Written By: Chip Zdarsky
Pencilled By: Jim Cheung
Inked By: John Dell & Walden Wong
Coloured By: Frank Martin
Lettered By: VC’s Joe Caramagna
SPOILER WARNING: Usually our reviews are relatively spoiler free, allowing you to read and enjoy the issue. While this issue is still readable and enjoyable after reading this review, it may contain more spoilers than our normal content.
For the past 2 years, we as comic book readers have been separated from the true first family of this medium we enjoy so much. The Fantastic 4. Due to what we now know due to interviews with Jonathan Hickman, the writer of the Marvel Event Secret Wars and longtime Fantastic 4 writer, The 4 were slowly ushered away by editorial mandate due to the movie rights of the characters existing with 21st Century Fox. Now with the recent deal to buy Fox and just a somewhat random change of heart from Marvel, we have seen the beginning of the return of the family that started it all. That return begins with Chip Zdarsky Marvel Two In One.
What You Missed:
We all know the story but if for some reason you do not, The Fantastic 4 are a family of explorers/heroes who after traveling into space, gained extraordinary abilities that they use in their efforts to venture forth through the cosmos and discover the secrets of the universe, as well as defeats the evil dictator or mad alien, or extradimensional threat. Reed Richards, Susan Storm-Richards, Johnny Storm, and Benjamin J Grimm have spent decades together through thick and thin, child birth and almost divorce, supposed death and catastrophic events. And yet, in 2015, Marvel Comics charged Jonathan Hickman the responsibility of giving the first family a send off that would satisfy fans, but we all knew the truth. With the steady decline in their own comic to the announcement of the new movie from Fox, It was clear that Marvel wanted the 4 to disappear.
With the conclusion of Secret Wars arriving and the multiverse seemingly collapsing on itself, Reed Richards, his son Franklin who is one of the most powerful mutants ever, and Owen Reece the Molecule Man, began to use their immense combined intelligence and their abilities to rebuild the multiverse. With Sue as well as her and Reed’s daughter Valeria Richards venturing with them, the new shapers of the Multiverse departed, leaving the Human Torch and The Thing behind. But is that what they believe happened?
The issue kicks off with Johnny Storm doing what he does best. Going fast. After the disappearance of Sue, Reed, and the kids, Johnny attempted to use his powers allying himself with the Inhumans…(no comment) and joining the Avengers Unity Squad. But as time has gone on, Johnny has become more and more reckless without his family surrounding him, and that’s not the only thing changing…
Moving on to Ben Grimm also known as The Thing. Now returned home after joining the Guardians of the Galaxy and then returning home working with S.H.I.E.L.D. to investigate Doctor Doom upon his supposed “change of heart” and becoming a hero. Ben is now at a ceremony where a scientific grant is being given out in honor of the Fantastic 4 and he has been asked to speak on their behalf. Cut to after his big…heart wrenching..tear causing speech (I’m okay.. I said I’m okay!) Ben makes small talk with a woman right as Spider-man and the villain Piledriver cause a scene. The Thing, being the upstanding guy that he is, choke slams Piledriver into the ground. Afterwards, Spider-man gives Ben the keys to a warehouse where all the Fantastic 4’s belongings were placed after Parker Industries bought the Baxter Building…and then lost it because Parker Industries went bankrupt….lovely
Anyway, Ben, traveling to the warehouse, does not run in and try and find a time machine, doesn’t try and find a dimensional transporter in an effort to go after Reed and Sue, because the world doesn’t think their dimension traveling…they think that the Richards family is dead…Ben goes over to his old chair, and just sits down and tries to remember the good times-until Doctor Iron Doom shows up (Read Infamous Iron Man By Brian Michael Bendis for explanation) and explains that upon the Richards’ death…(that’s gonna take getting used to,) Doom had entered the Baxter Building attempting to find some explanation as to why they had perished and not by his hand. Finding nothing, he found an mechanical orb meant for Ben in the event of Reed’s death…which he’s conveniantly giving to him now…So after Doom departs for more Doom related things, Ben opens the orb and a message plays that…(I’m sorry I need a moment.)
The comic wraps up with Ben approaching Johnny who is at a very low point in his life. (Well letting Medusa cheat on Black Bolt with you and then her dumping you will do that to you…well and losing your family) Ben gets Johnny to come around after he…outright lies to him, and now we have a great setup for our series! The Fantastic 2! Exploring the universe on a throne of lies!
Opinions and Such:
I’ve waited so long for this. For so long, it felt like the Fantastic 4 didn’t matter to Marvel. And in truth, they really didn’t. With Bendis keeping Ben around and Johnny just hanging with the Inhumans, and the Richards family getting what seemed to be a great send off, you’d think it was okay to let the 4 go away for awhile. But with all the editorial changes at Marvel (whether I agree with them or not I refuse to say or imply) the only person who seemed to care or realize that the heart of the Marvel universe was gone was Jessica Jones…written by Brian Michael Bendis.
It seemed like that the 4 were doomed, pun intentional, to only be mentioned in Bendis written books, but then Chip Zdarsky entered the picture with his book Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-man. Originally a glorified cash grab for Spider-man Homecoming, that has now turned into a breath of fresh air for those who grew tired of reading Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-man. Now with a solid year of one book, Zdarsky has slammed his way into the hearts of longtime Marvel fans with this one issue of a new series. From what it had seemed with his time so far on Spectacular, Zdarsky seemed to really rely on humor to support his narrative, Here? You’re definitely going to need a tissue box if you are a longtime fan who missed these characters together. The only debatable issue is the seemingly retcon of the know whereabouts of the Richard’s family, but at that point I’m nitpicking an easily overlookable flaw.
The art is fantastic, pun again intended. Jim Cheung crushes this first issue and delivers Zdarsky raw emotion so well. Both the scenes with Doom and Ben, and Johnny and Ben deliver these feelings that we’ve all felt for so long and Zdarsky seems to know all the pain that we’ve felt as a community. Cheung has this specific way of drawing The Thing that next to Mike Mckone, is the difinitive way I enjoy Ben Grimm drawn. Combine that with all the added detail and overall execution, I pray Cheung stays on for more than one issue similarly to what occured to Astonishing X-men recently.