Review: ‘Fantastic Four’ #1 Proves To Be The World’s Greatest

by Tony Thornley

The Fantastic Four have had a rough few years. The franchise’s latest #1 show that the way is still pretty rough, but it’s also an exciting new path for the Four.

Variant Cover by Alex Ross

Ryan North, Iban Coello, Jesus Aburtov, and Joe Caramagna start a road trip unlike any other we’ve seen before.

Ben and Alicia Grimm are on the road, trying to get away from a mysterious disaster in New York. The couple quickly find themselves in a strange town, where every day is July 12, 1947. Now the Thing and his wife are their only hope to break a timeloop that’s lasted nearly eighty years.

This is the smartest and most thoughtful Fantastic Four story I’ve read in years. North creates a Twilight Zone-like situation that’s instantly engrossing. It’s a familiar trope, but by inserting Ben and Alicia we get to see it from a different perspective. We get to see how intelligent the two are, even if it isn’t Reed’s level of scientific know-how. It also makes for some great comedy as well- once the duo figure out the source of the timeloop, we get to see increasingly silly solutions until Alicia appeals to the heart of the man responsible.

Alicia in particular is another major highlight of the issue. First of all, it’s fantastic (pardon the pun) to see her get billed with the team on the title page. But North is very conscious of the fact that his no-lead has a disability and writes her with that in mind on a level many don’t. Alicia’s blindness is a fact of her life, so the way she describes people is different- “your voice was kind”- and her technology works different- her phone uses a screen reader. It’s smart, and conscious of how capable but different the character is.

Coello is absolutely a superstar in the making. His Ben Grimm is the most expressive and warm version of the character I’ve seen in a long time. He depicts Alicia and Ben as loving newlyweds who still can’t keep their hands off each other. His layouts are inventive, and creates the sense of the time loop visually by breaking panel borders and running over page breaks.

Aburtov uses bright colors, which gives a sense that the volume is going to be fun, and lighter. It sets a tone that keeps the story light, but works into the emotional payoff of the resolution. It’s a great example of how color art can drive a story. Caramagna does the same with the letters, conveying rhythm, cadence and tone through how he places and spaces out the captions and dialogue. 

I absolutely adored this first issue. It’s not just a great example of a good first issue of a comic, it’s a love letter to its leads, a textbook example of stellar F4 storytelling, and an intelligent use of every aspect of its characters. A lot of comics can learn from it.

Fantastic Four #1 is available today from Marvel Comics.


The Fantastic Four launch new adventures with a focus on the team’s rock. The writing is smart, funny and curious. The art is inventive and fun. This is the best the Four have been in years and I can’t wait for what’s next.

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