X-Men/Fantastic Four: 4X – Chip Zdarsky, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson & Laura Martin (Marvel)

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There’s a point in every teenager’s life when they feel torn between what their family wants, what society expects from them and what they want, and 4X is the tale of how Franklin Richards faced, and overcame that dilemma. Pursued by Charles Xavier and Magneto to assume what they regard as his natural place among his “people” on Krakoa, while being reminded about the importance of family and his place in the Fantastic Four by his parents and teammates, who both try to plead their cases by assuring him that they find a way to restore his ailing powers, Franklin chooses to follow his heart and flee from his home, which leads him straight into the clutches of Doctor Doom. It’s a decision that leads to all-our war between the Fantastic Four, X-Men and Victor Von Doom who are all fighting for a young man’s future that he doesn’t want.  And, as with all conflicts, it doesn’t end,  how anyone thought, or hoped, it would.

Zdarsky’s story of Frankin’s quest to find his place in the world and the expectations of others that he finds himself caught between, and in, is a story that, that on an incredibly personal level, we can all relate too. We’ve all been where Franklin is, all been subject to the anger, confusion and desire to follow out our path regardless of what the rest of the world wants and what our families expect. Some of us are fortunate enough to find our own way, but most of us never manage to fully escape the weight of that expectation. 4X is an age old story that’s given a refreshing super-powered spin that thanks to the overt exploration of the personal and political agendas of all involved, highlights the importance of freewill  and our individual right to decide who we are and want to be.

 I’m a sucker for everything that Zdarsky writes. His storytelling always tackles world breaking subjects in an incredibly reflective way that embraces, and thrives thanks to, wonderful characterisation and dialogue, and by teaming with the artistic powerhouse partnership of Rachel and Terry Dodson and colourist extraordinaire Laura Martin, Marvel have created a superhero creative team for the ages. Oh, and the last four pages of this book will knock you for six, as they unveil a potential future that, while not unforeseen,  nobody ever imagined could, or might, eventually happen. Everything changes, and 4X is where it all starts…  Tim Cundle

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