by Matt Fraction, Lee Allred (Writers), Michael Allred (Artist), Laura Allred (Colorist)
The Story: Scott Lang gives a good speech, along with a beating, to Doom in order to remind him how much he sucks. After that, it’s BBQ time!
The Review: It’s always hard to see something beloved go. Many series never get the chance to reach the ending their designated writers and artists have in mind for them, which is always a sad thing to see. Winter Soldier, Dial H, Journey Into Mystery and countless others have received the short end of the stick in this matter, which makes it always a bit infuriating for those who were eager to support them.
However, there are also the rare book that naturally end, with the story simply concluding for actual reasons instead of sales or unpopularity. While it is equally sad to see those go as well, there’s always a certain feeling of satisfaction at seeing something reach the ending the creators had in mind. This is the case of such works like Uncanny X-Force and now FF, with the kooky adventures of the teachers and students of the future foundation finally reaching the point where their journey went full circle. However, while it it’s all nice and good that this series end on its own merit, is the conclusion actually satisfactory?
There could have been some missteps, but in a positively surprising manner, this story hits close to all the notes in a way that manage to give readers and fans most of everything they could have hoped for and perhaps a little more. With the story divided in two segments, there is a clear disparity in the tones of each scenes, yet it all adds up to the general themes of the book in a way that feels not only natural, but earned.
The first scene, which focus on Scott Lang against Doom, is simply spectacular. While I can count myself amongst the many fans of Victor Von Doom, there is an inherent sincerity and an incredible amount of pathos to the general beating, both morally and physically, that Scott Lang gives to the rather malevolent dictator of Latveria. The manner in which Scott not only has its revenge, but does so in a way that does not feel discrediting to his character and his relationship to other characters that he loves, makes for perhaps one of the more memorable scenes featuring Dr. Doom in a long time. The speech, ringing not only true but thoroughly honest, manage to make everything about a simple man that has a costume themed around ants into a true hero in many ways.
Still, another area where Lee Allred and Matt Fraction are rather impressing is in how they are able to have many different presentations in the same issue, with pseudo-science, action, heartfelt moments, humor and everything in-between that makes this package feel complete and satisfying. The way Uatu explains how Scott Lang perfected the use of Pym particles, how it all entails those that are connected to them and how it could change the face of science in the Marvel universe is nothing short of extraordinary, adding a layer of complexity to another bunch of characters without making it seem too complicated or too far-fetched.
Still, even without the addition to the Marvel universe, the issue still shine in the second part of the issue, focusing on the returned Fantastic Four and the barbeque they are holding on the moon for everyone. Presenting everyone involved in the story and concluding their general arc, both Lee and Fraction never forget the general craziness that made this series so easy to love in the first place. The Silver Surfer discovering hot-dogs, the moloid kids wishing that Ben Grimm and Jennifer Walters would hook up, Reed Richards being impressed by Scott Lang and his spontaneous discovery and so forth makes up for a lot of rather amusing and entertaining moments. Never making a travesty of their characterization, it is precisely because it is true to everyone’s character that the actions and reactions manage to be so fun to begin with.
Perhaps the single weak spot of the whole issue revolves around Ravonna, a character that does not add up much to the general feeling of the story. While she has been instrumental to the plot, some of the buildup around the character has not been completely resolved and explained in FF, which makes some of her actions and some of her scenes a tad confusing and unfulfilling for those mostly reading about the students and teachers of the future foundation.
Still, it is but a single weakness in the sea of excellence offered by this issue, which Mike Allred is a proud part of. The way he interpret fast-paced action, earnest emotions and the crazier elements are simply majestic here, with the fight of Doctor Doom against Scott Lang being something that might be highly remembered thanks to his contribution. However, where he seems to be at the top of his game is when he experiments with the comic, which he does quite a lot here. Showing a graph, using silhouettes and a certain minimalistic approach in the grandest moments makes this issue a true gem visually, with a fast-paced affair without being over too quickly, with excitement combined with a certain introspective touch that never lets go after the first page.
The colorization of Laura Allred is also magnificent, playing with intensely primary colors in some of the bigger scenes, emphasising some of the brutality very well without using only this technique. The diversity on display and the way she makes the colors fits with each scenes without disrespecting the tone of the book is very well done, as she does so while still having a clear eye for contrasts. It is not the whole book that is impossibly great, of course, yet there is a certain consistent quality to the book in terms of colors that is hard to miss.
The Conclusion: Hitting close to every notes it needs to as well as some others, this finale delivers on the fun, the action and the general craziness that made this title so enjoyable to begin with. Heartfelt, fun and with killer art to boot, this finale as delivered by Fraction and the Allred family is a shining example on how to close a series.
Hugo Robberts Larivière