Fantastic Four #527–532 by J Michael Straczynski and Mike McKone
Welcome back to From A Library Week. Today is the collection of the first six issues of the Fantastic Four written by JMS. I looked in the book for the name of this collection but couldn’t find any indication of it – sounds like they’re trying to hide something … Is this supposed to be just called ‘Fantastic Four’, as if there was never a Fantastic Four comic before?
JMS seems to have the same attitude towards the Marvel comic books he has written – Dr Strange, Spider-Man – where he believes that he has the answer to the origins of the classic characters and retcons them to reflect some higher spiritual connection. In this collection, he now has the origin of the Fantastic Four linked to the creation of the universe itself, helping the universe to create itself and then return the favour. It is the most incredibly annoying, smug and conceited storytelling I have read in a long time.
It’s not all about a totally unnecessary retooling of one of the most pure and classic modern origins. He balances this with making Ben Grimm rich (even though all members of the FF weren’t poor to begin with) and having Sue Richards investigated by the social services for putting the children in trouble – oh, the relevancy! It’s all rather depressing – I’ll stick with his Rising Stars and Midnight Nation creations rather than his ridiculous ‘reimaginings’.
It’s not all awful – Mike McKone’s artwork keeps the interest visually. His style seems softer than when I first saw it way back when, which doesn’t seem completely in synch with the hard sci-fi concept of the Fantastic Four, but his strong storytelling abilities help proceedings move along smoothly (although he does skimp on the backgrounds in places). But there’s only so much he can do with the writing on display here – thank goodness JMS didn’t stay around for long.