Fantastic Four: Fourever – Dan Slott, Sara Pichelli, Simone Bianchi, Skottie Young, Nico Leon & Stefano Caselli (Panini / Marvel)

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While it feels like a lifetime since Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny were together battling all sorts of villainous types and nefarious ner’do wells, in reality it’s been around the same amount of time as the gestation period of a big screen superhero extravaganza since they last fought side by side. Although, if time were measured in cups of coffee consumed while muttering “For Stan’s sake, will someone just bring the Fantastic Four already”, we’d be looking a couple of millennia and some spare change since the Baxter Building quartet last suited up and saved reality from whatever was threatening it that week. So, thank whichever deity pulls the strings at Marvel Headquarters for answering the collective prayers of fandom, because the Fantastic Four are back and their future is in the hands of the one and only, fresh off his awe inspiring run on Spider-Man, Dan Slott.

Reviving popular characters and teams and propelling them back to the forefront of the world that they were such a vital component of requires both a dextrous and creative imagination and master teller of tales, which happily Dan Slott has and is.  Leaping straight into the void, Slott doesn’t bother with any needless exposition and begins by examining the impact that Reed, Sue and the Future Foundation’s disappearance had, and continues to have on the remaining half of the team before answering the question that was on every fans lips. Where did Reed and Sue go? Turns out that following the whole collapse of the multiverse scenario, they set off to rebuild what had been lost and with a little help from their kids and students, they did just that. They rebuilt the multiverse and began exploring it, one planet and one Universe at a time, putting science and their immediate family first for once. It was an idyllic existence for them, or it was until it was threatened with complete destruction by the manifestation of Entropy who pops up to remind Reed, Sue and company of a couple of universal constants that they’d chosen to either forget or ignore. That nothing lasts forever and everything has it’s time. With their new lives, and everything that they’ve built in danger, the missing half of the team, in their hour of need, call on their old colleagues to help them out which sets the necessary gears and wheels in motion to get the band back together again.

Fourever is everything that you could want from a Fantastic Four story. It’s fast, clever, it’s packed full of the sort of science stuff that only Reed understands and that makes you head hurt if you think about it too much and enough superhero action to please the most fervent fans of the four. And thanks to the combined talents of Pichelli, Bianchi, Leon, Caselli and Young, Fourever is also visually stunning. Some of the dialogue is a little too syrupy and sugar sweet for my taste, but I understand why it’s necessary, as Slott uses it to hammer home the importance of the one aspect that differentiates and separates the Fantastic Four from every other team in superheroville; family.  They’re a family and that idea is central to, and lies at the core of, Fourever so I get why at times it feels like Slott pounds it into the every page of the book, because he needs to make sure that it’s reinforced in the minds of his audience and that, for the time being at least, it becomes an unshakeable constant. He needs his audience to believe in it completely, because somewhere down the line, that set up is going pay dividends when he tears it down and watches with glee while fandom goes into a global meltdown* and is overcome by mass hysteria and outrage. Change is coming**, and it’s going to crack the foundations of the Marvel Universe apart when it finally arrives. But for now at least, sit back, relax, and revel in and enjoy the return of the Fantastic Four… Tim Cundle

*And when it happens, I’ll just say “I told you so”

**It’s going to happen, with the volume of pieces and potential futures and storylines put into play in Fourever, it’s inevitable. Change is coming…

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