this, suddenly looking overly saturated and way too…pinky orange?  It’s almost as though someone else colored those two pages.  His work does come together in the books latter portions, but it’s generally not his best outing.

The book also opens with a scene where Franklin and his friends stick up Doom, Diablo, Wizard, and Mad Thinker with toy guns.  I imagine that some may have founded this funny, but I personally found it too cute, even forced.  At best, it lacked believability.  I really don’t think a kid as smart as Franklin would be playing toy guns with high-powered and generally evil supervillains.  It’s a rare misstep for Hickman, whose portrayal of the kids I’ve generally enjoyed.

Conclusion: FF remains a book that is a consistently solid read.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans