Review: ‘Fantastic Four: Life Story’ #5 Is Nothing Short Of Outstanding
by Olly MacNamee
‘Fantastic Four: Life Story’ #5 finally gives us the Fantastic Four’s dramatic, epic conflict with Galactus in another outstanding issue. A series that takes the best of the Fantastic Four’s legacy and remixes it to bring a fresh new perspective to bear upon comidom’s favourite family and their exploits. This one is both heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measures.
(+++ WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Fantastic Four: Life Story #5 +++)
Galactus is finally on his way to Earth. An event Reed Richards has devoted a great deal of his adult life to combatting only to find that the Devourer of Worlds is coming for a very different reason to that he and readers have been preparing for. All revealed by the Silver Surfer, a being several thousands of years old. Just one of the many divergences writer Mark Russell has made to tell one of the most outstanding Fantastic Four stories of quite some time. A story that may well not be 616 continuity, but one that is well worthy of inclusion in the FF’s 60th anniversary year. This is one that will be remembered for quite some time. The artwork by Sean Izaakse and Carlos Magno only adds to the sense of greatness this series is achieving, all polished off by colour artist Nolan Woodard.
Now, while there are a great deal of out-of-continuity stories out there, this does not make them outstanding. The story being told in Fantastic Four: Life Story is. Russell tweaks the well known classic Fantastic Four stories of yesteryear to not only give us a story set in real time, but one that offers intriguing new perspectives on certain characters’ motivations and new takes on past plotlines. In this case Galactus’s reason for seeking out Earth – to take Reed Richards for his new herald – as well as the Silver Surfer’s function as his herald. We learn that in all the time the Surfer has sought out planets for Galactus to eat up, he has also sought to keep safe irreplaceable civilisations too. These are but two examples that have made this whole series excel in a crowded comic book market place. Russell shows he is far, far more than a keen eyed satirist and a writer who is more than worthy of taking on one of the bigger books for either DC Comics or Marvel. I think it’s just a question of who will offer him a bite first.
Of course, a great writer can always be made to look even more impressive when matched with a great art team. And this series certainly has that balance too. Izaake’s portrayal of the Silver Surfer’s first meeting with the Fantastic Four is brash, bold and spectacular, while the recounting of his origin delivers dramatic and energetic panel-breaking layouts that Woodward’s colours accentuate further. Together they effortlessly express the epic scale of Galactus and his threat to Norrin Radd’s home world.
It’s a globe-trotting issue too as Russell, Izaakse, Magno et.al. start to tie the threads of previous issue together in the face of the coming of Galactus. And in bringing back the likes of Doctor Doom it offers Russell the chance to infuse this script with clever nuggets of philosophical noodling by both the best and the worst our world has to offer. Not only is this series a clever take on Marvel’s First Family, it’s also an intelligent script through and through. Something I have come to except from Russell. Of course, Doom sees the coming of Galactus in a very different way to Reed. Even in their thoughts they are the antithesis of each other. One of the greatest duelling dualities in comicdom past and present.
As for the showdown with Galactus? Well, you’ll just have to pick up this issue to find out. But again, it’s a clever piece of work from all involved and a jaw dropping and tragedy-tainted epic extravaganza at that. And there’s still one issue left to go too! Excelsior!
Fantastic Four: Life Story #5 is out now from Marvel Comics