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It seems like the lead -up to the final issue of Fantastic Four has been underrepresented around these parts. It’s hard to see why either, they’ve have about three “final issues” in around as many years. So, Marvel is saying that it’s ending “for real” this time – big whoop. Let’s see what the company line is after Secret Wars. Yet, let’s see what they’ve cooked up in #643.
James Robinson’s Fantastic Four run hasn’t really impressed. It doesn’t really bode well when you start out with yet ANOTHER “the fantastic four break up” story, and one that really tries to go for the full hog. Unless it’s a limited series/mini it always feels shallow and despite some entertaining moments not even Robinson could escape that particular pitfall. There just wasn’t enough energy to carry it through.
I personally know quite a few fans who gave up on the run due to the rather uninspired nature of the opening arc, and I don’t quite blame them. The “but” comes in here due to how surprisingly entertaining the second arc “Back In Blue” (or “The End Is Fourever”) has actually turned out. It gets much more to the heart of the franchise.
Has it (and by extension this issue) been perfect? No. The bridge between tone and content is still a bit off. Robinson is going for a breezy, light-hearted, adventurous send-off and the events in the story-arc is not quite there yet. Of course this is a problem that has been improving ever issue – and this one is the best so far. We get a lot of character and a lot of fun.
There is a slight pleasure gained from seeing Reed play the incredulous, snarky, hostage and Robinson has written the role as played to the hilt. It’s fine to show Reed be proactive, but when he verbally disarms a villain is when he gets to show off his versatile mind. The other characters are no slouches either – and we get a cap-off to Bentley’s character arc that far outshines Hickman’s own version.
There’s parts that still don’t quite gel – there is a needlessly bloated segment with Sleepwalker, and this all doesn’t really feel like the end of an era. It’s a nice story arc, but it has the tone of a back to basics more so than something that is winding down. The art by Leonard Kirk is on form for something as upbeat, but overall I hope that the final two issues figure out more places to go on the road to the ending. Comments and thoughts would be appreciated below.