By: Matt Fraction (story), Michael Allred (art), Laura Allred (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters)
The Story: The mysterious visitor from beyond the veil turns out to be more familiar than thought, telling tales of a horrifying (and pretty ludicrous) villain. Also, the Yancy Street Gang strikes!
The Review: I had high expectations for this book and as such, I ‘d be lying if I didn’t say that the first issue disappointed me a bit insofar as nothing much seemed to happen. Then, last month, it started to click. Now, with the third issue, I think this might stand along Hawkeye as among the very best books Marvel is currently publishing.
The reason for this is one word: fun. That is really the best and perhaps only word I can use to describe this issue. It’s off-kilter, it’s genuinely funny, it has a team with great chemistry, it’s thoroughly mad-cap, it’s human, and it’s clear that the creative team is having a great time putting it all together, which really shines through in their work.
Having the Allreds on this book is truly a stroke of genius and this is far and away their strongest outing yet. That trademark, pop-art style suits the book perfectly, getting across sense of zany fun that defines this book. There is so much to adore here: from Allred’s Scooby-Doo meets Snakes and Ladders chase sequence with the Yancy Street Gang, to the outfits of said gang in general, to his depiction of Times Square, to even the smaller things, like the humanity and pin-point accuracy with which he illustrates characters’ faces and their emotions. Allred is a godsend on this issue and Fraction lets him go to work.
Part of why this book is so enjoyable is that it’s just so downright funny and it’s funny on a variety of levels. The dialogue, for instance, crackles with humour and the majority of the laughs come from there. From the moloids to Scott, Fraction has these characters down and the result is that the quips and jokes come fast, comfortably, and easily. But Fraction can get it done with gags as well: the Yancy Street Gang’s nefarious plot and their costumes are so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh. Even Fraction’s ideas for the series generate laughs: I won’t bother spoiling the “new” villain beyond his name: Doom the Annihilating Conqueror. His origin story and concept are just so completely and utterly ludicrous that you can’t help but laugh and be thankful that we have something like comics, the only medium where something like this could exist.
Yet for all the laughs, this is a book that really has heart too. At it’s core, you have these four faced with the death of Marvel’s First Family, grappling with the huge shoes they have to fill. You have Scott, weighed down by past tragedies and failures and you have Darla, faced with the fact that she’s just an ordinary person but also unable to cope with what she sees as her cowardice last month. The result is a compelling cast of underdogs, scabs trying to fill costumes that perhaps weren’t originally meant for them, walking into roles they perhaps never dreamed of having.
Already, the relationships between the cast are growing. Fraction’s depiction of Scott and Darla’s dynamic in particular was nothing short of brilliant. It’s very subtle and never once said explicitly, but you the attraction between them is absolutely palpable. By issue’s end, you genuinely want to see these two together, and you won’t even know why – somehow, it just feels right, with their personalities fitting so well together. Of course, subtly building our expectations and hopes like that only lets Fraction get us with another gag, tease that he is.
Conclusion: Far and away the most fun you’ll from any comic this week, guaranteed. Improving exponentially with every issue, the sky is the limit for FF and I’m already salivating for issue 4.
– Alex Evans