Giant-Size FF #1 Review

By | Tuesday, March 12, 2024 Leave a Comment
Let me start this review by prefacing things with slight disclaimer: I am several months behind in my reading of the regular Fantastic Four title. I've still been getting it regularly, but the last issue I read was #11 which came out six months ago. Everything that's come out since then has basically just been getting stacked in a "to read" pile. See, despite being a huge fan of the characters, I've found Ryan North's work on the book extremely underwhelming. Not actually bad per se, but not very good either. I don't find myself particularly eager to dive into those books; literally every issue of the new series that I've read has felt like a fill-in issue. Maybe that's changed in the past few months, but from the couple issues I quickly skimmed through, I don't think so. So with that said...

Giant-Size Fantastic Four #1 is the best new FF story I've read since maybe the 60th anniversary issue back in 2021. I'll admit that seeing Stingray on page 1 was initially a bit concerning (he's a decent enough character, but he's basically only brought in when you've got an ocean story and Namor is unavailable for some reason, so he always has this also-ran feel about him) but the main story gets going quickly, so he doesn't become distractingly out of place or anything. And the story is interesting in that it basically just gives an origina for Namor's catchphrase, "Imperious Rex!" Which doesn't sound like much of a story, but there's definitely a lot more there than you might first suspect and with some interesting turns that you probably won't see coming even after you start getting the gist of where things are headed. There is some action in the story, but not any unnecessarily long fight scenes or anything. It's a staunch reminder that the Fantastic Four are NOT superheroes, but super-powered explorers. Their stories should not focusing on giant battles and winning through strength and raw power. Mr. Fantastic indeed solves the conflict verbally and the antagonist, too, doesn't just fight the team because that's what 'villains' do. The story ends not exactly amicably but peaceably enough, and it makes for some interesting potential character coflicts to come. Whether Marvel acts on or realizes them well is another matter, of course, but it's an excellent setup.

The story was written by Fabian Nicieza. I've liked his work since at least the late 1990s. He's an excellent storyteller to begin with, and has a good understanding and appreciation of continuity when he's working on Marvel properties. He has similar storytelling sensibilities as Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, and Dan Slott, and I can't say I've ever come across a Nicieza-written story that wasn't at least good if not great. He's quite quite the body of work and Giant-Size Fantastic Four #1 falls well in line with his ouvre.

I was not previously familiar with artist Creees Lee but he turns in some solid work here as well. Pretty smooth storytelling throughout and nice linework. I definitely wouldn't mind seeing more of his work. Although I'm not a fan of the Human Torch's handlebar mustache (which is not Lee's design) I did think he did a good job rendering the character in his various half-aflame states.

The issue also reprints the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee story from Fantastic Four #33. Thematically, I know why they chose that one but it's not a particular favorite of mine from that era. Honestly, mostly because I don't care for Chic Stone's inking of Kirby. But it is a story that doesn't get reprinted often, I don't think, so it is cool that it's offered here to add some historical context.

Like I said, Giant-Size Fantastic Four #1 is the best new FF story I've read in a few years, and I'd love to see Nicieza and Crees continue to do more FF stories. I'm sure the current creative team on the main book have plenty of their own fans, but I found this to be a far superior story just from a technical standpoint and is much more in line with the characters I've known as the Fantastic Four.
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