By: Jonathan Hickman (writer), Nick Dragotta (art), Chris Sotomayor (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)

The Story:  Can Peter Parker possibly survive the sheer, mind-imploding aggravation of having Johnny Storm for a room-mate?

The Review:  Jonathan Hickman is among my favourite writers, but he wouldn’t exactly be my first choice to write a sitcom, much as I wouldn’t choose, say, Brian Azzarello to write a romantic comedy.  Yet, somehow, Hickman gives us a superhero sitcom with this issue and it is, well, fantastic.  All the jokes are hits and this is a book that is guaranteed to get you smiling.

In both Hickman’s energetic, upbeat script and Nick Dragotta’s cartoony, high-paced artwork, this issue of FF maintains a consistently jocular tone that keeps you in a mood primed for laughter.  Pete’s increasing level of suppressed anger, slowly rising to boiling point, is matched perfectly to Johnny’s complete and total obliviousness.  Hickman plays the dynamic perfectly; he gives us peaks into Peter’s mind, which only make Johnny’s behaviour all the more ridiculous.

And really, that’s classic Johnny comedy – him being a total dick without being at all aware of it.  Furthermore, who better to play the human punching bag than Peter Parker, who’s always been good at playing the role of the sad sack.  Hickman also has fun in pushing the envelope a bit with the two characters.  For instance, we get to see Peter get high on…something…and unleash his inner party animal, a sequence that Dragotta clearly had a total blast with.  Then there are portions that Hickman leaves perfectly ambiguous – did Johnny REALLY sleep with Mary Jane?  In a sense, the comedy makes this issue feel at times like an anything goes, no-holds-barred affair.

Aside from the general tone of the book, Hickman also gets off a couple of extremely quotable, hilarious lines.  Seeing Kal and the Light Brigade playing poker leads to some ridiculously funny trash-talk from Kal that will definitely stay with you long past this issue.

But what will really, really stick with you is the final page, which is an absolutely incredible gag and one that will probably live forever in comics immortality.  Seriously, do NOT skip to the last page and ruin it for yourself.  This is an absolute jaw-dropper.  It’s…yeah.  There’s really not much more to say about it other than this may be the best final pages I’ve seen in a comic this year.  It’s THAT good.

The only admittedly minor complaint regarding the comic is just something with respect to Dragotta’s art.  I understand that he’s bringing that cartoonist’s sense of exaggeration and caricature, which works well in a comedic book like this one.  However, there are a few panels that are simply too exaggerated.  Mostly, I’m thinking of the panels where a character’s jaw drops in astonishment/wonder/disgust/whatever.  It looks downright inhuman to the point of being a little disturbing.  Seriously, There’s a couple panels where Peter looks like a cross between Van Gogh’s screaming man and something out of a Japanese horror movie.

Conclusion:  A real blast and an absolute must if you’re looking for a light-hearted good time.

Grade: B+

– Alex Evans