Matt Fraction (Writer), Joe Quinones (Artist), Laura Allred (Colorist)

The Story: Pool Party! That and also the meeting of Julius Caesar and the teachers.

The Review: This is a strange title. It is a curious way to start a review, but it also the truth. Let us consider exactly what we are reading: a bunch of superheroes teach a group of hyper-intelligent and very diverse group of children in order to form them for humanity’s future and betterment. In this group, we have a robot dragon, a bunch of children that comes from underground, with one of them having discovered his true gender a being much more feminine than what his masculine body would foretell, one being a head in a flying jar. I could go on with how bizarre all of these characters are but the point is this: this is a rather weird book.

While it may sound like a flaw of the book, let me reinstate this in the other way by pinpointing the fact that this is the strongest point of the title. Superhero books live by the fact that we can accept that some things aren’t here to make complete sense or to be completely logical, which this book accepts and even make it his biggest selling point. Where else could you get a book where all those students learn the joy of having a pool party, splashing around as their interaction provide the crucial entertainment we so crave?

As much as the teachers, the replacement FF are interesting and fully formed as characters, it is clearly the kids that are the stars of this book. The main reason is surprisingly simple: they actually behave as actual children, with their high and lows, their desires and their amazement toward some of their discovery. In making them so likable in their optimism, Matt Fraction managed to make it so incredibly gifted and talented kids can be so incredibly relatable as we see their actions. Who never splashed around when they were in a pool, trying to rush water toward the other to satisfy that primal urge of fun and action? These kids do in this issue and while it may sound as the most boring thing to describe in a comic, it is quite entertaining to read as these characters feel quite alive, as Bentley-23 tries to discover who the aquatic students, Vil and Wu are, while the other reacts differently to this whole basin of water that is there for their enjoyment.

Of course, while the kids are fun to read, they don’t bring that much to the overall plot of the issue, as looking at them in a pool for a full issue would grow tedious after a while. Thankfully, Fraction does a nice division on three fronts, as we see the ”film” Bently-23 is shooting, the pool shenanigans and the interaction between the teachers and Julius Caesar, the alien that actually posed as him in one of the earliest Fantastic Four issue. While his inclusion could have been something that came out of left field, Fraction here use this very impression as an advantage in order to complement the fun and aloof take of this title and the group in general, providing us with a funny moment in the process and a direction for the next couple of issues. The plot itself, when it comes down to it, is surprising, yet also has a lot of promise that does add to the whole feel of the book. The replacement FF might not be the stars here, but they are still entertaining enough on their own.

There is also another replacement on the book in the form of Joe Quinones, taking the place of Mike Allred for an issue. Just like the other issue in which he was a guest-artist, Quinones is a perfect match for Allred energetic and Kirby-inspired take on those characters. His flow, especially in the ”film” segment, is remarkable as he really does in some panels match what we’d expect to see when looking at the pacing of a movie. His panelling is also excellent, providing us readers with a variety of form and shapes that never distract from the focal point or the characters themselves, enhancing the effect that each pages tries to convey.

Laura Allred also contributes largely to the general effect of the book, using a plethora of bright and warm colors to focus on the optimistic and fun atmosphere of the book. The water really seems like it’s moving with her various tones of blue, while her small uses of dark colors in some panels do create a contrast that allow us to see the brighter part even better.

The Conclusion: With a brilliant art direction, credible kids character and some surprises here and there, FF continues to impress with its fun and bright look into the other part of the lives of the students and the teachers of the Future Foundation.

Grade: A-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière