The Cold War Heats Up – Reviewing ‘Fantastic Four: Life Story’ #3

by Olly MacNamee


We hit the ’80s with Fantastic Four: Life Story #3 and Reed Richards is once more trying to sell the coming of Galactus to the US government. Full of era-appropriate fashion, we get the return of another infamous FF villain as well as parallels with our own history too in another engrossing issue.


In our reality the ‘80s saw the Neo-con poster boy, Ronald Reagan, dreaming of the Star Wars program to defend America against the threat of a Russian nuclear assault. But in the reality of Fantastic Four: Life Story #3 while the Cold War is still in full swing, it’s Galactus that Reed Richards still envisions as the world’s greatest threat, and so he proposes a similar program, but in defence of an attack by the Devourer of Worlds. A pity Reagan and his cronies can’t see the bigger picture. But, it’s a great introduction to this issue’s decade of decadence, chiming with our own history cleverly. But, it also shows Reed’s obsession has only grown since his separation from Sue, at the end of the last issue. You can almost see Reagan’s hesitancy in signing up for his, and Tony Stark’s, inventive defence solution.

Meanwhile, Johnny Storm picks up a teenage Franklin Richards from a New York jail cell before a reunion with his dad. As with previous issues, it’s the eye for subtle details that really add to this already fascinating real-time take on Marvel’s First Family. Johnny Storm – the perennial young hot head of the FF – is showing signs of his age, even if he tries clinging to it with a gold name chain so beloved of ‘80s rappers. He is, as he notes, almost 40! We also get Reed Richards slumming it in a tracksuit (I’d like to imagine it’s velour), Sue Storm’s power-dressing, alongside a very Miami Vice-like Namor, and more. It’s sharp, well-chosen details and references to ‘80s fashion like these that all adds to the rich fabric of this mini-series both in terms of the scripting by Mark Russell and the art by Sean Isaakse. Plus, we get a great trip down memory lane of what Marvel heroes were wearing back in the day, including Spidey’s symbiotic black suit and Iron Man’s silver and red armour.

As well as these details, another pleasure of this out-of-continuity series is the reimagining of the Fantastic Four’s wider cast of characters, especially the villains. And this issue is no exception with the re-appearance of… well, I won’t spoil it for you. We’re not that kind of site. But, even if I threw out a name, you may still draw a blank. Russell has certainly done his homework once more and will surprise many readers with the revelation of this issue’s bad guy, when it fairly occurs. But by that time it may be too late for the FF and for Earth.

It’s another great issue with a gamut of emotions on display here, and taps into the real fear of the decade that genuinely feared the possiblity of a nuclear war with Russia. As well as the doom and gloom, I like that Richards comes into contact with each decade’s President in each issue so far, as he tries to sell them all on the coming of Galactus, as well as a version of the Fantastic Four that is not as perfect as the 616. It’s a love letter to one of comicdom’s most enduring characters reverentially written by Russell and deftly illustrated by Issake’s with Nolan Woodard’s colours helping realise the various settings as well as the various emotions on display too.

Fantastic Four: Life Story #3 is out now from Marvel 

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