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

The Story: As the teachers prepare for the rescue attempts of the Fantastic Four and the students mess around, Dr. Doom and Maximus mess around on their own.

The Review: I don’t believe I was the only one that was a tiny bit afraid that this title would receive a drop in quality with Matt Fraction leaving his scripting duty. Change, in comics as in anything else, is never easy as Lee Allred took on the title with Michael Allred, making this series an all-Allred affair until the sixteenth issue. However, change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if it’s handled well.

To the major credits of the new creative team working with the notes left by Fraction, the tone is quite intact, as the adventures of the children and adults of the Future Foundation are still very enjoyable as they are. To an even greater amount of credit, they even went on with the plot, moving along several pieces without compromising what made this series fun to begin with.

Most of this effect is achieved through the excellent pacing, as Lee and Michael Allred have a knack to keep the momentum of the issue, moving each subplots at a steady pace without making it look rushed. Ant-Man gets some development about his issues with the death of his daughter, the kids get some more cute moments, the annihilating conqueror teased since the beginning of the series is being hinted at, Maximus and Caesar mess around and a deal of other stuff do happen here, as none of these scenes clash with the progression. It is a sign of excellent pacing as each scenes really do accomplish what they seek to do. They vary in terms of success, but for the most part it’s done well.

The characters are also handled with care, for the most part, with Adolf the impossible boy receiving some special care, which is logical considering the fact that he’s the latest addition to the cast. While his scene do include a deal of meta-fiction, the effectiveness of which can be varying depending on the readers affection to this particular trope, it’s nonetheless fun and handled in a tongue-in-cheek manner, with an ending that manage to be funny and touching at the same time.* Ant-Man, Caesar and Maximus do receive a good amount of panel-time and some interesting tidbits as well, but there’s a character that receive a good amount of that as well, yet not in the best of way, is Dr. Doom.

There are many variations on how Victor Von Doom is portrayed, touching on his arrogance, his intellect and his vanity, yet this version puts a general emphasis on his evilness that is a bit too close to cartoon villainy rather than anything remotely interesting. It may seem funny to make Doom severely punish his servant for not cutting the crust on his sandwich, yet it feels perhaps a bit too much, especially considering the panel in question shows cooked poultry and grapes rather than the aforementioned sandwich. It seems much more a parody of Dr. Doom rather than an actual characterization and the issue is a bit unclear on whether it is supposed to be just that.

What is clearer by a great deal is the talent of Michael Allred. Perhaps it’s because of his participation in the story itself, but the great pacing aforementioned earlier in this review is greatly helped by the excellent flow of the scenes through the panels. As said in nearly every review of FF, Mike Allred seems to be channeling the spirit of Kirby himself in those pages, as the kooky technology, the crazy ideas and colorful characters seem to be drawn in reference to his style, which is impressively apparent in the page featuring the children telling the ancient color code that permeated the ancient comics from the 60’s. It is still a modern comic though, as he create a mix of Kirby and his own style to create something unique, with the poses and expressions being more akin to Allred than Jack Kirby. Fraction may be gone, but Allred is still kicking in this issue.

The same could be said of Laura Allred, who does the colorization. It’s a tad chaotic, even cartoony at times, yet the diverse palette used throughout the issue really do help in grounding the general tone of each scene and the series in general. A fun comic deserves plenty of colors, which Laura Allred understand perfectly as she puts grey in and dull colors in the sad scenes, warm yet static colors when it comes to the villains and other such neat techniques, enhancing the already impressive visual of Mike in the process.

The Conclusion: Even though Fraction is gone, the fun still goes on in this title as Lee, Mike and Laura Allred give it their best shot to provide development and silliness in this issue.

Grade: B+

-Hugo Robberts Larivière

*If there are shojo anime versions of the Marvel characters in the Marvel universe, does it mean that the classic stories have been translated and marketed as cartoons in universe? Image the Dark Phoenix Saga, the Kree/Skrull War and the Infiniy Gauntlet as shojo, how bizarre would that be?