With the Fantastic Four Wedding Special out last week and the wedding issue itself out this week, we have been spoilt by Dan Slott and his ever-changing artistic team as they catch up with the monthly schedule that slipped after only the first issue, but has more than been made up for in recent months. Hats off, then, to everyone involved with this relaunch of Marvel’s first family and especially with issue #5, which is not only a stellar line up of artists (Adam Hughes, Michael Allred, and Aaron Kuder as the FF’s ongoing regular artist) but an equally stellar story too.
Not only are we given the completion of one of Marvel’s longest running and most endearing of romances, but it’s an issue that fizzes with fun, friendly banter and barbs that you could only get away with when it’s people you love, and will, no doubt, bring a smile to your face. It glows with humour bit also with warmth too. After reading this issue, I am even more happy to see Marvel’s Crown Jewels in the hands of Dan Slott.
Slott has done absolute wonders with this particular issue as he revisits the the past and remixes it somewhat to give us a retelling of the Fantastic Four’s origins (made more poignant given the recent passing of Stan Lee) that not only better reflects today’s sensibilities but suggests that Ben Grimm, rather than Reed Richards, could very well have won over Sue’s affections back in the day. Here in this issue, we are given a similar situation in the present day, with Reed once again seemingly obsessed with some science experiment or other rather than with his family and friends, and Ben’s upcoming nuptials. But, even that is explained away in a satisfactory ending by the end of this issue. Phew. For a moment I thought Reed had learnt nothing during his time away from Earth. Nicely played, Slott, nicely played.
There are a number of vignettes in this oversized anniversary issue, with each building to the big day itself, that gets even bigger than they had planned when a certain unexpected guest crashes the festivities with some rather sobering news. Each story, with a different art team, makes this feel like the special issue it should be. Last week we had Alicia’s hen night, and so its only fair we see The Thing’s own big night out with the boys. And, having seen both, I know which one I’d rather have been at.
Once again Slott shows himself to be a great master of ceremonies in playing with tropes we are all aware of and cherish, if we’re honest. Particularly the inevitability of ‘shenanigans’ occurring whenever a member of the super human community gets married. So, no costumes, no heroes; just family. How he allows this one to play out is but one example of the fun Slott brings every month to any book he works on. He’s been waiting a loooonnnggg time for this gig, so I expect far more to come.
There aren’t many big marriages in comics and certainly not ones as big as this one, and Slott delivers a story and a comic that is reverential to the past, while plotting the future of this team, too. How he will make his inevitable, indelible mark on the history of the FF will have to be decided in the years to follow, but in marrying The Thing and Alicia (finally!) and introducing a very Whovian headquarters, he’s making a good start. To be accompanied by stone-cold legends of the comic world in Adam Hughes and Michael Allred elevates this book even higher in my humble opinion. It’s a comic for the ages, I reckon.
With the inclusion of the Stan Lee tribute all Marvel Comic are wearing this month, this is a book that is a joyous occasion, but one that you may well reflect on, too. Stan Lee gave the world so much, and it all started with these guys. A family of adventurers and heroes who prove that marriage within the superhero community can sell. Especially as there’s now one more to add too.
Here’s to ya, the bride and groom! Mazel tov!
Fantastic Four #5 is available now from Marvel.