Fantastic Four #554 (Marvel – Millar / Hitch / Neary) – MARK MILLAR! BRYAN HITCH! Need we say more? All right, we will! Who is Mrs. Fantastic? And how will her return into Reed’s life rock comicdom’s First Family? Also, get ready to meet the Invisible Woman’s brand NEW super-team! This issue kicks off a year-long storyline that will make FANTASTIC FOUR “The World’s ULTIMATEST Comic Magazine!” Promise!
“New” as an adjective here, is quite an understatement when you are done checking out issue #553. Yes, it is a new creative team, which always brings a new direction and look for the characters. But the Millar / Hitch / Neary team has created something completely different here. I have been loving what McDuffie has been doing with the flagship FF book over the last year and was very skeptical of another set “big names” coming to fix a book and do nothing but drive it into the ground (Anyone reading Superman?)… but, in all truth, I am floored by the new Fantastic Four feel. I have got to break this down…
The characterizations are exactly what fans would expect but with a fresh feel and taste to them. Sue is getting together some of her female superhero friends to start a charity for victims of super-human crimes. Johnny wants in on the reality-rock star spotlight. Ben and Reed visit an elementary school where Reed bores them with physics and Ben is flirting with the teachers. The re-invention of these four characters within the framework of the established personailties is brilliant! In a recent interview with Wizard Magazine, Mark Millar described Reed Richards as the George Clooney of Marvel comics, and is writing the story with that in mind. Creative and fun! We have both a first grade teacher and Alyssa Moy (who has made an uber-hot return) vying for Reed’s attention in a post-civil-war-rocky-Richards-marriage landscape. All of the expertly written character interactions sum-mate into the plot-line of this story arc, the revealing of Earth-Trust. Earth-Trust is a secret organization who is creating an inter-dimensional artificial Earth in case our Earth gets destroyed.
The art is glorious! Hitch brings in all of his soft lines, facial features, panel-cinematography and amazing details that made him a commonly praised name among the geek nations to lay claim to the possible future title of having created the modern “classic” Fantastic Four look. But it’s just not he look of characters, it’s the look of the pages. No panel lines, or I should say invisible panel line gives a much better flow to the book than I would have thought possible. Not an ounce of space on any panel is wasted, there are details everywhere to help support the plot. Throw on top a new cover format and you have FF #554, a new geek beast standard!