by Matt Fraction (Writer), Michael Allred (Artist), Laura Allred (Colorist)

The Story: The replacement four meets the Impossible Man in their voyage to save the Fantastic Four. Meanwhile, the future foundation gets a class on how to conquer.

The Review: There are some book out there that could be only described adequately with one word: fun. There are dozens of other ways these types of books could be called, yet it all boil down the essence of pure entertainment. Sure, the role of every comic is to provide some form of amusement with its stories, characters, actions and so forth, yet there are some that have that special ”fun” factor that is hard to describe, yet can be felt when they are read.

FF could certainly be qualified as one of those books, with its non-grandiloquent way to look at their characters and their problems, the general adventures they have and the fact that the main story isn’t even that important to begin with. It’s all about the current adventure and how they make us perceive the action and the conflict they need to solve, which makes this book entertaining in ways that some book simply can’t emulate.

This issue as a perfect example as Matt Fraction use one of the classical characters from Fantastic Four created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. While he could have gone ahead and made a more traditional use of the character, making him do crazy stunts and be generally annoying toward the protagonists, he instead subvert the expectations of the readers by showing him in a role unseen with the character: as a father.

Despite the fact that the characters and the whole conflict is shown in big themes and with kooky characters in costume, the problems aren’t any less realistic, with Impossible Man caring for his child, knowing that he has problems to deal with. Even the dialogue with the child in question shows a pretty way of demonstrating how some children are shy and have emotional or social problems. It gets even better as we see some of the characters actually acts like teacher, with some of the best moments brought in by Medusa in this issue. Despite their strangeness sometimes, superhero comics are usually symbolism of real world problems that we face each day, so it’s nice to see a book show the problems some children have to adapt to the real world in such a positive light.

What worked less effectively, though, was the scene with the future foundation. Usually, the children are the stars of this book, but they have close to no presence here as they are merely used to push some key plot threads from the book forward, like the Doom situation and the fact that Julius Cesar is there. It is a nice twist to see that character still being used and the children are still likeable despite the short appearance, yet it’s far too short to be truly memorable on its own.

A bit better, though not as great as the scenes with the replacement four are those featuring Maximus the mad, who is a tad different here than how we can see him in other books. While his scenes are funny and use the latter part of his name quite well in order to bring in some comedy and some development toward the end of the book, it seems a bit off from the previous versions of the character as seen in Infinity, New Avengers and the cosmic line of the previous years. It’s good, but a bit disappointing as well.

The latter part of that previous statement could never be said about Michael Allred, though, who delivers his artistic panache once more in this book. As if he was trying to channel the spirit of the character himself, the scenes featuring Impossible Man and his son are effective in their chaos, yet not so that it becomes devoid of a certain visual flair and an originality in his panelling and his use of space. Despite that chaos, he is still able to make his characters very expressive, be it in cartoonish or realistic ways, using both visual tones naturally without creating a clash that destroy the effect the script is going for.

Laura Allred, meanwhile, does her best to add to this chaos with a good touch of wonders and strangeness herself with her colors. The scenes with the Impossible Man and his crazy little world are mainly in purple and green, yet there are always elements to contrast with that duality to make it seem even more alien to us, be it the characters or a part of the scenery. For the rest of the scenes, the colors are bright, yet cold, which does reinforce the reactions readers might have for the scenes with Impossible Man.

The Conclusion: With a weird, yet decidedly heartfelt take on its characters, themes and its approach to some real world issues, this issue provide some neat twists on existing characters while providing some excellent art and colorization by the Allreds. A nice issue indeed.

Grade: B+

-Hugo Robberts Larivière