FF by Jonathan Hickman Volume 3 Review

FF by Jonathan Hickman Volume 3 Review

This volume is the newest collection of Jonathan Hickman’s brilliant FF series, collecting issues #12-16. This is not the most accessible of stories, however, as it’s steeped in continuity, as it reaches the conclusion to the mega story that Hickman started writing and putting together when he wrote the Dark Reign: Fantastic Four mini-series, just prior to taking on writing chores for the Fantastic Four. Unlike the first two trades of this title, this is a much more difficult read in some ways, because when these issues were being published, they were coming out the same time, roughly, as the corresponding issues of Fantastic Four, which had returned to the stands with issue #600. As such, you’re not getting the full story, in terms of the entire epic, but you are getting the majority of the story which actually pertains to the children of the Future Foundation. The first issue of this collection makes little sense, however, if you haven’t read issue #600 of Fantastic Four, as the events of that issue launch the story that is contained within these pages into action. Hickman’s plotting is fantastic, as the threads that comprised his entire run on FF/Fantastic Four came together in a flurry of larger than life ideas. When I recommend this trade paperback, I can’t stress enough how important it is to read Fantastic Four #600 first, and to also stop reading after issue #15, and read the rest of the Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Volume 5 collection before finishing out this volume. The story will make much more sense that way. To be honest, I’m surprised that both titles weren’t collected concurrently in one big trade paperback. Yes, it would have broken up the narrative a bit in each story, but there were also benefits to reading the two series side by side, to see how they complemented each other, even as they told different parts of the mega story.

FFFFF.jpgHickman’s scripting is masterful, and in my opinion, I think the writing on FF was superior than his writing on Fantastic Four at the same exact time. As much as I loved all the disparate elements of his run coming together, it was the storylines that culminated in this title that I enjoyed the most, as the storyline of the Bridge and the Council of Reeds reaches a conclusion, bringing evil Celestials into the regular universe. The story of Franklin and Valeria is enthralling, as Valeria works to prolong events that are going to happen by a matter of minutes, to help save the world. Franklin prepares for the part he is to play in the drama, Nathaniel Richards helps move pieces into place, and Doctor Doom plays his part willingly, and embraces his own destiny, and the gift at the end of the road.

The artwork by Bobillo and Dragotta is extremely expressive, but it will come as quite the stylistic shock to those who’ve read the first two FF collections. With the return of Fantastic Four, it took the premiere artists who had been illustrating FF, and left behind artists who have a very different style of artwork. Although it originally threw me off, with time I came to really enjoy the detail in the artwork, how it DID possess a different sensibility, and absolutely nailed the high drama and excitement of the showdown on The Bridge. Both artists bring different qualities to the book, along with different highs and lows, but overall present a great illustrated take on the script that Hickman put together.

This is a great read, and for fans of Jonathan Hickman it should not be missed. This is a tremendous read, and this is where Hickman’s mega story reaches part of its conclusion (with the other half being in the recently released Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Volume 5 collection). Highly Recommended!

Fantastic Four Volume 5 Review

Fantastic Four Volume 5 Review

When Fantastic Four #588 ended the series, I figured it was only a matter of time, or rather 11 issues, until Fantastic Four #600 would hit the shelves of my local comic book store, and restore the Fantastic Four name. What I didn’t expect, however, was that FF would continue onwards from that point, after 11 issues where it was the only Fantastic Four-related comic book in town. Hickman wisely decided to take his mega epic and split it up, so that the Future Foundation parts of the story were relegated to the FF book, and the rest was confined to the Fantastic Four book. In both cases, the larger story comprised story elements that had been building up over the last few years, but were more manageable from a storytelling perspective split up. This collection features Fantastic Four #600-604, and although it has a relatively steep price tag for 5 issues, readers should keep in mind that issue #600 was a massive affair when it was originally published, with a packed lead story, as well as a variety of back-up stories.

This collection starts with issue #600, which spins the Future Foundation characters into their adventure that is chronicled in the recently released FF by Jonathan Hickman Volume 3. Issue #600 is a bit of a start and stop affair, as there are a few stories which put a bunch of pieces into position. This collection is a more action-oriented affair compared to the FF issues which were published at the same time, as they were more of a complex science fiction affair. Not having the FF issues integrated into this trade paperback doesn’t hurt the flow of this story as much as it does when reading the FF Volume 3 collection that omits Fantastic Four #600, although you are missing an aspect of the story (and after the Future Foundation kids disappear in issue #600, you might wonder just what happens to them next). This volume is high action, as the Annihilation Wave erupts from the Negative Zone under surprising leadership, the Kree Empire attacks, the Inhumans return to Earth, Galactus gets involved, and two visitors from the future arrive to save the day just in the nick of time. The scripting is phenomenal, as Hickman proves he’s just as adept at scripting high-octane, high-stakes action as he is engrossing science fiction.

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There are a variety of artists who contribute to the issues collected here, as Epting and Kitson do most of the art chores, with a number of artists contributing to the smaller back-up stories that were featured in Fanastic Four #600. Kitson’s artwork is great looking, but Epting’s work makes it pale in comparison, which is saying something.

This is a terrific volume, boasting truly fantastic work from the creative team (pun intended). This is a most satisfactory conclusion to the grand Fantastic Four/FF epic that Hickman started with Dark Reign: Fantastic Four, and shouldn’t be missed. Highly Recommended!

 

New Avengers #1 Review

New Avengers #1 Review

I was not following the New Avengers series before the Marvel Now reboot, so I’m not sure how much has changed from the previous storyline alluded to on the first page. It’s a pretty intense page though and sounds pretty out of character for these heroes who generally know better than to meddle with such power. Jonathan Hickman has already done interesting things with the main Avengers reboot so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes with the “New” Avengers.

This issue focuses heavily on three Wakandians (Wakandites? Citizens of Wakanda!) partaking in a ritual game to find this generations “Makers”, who are later joined by the Black Panther. There are only brief mentions of other Avengers though I’m sure that will change in future issues. These three bright youths have succeeded in their tasks and are about to be presented with a planet to shape however they deem fit. They are literally to become makers of worlds, a pretty far out concept even for the technologically advanced Wakanda. I love that this remote African city’s oft overlooked background of science and spirituality is the central focus so far. Hickman explored it well during his run on the Fantastic Four/FF so it’s really exciting that he’ll continue to build on it in this book.

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Of course, things go terribly wrong for these newly anointed Makers when a portal suddenly appears nearby. Black Panther steps through to investigate and is transported to what seems to be a different world. It’s topographically similar to Earth but with a magenta hued sky and an Earth-like planet looming large on the horizon. The big bad is soon revealed to be Black Swan, but whether she is in any way related to Gail Simone’s Black Swan created for the Deadpool series is unclear. Despite Black Panther’s request that they remain where they are, the triad of Makers follows him there and are attacked by Black Swan’s minions.

There’s a brief conversation between Black Panther and Black Swan “that doesn’t mean anything” in Black Panther’s own words. That goes for readers too as her explanations of an incursion and the great destroyer doesn’t make a lot of sense. Is she talking about Terminus? He recently lost his powers in a fight against Spider-Man and Alpha so that seems unlikely. It’s a somewhat unsatisfying issue in that it raises so many questions without answering any, but I think it has the potential to become a great book.

 

 

Avengers #1 Review

Avengers #1 Review

I enjoyed Avengers #1 and thought it was a great standalone issue. The fact that it was very much a continuation of the Avengers movie wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because the movie was great. My only concern is that tying in comics to a movie will eventually backfire when the films don’t quite hit the mark like The Avengers did. Even though comic book movies are becoming more common, The Avengers was an anomaly in that it brought out the best of every character involved and kept true to the Marvel mythos overall. Not all films are as accurate or approach these characters cherished by fans with such respect. But that’s for future Nicole to worry about so let’s focus on the here and now.

Jonathan Hickman has started off the series strong with an Avengers team lineup that moviegoers will recognize, but added ininteresting new baddies that are also a serious threat to Earth. They’re engrossing villains because they truly think they’re doing what’s best for the universe, even though there’s some dissent among them as to how to achieve their goals. Historically, the most interesting villains never see themselves as such, and that’s definitely the case here.

It’s a poetic issue with a strong narrative interspersed with great chunks of dialogue. The banter between Tony and Steve particularly made me smile and unsurprisingly, the man who managed to give voice to the Fantastic Four and their Future Foundation in a way no one else had really done before, managed to give each character in this title a distinct identity. Not a new identity; Hickman just brought out the core of what their characters should be/are known for. Mix that with what seems to be an ongoing font of intriguing ideas from this writer and I’m down for Hickman’s Avenger’s ride.

Although the letters section at the end of the issue already mentioned other featured artists to come for this title, I thought Jerome Opeña’s art with Dean White’s colours were spectacular together and could easily run the entire series. They give the book a softer toneoverall without diminishing any action-packed panels. There was also an excellent use of white space in the title pages of this issue, particularly powerful when paired with White’s lush colour work. It draws focus to the creative team/characters involved and feels very cinematic.

Although this isn’t my favourite #1 issue of the Marvel NOW! titles, there’s a lot of potential with this creative team and I really believe Hickman will make this the book to follow out of all the new series’.

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