Friendly Fascism Rears Its Ugly Head In Fantastic Four #15

by Oliver MacNamee

Fantastic Four #15 offers the readers a very different perspective to the one you may have expected after last issue’s blast off into space to look for adventure. Rather than follow the trajectory of the Fantastic Four we are introduced to the citizens of a new planet in the Marvel cosmos, Spyre, and their own super hero team the Unparralleled. To them, the FF are a prophecy come true. Saviours from the stars?

Of course, any adventure into space will always end up with some sort of showdown and the usual misunderstandings that always seem to spoil any first meeting super-humans have with other species, even when they look like us. But, that’s all subterfuge to the real threat that is hinted at heavily when we learn that the denizens of Spyre all accept that they will be paired off in marriage with a soul-mate chosen for them. And here was I thinking it was only certain religions that uphold this tradition here on Earth. Seems it’s not just an Earthly invention. But, it’s certainly what I would consider – in the context of this comic book, I hasten to add – a good example of the friendly fascism that’s seems to eminent from the Ben Kenobi-like mentor of Spyre, The Overseer, who seems to have a grip on this world. Even this world’s heroes are named by him and all seem to live in blissful ignorance due to the paradise-like nature of their lives.

We’ve met characters like this before, in comics and in the real world. The smiling dictator that everyone believes is benevolent when the opposite is often the case when the truth is finally revealed. Which, it will be, but not in this issue. When the the dusts settled, will the collective society of Spyre accept him, just as we seem to blindly accept our own would-be dictators? It’s clear that on this planet, like on ours, this powerful authoritarian figure controls the narrative and everyone else is happy to play along so long as they live in comfort.

Once again, Paco Medina – with help from Bob Q – gives this comic a real shine with fantastic artwork that gives the whole issue a dynamism that keeps the reader gripped from page to page. Again, as with Aaron Kuder, I can only hope that the Fantastic Four gets a regular artist of this quality. Although, they do seem to now have a regular artist on each story arc. That’s something.

Dan Slott continues to entertain with his scripts and sharp dialogue, bringing Marvel’s first family to life and not only relevant again, but adding back some of that sparkle Stan and Jack managed to reproduce every issue. Yes, Slott writes from the viewpoint of a fan (which writer doesn’t these days. right?), but it’s with a reverence for these people and it’s infectious. Just like he did on The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s also yet another book that wallows in the possibilities of the medium. Just like Stan and jack, Slott is creating a new age of aliens, heroes and villains that will last for a good while yet and be picked up by future writers just as Doom, Galactus and other Lee/Kirby creations are used today. 15 issues in and I imagine still ain’t seen nothin’ yet. But, what we have seen has been fantastic so far!

Fantastic Four #15 is available now from Marvel Comics.

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