The Prodigal Sun: Fantastic Four #1 // Review
Every once in a while, Marvel or DC decide to add a new character to the proverbial toy box. Many times, the character shows up with no fanfare and often vanishes into the toy box compared to the A and B list characters. Sometimes, though, Marvel does a few special issues to introduce the hero or villain. Usually, these characters are the focal point of a massive event, like the Beyonder from Secret Wars, or a bunch of new heroes like in DC’s ill-fated Bloodlines event from the 1990s. This time around, Marvel has tasked an all-star team of writers to introduce a new character, and his name is Prah’D’Gul!
Or Prodigal, as no one can pronounce proper guttural stops.
Helming The Prodigal Sun: Fantastic Four is Peter David as head writer. Francesco Manna is the artist, while Espen Grundetjern colors the pages. Cory Petit letters the pages as well.
The Fantastic Four are called by eternal Tarzan Expy Ka-Zar, of the Savage Land. A mysterious being has crashed in the Savage Land (of course) from another land and is wreaking havoc with the normal balance of power. Can the Fantastic Four tackle a foe of unknown strength and abilities while trying not to make a mess of things?
Peter David and Francesco Manna are strong together. David brings both whimsy and a world-weary sarcasm to the story with occasional narration by Ka-Zar himself. Splash pages bring a sense of drama but are balanced out with a sense of humor that feels unique to David’s work. Prah’D’Gul feels like a lost Jack Kirby creation run through the filter of a modern sense of design and modern type of character, and it works for the book. Peter David also has a great sense of who the Fantastic Four are and seems to know what to do with the characters in combat. It’s a shame that David hasn’t been given a shot at the main Fantastic Four book (though he has written an original novel and novelized the first Fox movie).
Francesco Manna’s art is impressive. As mentioned above, Prah’D’Gul looks impressive even when life decides to knock him off his high horse. Manna also seems to love the setting of the Savage Land, taking great joy in drawing dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes, especially the T-Rex. It’s remarkably hard to find any flaws with the issue, aside from those new to the Savage Land may be off-put by the bizarre clash of ancient and super-science… but such is the Savage Land.
As there are two more chapters to this story, featuring the Silver Surfer in issue 2, and the Guardians of the Galaxy in issue 3, the fact that this book features little of who Prah’D’Gul is beyond his actions isn’t as bothersome as it could be. The fact that Peter David is also working on those issues provides the bonus that, no matter how bizarre Prah’D’Gul may become as a character, it will at least be mostly consistent.
While far from a done-in-one story, this is a fantastic tale for Fantastic Four and Ka-Zar fans. Prah’D’gul’s misadventures are amusing, and the next two issues look promising. Pick this comic up, and you won’t be disappointed.