TPB: Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol. 1 (#1-6)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar
Artist: Adam Kubert
I hate the Fantastic Four. After not reading their book for 27 years, I decided to pick it up when Johnny Storm died. I’d heard that Hickman was doing great things with the book and Johnny’s death seemed like a logical jumping on point. Twelve issues of FF later, I’d seen the titular characters a few times but most of the books featured only Black Bolt for reasons that still aren’t clear to me. Then Johnny got resurrected by worms. At that point, I was pretty much done with it.
Once bitten twice shy, I decided to pick up the first trade of the Ultimate Fantastic Four. Maybe a new origin is what this team needed to get me onboard. Bendis had done great work on Ultimate Spider-man and Millar and Kubert had hit one out of the park with Ultimate X-men so if anyone could do it, it’d be this creative team.
The story opens on a young Reed Richards inventing dimensional transporters in his garage. His parents have no idea of their son’s potential and are less than supportive of his experiments. After a public display of his equipment, he is offered a position at a government think tank under Dr. Storm and, naturally, his two children. There’s no spaceship in this retelling which probably makes the Ultimate Fantastic Four’s origin the most different from canon of all the Ultimate series.
The art in the book is bright and detailed whether showing the budding beauty of a young Sue Storm or all the repulsive pustules on the Moleman’s face. The story moves along at a good pace showing character development and even having enough time for a few battle sequences. The liberties taken with the origin story seem ripe for novel storylines which this 50+ year old team desperately needs.
Ultimate Fantastic Four succeeds in creating a new and exciting universe for characters that we’ve known since we were young. Although it happens well after the first trade, major curve balls keep coming in this series almost as a self conscious admission that the FF needs more than just a new coat of paint. Any series that is willing to look at itself critically and make drastic changes deserves a reading in my opinion and I will pick up the next trade.
Final rating (out of 5):