Monday, January 12, 2009

Comic du jour: Fantastic Four #562 (Feb. 2009)

I don't know why the run by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch on this title is not getting more attention, because it's one of the most polished, pretty and interesting superhero comics out there right now.

This particular issue is a good example, even though it's an issue that bridges the previous "Death of the Invisible Woman" arc and whatever comes up next. The bridging issue is the sort of thing we used to see a lot of in the 1980s (which for many of us was the last time we could keep track of Marvel continuity without a scorecard), especially in books like The Uncanny X-Men. Perhaps I'm just nostalgic, but it speaks to a certain degree of continuity that has been lacking in superhero comics, which these days tend to lurch from arc to arc, with dramatic shifts in tone and style coming every time the creative team changes.

Bryan Hitch shows why he's so great on this book, delivering an art job that delivers in storytelling, design, emotion and realism. His portrayals of the FF team have been incredibly consistent, and no one since Kirby (OK, maybe Byrne at his best) has been able to create settings as perfectly suited to the cosmic tone of the title. These settings look like set designs — you can see the movie practically unfold before you. Lots of artists attempt this, but Hitch here is as close to cinematic as I've seen in a long time.

And Millar is no slouch either. The guts of this tale involve the funeral for the Invisible Woman (I won't spoil it with an explanation — go get the back issues or the hardcover if you want to find out what's going on) and a conversation between Dr. Doom and Reed Richards that is cool, in character and a lot of fun to read.

So, yeah, the first big complaint is going to be that this comic doesn't come out on time, every time. But it's worth the extra time and is, at least so far, nowhere near as late as Ultimates and Ultimates 2 became. It's also completely self-contained and is exactly the sort of thing that I would love to see more of from Marvel and DC.

1 comment:

kilmoonie said...

The first arc stumbled. I especially hated the inclusion of the entire Marvel Universe in it, just to be thrown aside, but maybe that's a personal take since we had just seen the entire Marvel Universe in the crossovers, that it would have been nice to JUST get the Fantastic Four. But the Hitch art was top notch.

Second storyline and beyond has been really good though. I don't know that Fantastic Force needs its own title, but other that, good stuff.

JR