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

The Review: This issue of Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four reminds me of those really badass episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that I totally geeked out over as a kid…and then rediscovered years later in college, only to geek out over again.

It’s a gigantic space battle with tons of ships and multiple participants.  The result is epic, large scale combat that is everything a cosmic book should be.  Better still, like those great DS9 episodes, Hickman knows how to ratchet up the tension by bringing in new sides/participants to the conflict.  When the tide seems to be shifting one way, someone else shows up to the battle to change the dynamic entirely.  All told, it’s massive stuff with lots of action and, despite being a gigantic scale space battle, it feels emotionally meaningful.  In a medium full of hollow action scenes, that’s pretty significant.

As usual, Hickman does a great job of hitting his narrative high-points.  There’s a sense that he continues to up the ante and there are enough moments that, individually, will either make you smile, inwardly cheer, or, in a couple instances, give you chills of awesomeness.

As far as the cheering/smiling bit goes, Hickman does a great job with Sue this month.  As he has done throughout his run, Sue is nothing less than a badass and Hickman never shies away from her very high power level and the unique uses her powers can be put to.

Then there’s Galactus, whose presence is alluded to on the cover.  When the big guy shows up….well….yeah, I guarantee that you will get chills.  Hickman is writing Galactus just as he should be: godly.  The minute he hits the battlefield, everyone else appears insignificant.  Seeing him even unleash a fraction of his power is awesome.  Hickman’s writing of Galactus, in his actions and his words, portray an entity on a different scale entirely, which is just as it should be.  Hickman’s use of prophecy also makes things all the more ominous.

This of course leads to the cliffhanger, which readers of FF #14 (while not at all mandatory, if you bought both books, read that first) will see coming.  This ending was, again, chill inducing.  I can’t wait to see what Hickman has in store.

Artistically, Barry Kitson, along with Paul Mounts, turn in art that is the direct opposite of FF #14’s.  Unlike that book, I could not imagine art better suited to the tone of Hickman’s script.  Kitson’s style is very orthodox, but impressive in craftsmanship overall.  It’s not necessarily jaw-dropping at all times, but it’s solid throughout and very consistent.  Kitson nails his characters’ expressions perfectly and I enjoy the retro sci-fi feel he subtly imbues the alien technology and spaceships with.  All told, he remains a great choice for this book.

Conclusion: Lots and lots of fun with several big, memorable moments.

Grade: A-

-Alex Evans