by Jonathan Hickman (writing), Juan Bobillo (pencils), Marcelo Sosa (inks), Chris Sotomayor (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)

The Story: The Future Foundation cross the Bridge into the former home of the Council of evil Reeds, now owned by the mad Celestials.

The Review: Last month, myself and many other reviewers took FF to task for the bizarre artwork turned in by Juan Bobillo.  While Hickman turned in a solid enough script, the art was completely off-kilter and wacky.

Well, the artwork still sticks out like a sore thumb, but there are improvements.  Bobillo’s take on Doom is fun and his illustrations of the Celestials and any technology is detailed and generally entertaining and charming to look at.  But really, most of the improvement should be credited to the incredible efforts of Sosa and Sotomayor, who work their asses off to make Bobillo’s art as appealing as possible.  Sosa uses pleasant, thick lines while Sotomayor has made a dramatic shift from his work last month, opting for a bright, vibrant palette that makes the comic far more appealing.

That said Bobillo is guilty of some of the same crimes:  it’s still difficult to tell some of the kids apart, Dragon Man looks nothing like himself, and Reed still looks far too old and weathered.  That said, I’m coming to the conclusion that Bobillo isn’t really a bad artist, just hugely inappropriate for this title.  Hickman is trying to tell a grandiose epic tale with heavy cosmic elements.  A heavily stylized indie cartoonist just isn’t a good fit for a book like this.

Hickman’s script, however, hits enough high notes that it makes the issue more than worthy for Fantastic Four fans to give it a look.  For starters, seeing Franklin confront a gang of Celestials is a blast.  We don’t often get to see Franklin flex his very superpower muscle, but whenever he does, it’s always “fist pump” awesome, and that’s certainly the case this month.  Power-level aware comic geeks will also get a serious kick out of a little tidbit the Celestials reveal regarding Franklin.

Also, yet again, Hickman writes a fantastic Doom.  His talking in the third person, his general badassery, it’s all here in spades and as always, it’s a treat to read.  What Hickman does so well is portray Doom’s reasoning, both highly intelligent and with an arrogance that forms a key part of his decision making.  Doom’s logic may make little sense for another character, but for Doom, it’s elegant perfection.

One scene that left me a bit lukewarm was the conversation between Val and Nathaniel, who decided to spend a few pages chatting about philosophy and theory relating to end-of-world scenarios.  It felt a bit unnecessary and something of a digression.  Also, knowing how much Hickman loves this sort of stuff, it’s hard not to see it as something of a self-indulgent moment for the writer.

As a final remark, and this isn’t meant as a criticism of the book at all really: new readers, don’t bother picking this issue up as your first introduction to Hickman’s work with Marvel’s first family.  The same can be said of the main Fantastic Four series.  Hickman’s FF books are about as non-new reader friendly as possible.  Hell, there are so many moving parts that even long-time readers can sometimes feel adrift.  It’s a fantastic book, but if you’re interested in it, pick up the first trade instead.  Otherwise, this will be impenetrable.

Conclusion: Improved, but still inappropriate artwork mixes with a solid script with satisfying high spots.

Grade: B-

-Alex Evans