As I mentioned in my review of Jonathan Hickman’s first volume of Fantastic Four stories, he does an excellent job of melding the classic bigness of the team with a down-to-earth family side that is the center of what makes this comic tick. His collaborator Dale Eaglesham does the same with his pencils, so it’s truly a match made in comic book heaven.
While the first volume had some really interesting ideas that grabbed me as ar reader, I think this second one really shows what Hickman is/was building towards. At the end of the previous volume Val Richards was paid a visit by a future version of her brother who gave her a carefully worded though seemingly vague prophecy about a coming war between various cities. In this volume we’re actually presented with those cities. It was something that I didn’t quite catch on to immediately, but once I did, I realized how well paced and plotted this comic was. Plus, even though it’s very clearly building towards the third and fourth volumes and into the relaunch as FF (Future Foundation) later on down the line, it still feels like its own complete thing.
Sometimes, when you read comics or watch shows that are clearly building towards something larger, some of the installments feel like wheel-spinning or world building without much substance. That’s not the case here. Actually, I think one of the reasons I wasn’t paying as much attention to the prophecy stuff is because I was drawn into the mysteries or drama that surrounded each of the cities. Hickman makes sure that each issue has enough going on that you’re absorbed while also collecting pieces of the bigger puzzle which is no small task.
And once again, Dale Eaglesham shows why he’s one of my favorite pencilers in comics. This dude just knows how to draw everything and does it well. It helps that Hickman threw in so many fun settings for the artist to explore. You’ve got underwater stuff, scenes on the moon, underground cities, aliens, monsters, the Mole Man, HERBIE, the Negative Zone and a giant Galactus corpse among other things.
I was really bummed when I finished this volume and realized I had missed my opportunity to get all of the Hickman trades on the cheap from Thwipster. I tweeted as such and was clued in that there would be more available during a Black Friday sale. It was only the third volume, which I now have in my possession. I really want to jump in, but a few things are holding me back. First, I’d rather get my hands on the fourth volume and maybe even FF before heading back into the waters, just to make sure I have as much of the story as possible. The second reason is that Eaglesham didn’t draw anything in the next volume and that bums me out. The guy they got to cover is named Neil Edwards, he did some stuff in the previous volume and he’s not bad, but he suffers from not being Eaglesham and also has a style similar to Bryan Hitch, an artist whose popularity befuddles me. Anyway, with Christmas not too far away, maybe I’ll add the missing volumes to my Amazon wish list and have a post-holiday reading marathon. That sounds pretty fun, actually!