Marvel 2-In-One #4 Review
It’s a Fantastic Four comic in every way but the name.
That’s the best way possible to describe Marvel 2-In-One, especially in this week’s #4. Written by Chip Zdarsky with art by Valerio Schiti and Frank Martin, the series features the two remaining F4 members, the Human Torch and the Thing, in their search for their lost family/teammates. This issue sees them beginning that search in earnest, leaping into the multiverse and into one of the best, and most F4-ish, new alternate Marvel universes seen in years.
Joined by morally dubious scientist Rachna Koul, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm utilize the Multisect, a device Reed invented and left for them, to travel to an alternate universe in search of Reed, Sue, their kids, and the rest of the missing Future Foundation. Tracing a signature energy tied to their mutual transformation, the fantastic trio enter a dark reflection of the classic Marvel universe where one singular variation produced a vastly different outcome for the Marvel heroes. But Ben and Johnny are ready to do what they do best and save the world, though that may be a tall order when they find out the true threat they face.
With a twist ending that will leave readers reeling, Marvel 2-In-One makes the case that it is a worthy placeholder for the eventual return of the Fantastic Four, and Chip Zdarsky is making the case that he’s the best choice to write it. Restraining his trademark sense of humor to only when it fits the scene, Zdarsky instead leans heavily into the kind of massive, imaginative storytelling that defines the Fantastic Four, and it is a wonder. By merging two of the biggest threats the team ever faced and extrapolating that out to its logical, if horrific, conclusion, Zdarsky has demonstrated why the F4 need to return, why the Marvel publishing line needs books like this that can push the boundaries of superhero storytelling to their sci-fi limits.
Of course, it helps that Zdarsky is joined by Valerio Schiti, who is able to make this mirror version of the Marvel Universe feel both familiar and fresh, with intuitive character designs and vibrant characterization. On his own, he renders everything, from the characters to the action, gorgeously, but, with Frank Martin’s coloring, the art hits another level of epicness, particularly when they access the Multiplane, a new nexus for the Multiverse. It’s a breathtaking page.
Something becomes clearer the longer this series goes: Marvel needs the Fantastic Four. It’s not hard to see the logic in taking them off the table when they did from a publishing standpoint (even if that wasn’t the only, or even prevailing, motivation). The title was floundering, and hadn’t had the best publishing streak over the preceding decade outside of books written by Jonathan Hickman. However, in a way, the time has been ripe for a fresh, vibrant, wondrous take on the team, more so than ever before. The market has embraced a broader range of titles than it has in recent years, and there is an opportunity to return to a modernized classic take that echoes the creative verve of the Lee/Kirby era. Zdarsky seems to agree, creating the closest thing to it Marvel will allow.
But they should just hurry up and bring back the Fantastic Four for real.