It’s a story that all comic book fans know: Four people go up to space on an experimental rocket where they are bombarded with cosmic rays. When they crash down to Earth, each of the four display a multitude of super abilities. They decide to band together for the betterment of humanity and call themselves the Fantastic Four. Fantastic Four: Life Story #1 kicks off a new take on Marvel’s first family.
The Fantastic Four have such a classic origin story. Why even tinker with it? That’s the question I was left with after reading this. I am not sure if this is meant to be canon within the Marvel U or what. With this latest rehash of Marvel’s first family’s origin, things are expanded in ways that sometimes just feel a bit unnecessary. I don’t want to nitpick everything because it’s not fair to the creative team and, to be honest, I’m a huge fan of the FF, going back to when I was a kid. They were one of the first Marvel books I picked up. Is it a case of me being too much of a fan and not wanting to accept change? Is it just a mediocre attempt at looking at the Fantastic Four in the 1960s?
Mark Russell’s update of the FF sees them being the fourth group to try and reach space. Reed meets with President Kennedy. Also present is Dr. Jones, another big-mind who ends up being passed on time after time due to Reed’s intellect and approach. The entire project shuts down and Reed is left to assemble a team and sneak a rocket up into space. With some minor tweaks, the FF is born from the flight, and Reed is left with a shocking vision from space, one of a devourer of worlds being out there.
So it falls to me to be a fan that can’t get past certain things. I just don’t like quite a few of the retcons thrown into this. It’s still not a bad book and I think someone new to the characters might get enjoyment from it. As a reviewer and a long-time fan, there’s a part of me that wants to chalk it up to not being the best story but I really think it comes down to just being an older fan set in his ways with these characters. And for a team of adventurers who’ve had the stories they’ve had, there’s not a whole lot of action within this book. Maybe one of the biggest problems I had with this is that going through the FF’s 1960 adventures, we got the mole man and a glimpse of Galactus and…that’s kinda it. No Doom, no Namor, no Frightful Four, or even the discovery of the Inhumans.
That said, I think one of Mark Russell’s strength’s is dialogue and there were a few times in this book where I really liked what was said. Reed’s 1967 answer to the question of the existence of aliens really stood out to me. And I did like Dr. Jones and the way he was woven into their history in key moments.
Life Story does have consistent good art throughout the issue. Sean Izaakse and Nolan Woodard do some solid work on this book. I really liked the colors throughout this issue and that can certainly go a long way. Like I said in my critique of the writing, there’s not a lot of action here so there’s not a bunch of cool-looking scenes of the FF’s adventures but Izaakse and Woodard make a lot of pages of people talking look pretty good.
Am I too hard? Am I too much of a fan of the Fantastic Four, unable to budge? Probably that’s the case. That said, I still found some enjoyment in this and it was way better than the Ultimate version from the early 2000s.
Story: Mark Russell Art: Sean Izaakse
Color: Nolan Woodard Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.5
Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review