Fantastic Four #31 is another family focussed one-off issue full of the kind of family drama and dilemmas many of us can relate to. The First Family of the 616 at their best.
I think Reed Richards speaks for many of us when he expresses his delight at finally getting to explore the Forever Gate in Fantastic Four #31. What with the Empyre and King in Black tie-ins halting the advancement of whatever grand plans writer Dan Slott has for the FF, it’s been something of a stuttering start this past half-year or so, but with the wedding of Doctor Doom just around the corner we get a fun, done-in-one adventure in this issue with the exception art of R.B. Silva.
But, it’s not all high adventure in other dimensions. We get to catch up with the whole extended family as Alicia and Ben’s daughter set about her day. With Skull, Nicki, schooling Alicia on sculpting. After all, as she puts it herself, she’s “been sculpting (her) own flesh since (she) was a baby.” A scene that ends in a tender moment between the adoptive mother and her daughter. This series has been full of such scenes and its a big part of the appeal of this particular series for me. Family will always be the driving force behind all the adventuring and innovation spawned by the first family of Marvel Comics.
It’s an issue that resonants with emotional energy. The love shared between a mother and her daughter, the joy of other-dimensional exploration, and the heartache of being shunned are just some of the emotionally-charged moments Slott infuses this issue with. One-off issues, I notice, he is able to slip in from time to time that reminds you why the Fantastic Four have endured this long. This is an issue dedicated to the same family dynamics any number of families with kids have to traverse. The FF may have traveled to the cosmos and beyond, but the biggest obstacles always seems to come from within. From the all-too-real world of family. Problems we can all relate to. Problems that make then all too human.
Such done-in-one palette cleansers also gives Slott the chance to sow a few seeds to foreshadow events to come in future issues. Let’s not forget, Slott spent a decade on The Amazing Spider-Man and something tells me he’ll be on tis book for a similar duration. And I’m all for it! I’ve loved what he’s built after just his first (almost) three years on this book, and with the wedding of Doom and Victorious yet to come, we ain’t seen nothing yet, I imagine. And, what he hints at here can only spell trouble for the Four.
But that’s for another day and another issue. The soap operatics of Fantastic Four #31 allows the family some downtime and the readers to see them as something different to the superheroes they are to the general public. A nice breather, lovely art, and a great catch-up with the family ahead of what can only be another nerve-racking, dangerous adventure.. attending a weeding!
Fantastic Four #31 is out now from Marvel