Fantastic Four #2 // Review
After the sweet-but-anticlimactic first issue, Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli’s new Fantastic Four gets an injection of big superhero action in its second outing, while finally bringing us to the reunion of the titular first family--with an unexpected twist. Aided on inks by Elisabetta D’Amico and colored by Marte Gracia, with lettering by VC’s Joe Caramagna, readers are brought up to speed on the Future Foundation’s work restoring the multiverse and introduced to a brand new multiversal threat in the form of Entropy.
Mirroring last issue, which focused on Ben and Johnny on Earth and ending with a moment from Reed and Sue, the second issue focuses on Reed, Sue, Franklin, Valeria, and the rest of the Future Foundation, who have been missing since the end of Secret Wars, with the ending returning to Ben and Johnny and where readers saw them last issue. In this chapter, Franklin reaches the end of his multiversal creation efforts, which has surprising and dire consequences for the team of explorers. It seems that the FF’s efforts have upset the balance in the universe, and the new villain Entropy is looking to restore it--by destroying everything Franklin, Owen Reece, and the rest of the FF have built, as well as the team itself. Massively outclassed by this god-level being, Reed and Sue make a “Hail Mary” play, manipulating Entropy and reaching out to their earthbound teammates in the hopes that reinforcements will change the game. But, of course, Reed has a trick up his sleeve.
A vastly different affair tonally than last issue, this one leans into the big exploration and superheroing elements that fans have come to expect from a Fantastic Four story. Slott also uses the opportunity of the characters absence to age and mature Franklin and Valeria, with Franklin solidly in his teen years and Valeria a developing preteen. He also proves, quickly, that he is willing to tear down the previous status quo, with Entropy killing off a major FF member moments after she attacks the team. This isn’t the subtle, character-driven affair of last issue, but, instead, a breakneck cosmic tale of massive stakes against a unthinkably powerful foe. The way he connects this plot thread to the previous issue is a fun and unexpected move, setting up the breathtaking cliffhanger. However, the issue doesn’t leave a ton of room for characterization, particularly for the rest of the FF, with a fan-favorite member not even getting any dialogue in the issue. Further, the ideas for the worlds Franklin made are not as explosively creative as one would hope, which does lead to some doubt for Slott to live up the expectation of the title, but there is certainly still room for him to turn that perception around.
Sara Pichelli delivers as always, with great endearing designs for the team, aging and changing the team to reflect the years they’ve been gone. She also creates an effectively menacing design for Entropy, though it is hardly the most unique or iconic one. The action is frenetic, compelling, and easy to follow, even as if it involves a chase across multiple alternate universes. This title lets Pichelli show off a side of her art that hasn’t been seen as much, but she executes all of the cosmic craziness with aplomb. The inks, by Pichelli and Elisabetta D’Amico, can be a little sketchy sometimes, but is never confusing or muddy. Marte Garcia is the real star on the visuals this issue, with stunning and extreme color choices that fit perfectly with the otherworldly setting of the story.
Last issue, for all its strengths, felt like a letdown, since the promise of the tile was not met. This one is not nearly as emotionally evocative, and doesn’t display the same deep affection for the characters, but it pays off the expectations of the readers in a satisfying way while still having some fun surprises. The cliffhanger sets up a potentially explosive next issue, one that is sure to bring readers back to find out what happens next.