Continuing the ‘not a reboot’ reboot that is Marvel NOW!, the first issue of FF, came out Wednesday, and I have to admit to mixed feelings. For those of you not familiar with FF, the titular initials stand for Future Foundation, which is essentially a school for the gifted, the disenfranchised, and the chosen students of Reed Richards, the Foundation formed after the death of Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch in issue #587 of The Fantastic Four. Of course, Johnny came back by issue #600, surprising no one, especially since there was no body found, and as all of us know, in comic books ‘no body, no death.’ With such diverse members as Leech and Artie, fan favorite Morlocks, to new creations like Bentley-23, the clone of super villain The Wizard, as well as long time super children Alex Power of Power Pack, and the Richards own children, the hyper intelligent Valeria and her big brother Franklin, considered the most evolved mutant in all of the Marvelverse, the Future Foundation brought back the spirit of science and exploration that was what made the story of the Fantastic Four so much more than just another group of super heroes.
But then came AvX, and everything changed for the Marvelverse, and in the wake of these events and their aftermath, Reed Richards decided to take his family on a vacation out of time, out of space, out of reality, because, you know, when you’re as smart a guy as he is, that has Disney World beat all to hell. But, with a foresight uncommon in comic book characters, Reed, despite scheduling the time warping trip to last only four minutes of “real world continuity,” calls in replacements to run the school. Reed chooses Scott Lang, the Ant-Man, still grieving the loss of his daughter Cassie during The Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade, because of his intelligence. Sue picks Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans, because of her compassion, as she too is a mother. Ben invites She-Hulk for her strength. And, Johnny invites the very human Darla Deering because… well, he was sleeping with her at the time and forgot what he was supposed to be doing. Together, these four are going to be in charge of a school full of super smart, slightly strange children.
Clearly, nothing will go wrong with this, right?
Issue One is a fairly standard intro issue, with the conceit of the children giving reality show style confession booth interviews to catch us all up to speed. Franklin’s bored horseplay during Valeria’s long winded introduction, and the revelation by the four evolved Moloids Korr, Mik, Turg and Tong that all things are to serve The Ben, were my personal favorites. The writing is entertaining and fun, with lots of the clever wordplay that I’ve come to expect from Matt Fraction, and it’s pretty solid a jumping off point if you haven’t been as diligent in your Marvel reading as you should be. Fraction is a long time favorite of mine, with a witty writing style coupled with a cleverness that is beyond the normal scattered quips of many a writer. I recommend 2007′s The Five Fists of Science, a steampunk-y adventure that has Nikola Tesla, Mark Twain and Baroness von Suttner using science and imagination to stop Thomas Edison, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and Guglielmo Marconi from summoning demons to eat New York. You read that right. Yeah, you read that right. Go get it, NOW, I say.
So where are my mixed feelings?
The art. I hate Michael Allred’s pop art style. It looks to me like those Roy Lichtenstein comic book prints, where some dotted girl whines about some first world problem like too much foam in her Caffè macchiato. His people seem to have nothing in their heads, dead eyed and blank expressioned, and why is everyone wearing thick black eye liner. Yes it’s crisp, and yes it’s clean but it’s also boring. Hell, half the panels have no backgrounds. It takes me out of the story and I just keep expecting to see Doop show up.
I swear this on my mother’s grave (she’s still alive), that if Doop appears anywhere, I will burn this place to the ground. Keep testing me, Marvel, keep testing me.
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist & Cover: Michael Allred