by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Greg Tocchini (art), Paul Mounts (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)

The Story: The birth of Black Bolt is revealed.

What’s Good: There are some really bold literary themes in this one and some of its certainly really, really cool.  As we delve into the birth of Black Bolt, Hickman makes allusions to Jesus Christ, comparing the births between the two.  One simply can’t help but make the messianic connections when a Zordon-looking supreme intelligence called Supremo orders mass murder to eliminate a soon-to-be-awakened threat in Black Bolt.  Pile that up with all the epic talk of destiny and such, and it’s quite striking.

As Supremo compiles data, he also confers with a religious figure about the prophesied troublemaker, and it’s a nice intersection of faith/religion and science.  The result is a discussion that leads to an end that feels like a hybrid of the two that could only really occur in a science fiction comic book.  Certainly, between this and the religious allegory, Hickman delivers a rather high-brow, literary feel to the issue.

What’s Not So Good:  That said, this comic almost completely alienated me.  It is in every way a Marvels cosmic issue and does not feel at all like a Future Foundation or Fantastic Four-related book.  Certainly, no member of the Future Foundation is even referred to, but the real problem is that the events of this issue are so far distanced to those of the story that we’ve been reading so far, that it ends up being almost incomprehensible.

Who are these characters, exactly?  Why should we care?  More importantly, why should we, as FF readers, care?  None of that’s really delved into.

I think that readers versed in Abnett and Lanning’s cosmic work may appreciate that more.  However, Fantastic Four readers like myself who’ve never read those comics will feel adrift.  I’ve never really read a book centered on the Inhumans or the Marvels cosmic, for whatever reason.  As a result, many of these characters and the intricacies of the Kree and “metagenesis” are unknowns to me.  And it’s so roughly and quickly explained that it remains mystifying.

Some may cite this lack of knowledge as a fault of mine and not the issue, but frankly, why should I be expected to be versed in books up until now unrelated to fully understand, or even enjoy, the comic I’ve been following?

Quite frankly, this isn’t an FF comic.  It’s a cosmic comic featuring characters drawn in from other comics and corners of the Marvel universe and, in that sense, this feels a bit like a betrayal.  It may not have been a problem if Hickman had a chance to flesh out and explain this entire status quo and its characters in detail, but of course, that’s impossible and as a result, we get this vague mess.

Greg Tocchini’s art certainly doesn’t help matters.  It’s messy and feels sloppy by design, which doesn’t make it any more appealing.  The lack of detail in certain portions is also troubling.  Paul Mounts tries his absolute damndest to save Tocchini’s work and certainly, I can’t help but wonder what it looked like pre-coloring.

Conclusion: I’m honestly not sure why I had to read this.  Worst issue of FF by far, but then again, I’m not sure whether this even counts as an issue of FF.

Grade: D+

-Alex Evans