FANTASTIC FOUR #587
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Steve Epting, Rick Magyar, Mike Perkins & Paul Mounts
Matt C: No, I’m not going to spoil it for you. If you’ve not read this issue yet, and have managed to avoid the slowly building number of sites that are revealing exactly who dies (many are putting it as the headline!) then you certainly won’t get me ruining things for you. I will say that I wouldn’t have put money on this particular character buying the farm. If they indeed do buy the farm.
Anyone expecting this to be a giant full stop at the end of all the plotlines Hickman’s been playing with for the last year and a half is going to be disappointed though. Some things are dealt with in a conclusive manner (including one of the stupider ideas Mark Millar came up with), while others are taken to the next stage, and others still are not even touched on (Doom, for example, is nowhere to be seen). What Hickman does, as he has pretty much has done since he took over writing the book, is aim for the bigger picture. These characters are at the forefront of contemporary superhero science fiction, just as they should be, but they’re also an extremely close-knit family unit – FF stories are always a balancing act, but Hickman generally manages to come up with the right mix of family drama and awesome spectacle. A death in the family is obviously going to skew the dynamics of the team, and the way I’m looking at it is that Hickman is setting himself a challenge, seeing if he can still provide compelling Fantastic Four tales while one of the founding members is temporarily out of the picture. And yeah, even though I have no inside knowledge, I do mean temporarily! This is comics after all - we know the character who doesn’t make it to the end of the issue will be back sooner or later!
We’ve got a new book (a rebooting, renumbering relaunch!) due after things wrap up next month in #588 and while I hope Hickman continues with the various storylines already in motion I’m also hoping that we’ll see a larger emphasis on teamwork going forward. One of Marvel’s First Family ends up as wormfood (or so we’re led to believe!) in this issue, but what I’d like to see addressed, what I’d like to see in amongst the soul-searching, is the notion that if they’d all stuck together rather than going off and doing their own thing repeatedly (one of the key traits in Hickman’s run) then maybe they’d still be a Fantastic Four instead of a Fantastic Three. The death of a loved one usually brings people together – I trust we get to see something along those lines in FF #1.
Predictions for the future aside, Fantastic Four #587 is a great read - perhaps it won’t be able to withstand the spotlight out of context (it doesn't have the cultural reach and impact of Captain America's death) but for those already onboard there’s plenty to enjoy, from Epting’s wonderful panel composition, to Galactus in full-on preventative-revenge mode, to an absolutely delicious (and hilarious!) scene between Sue and Namor. If you were to ask me to pick Marvel’s top superhero titles at the moment then I think Hickman’s Fantastic Four would stand alongside Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man and Brubaker’s Captain America. Thrilling and emotionally engaging, this issue proves that almost 50 years on since Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben were bathed in cosmic rays, the Fantastic Four still possess a unique ability to charm, excite and captivate in equal measure. 8/10