Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist’s: Steve Epting, Rick Magyar, Paul Mounts, Carmine di Giandomenico, Andy Troy, Ming Doyle, Jordie Bellaire, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Javier Tartaglia, Farel Dalrymple, and Jose Villarubia
The Supremor has returned and the Kree invade Earth with total extinction on the agenda! Meanwhile the Inhuman’s prepare for war against them in Attilan high above. If that’s not enough the forces of the Negative Zone: Annihilus and the Annihilation Wave are ready to batter down the barrier that holds them at bay and unleash destruction on our dimension at the very same time. Can the Fantastic Four stop them? And who’s legendary return could turn the tide at the very last minute?
The much hyped issue #600 of the Fantastic Four has been rumbling like thunder down the mountain for a while now and with numerous threats beating down the doors of the FF’s world it’s with this super-sized issue that we can claim the pay-off’s for those dangling threads.
Broken into five parts the story deals with the Kree Invasion of Earth from the point of the Four and the Heroes assembly from the previous issue. The action pummels down with succinct bursts in between the sharp dialogue with each of the main characters getting a slice of the story. Ronan and Crystal finally learn the true necessity behind the invasion and a sense of genuine tension pounds throughout the issue as the threat quartet descends on Marvel Earth, in the form of Devious Reed’s, The Annihilation Wave, The invading Kree and the newly motivated Inhumans. Steve Epting and Rick Magyar have always done well to embolden their work with stark sixties visual stylings engraved with all the action packed tropes of classic sci-fi. The invasion feels real, and falls off the page like a hyper-detailed storyboard for an epic action movie.
But the real pay off to this issue is the one the fans have been clamouring for. Hinted at, spoiled and speculated on; the return of Johnny Storm has been a literal hot topic since his off panel death way back in #587. And here we learn that Johnny did indeed die at the hands of Annihilus, but that was only the beginning of his journey. Resurrected and pitted against the champions of the Negative Zone arena, Johnny would face multiple deaths before his coup along with the light brigade saw Annihilus tenure as the Zones ruler and Generalissimo ended, his Cosmic Rod wrested from his grasp.
Hickman claims this was always part of Johnny’s arc, and while many who would seek to detract from the Torches return, it’s clear here that there is a depth of intent where the characters concerned more complex than simple money spinning. Comic book death’s and the emotional connections we have with the characters can seem cheap and easy ways for publishers to make a buck then renege a few issues later. Bucky, Jean Grey and various other characters have all died only to return in the gross undermining of their various demises, but here something is different.
With Johnny’s arc this seems to have always been the plan. This tale highlights the positivity of his life giving ethos, while all around him is given to death. And the lavish art by Carmine di Giandomenico so beautifully renders the denizens of the Negative Zone and the vast gladiatorial face off’s that it’s a pleasure to experience this tale, rather than a flustering short-change on the death of a beloved character.
The following stories while shorter are no less potent. The Inhumans Tale provides an emotionally evocative insight into the quietly compelling relationship between Black Bolt and Medusa with lush visuals courtesy of Ming Doyle, while Galactus is highlighted further via Leinil Yu, interweaving him into Marvel’s mythology as more than just a substantial threat, but a necessary cleansing force drawn to the decay of broken planets.
The final short is perhaps the most leading, hinting at something BIG for the Four should things ever go awry. Farel Dalrymple does an excellent job on pencils as we follow Franklin Richards and Leech into a Universe of Franklin’s own creation in a tale, that while child like and entertaining also posits the question: What would happen if the most powerful mutant in the world turned evil? And for all it’s innocence, this tale is actually the most terrifying.
On a whole the cover price of Fantastic Four #600 sits at a hefty $7.99, to which I say; it’s worth it. Five stories from a menagerie of different artists that all loop in with the over-arching theme and deliver action and drama by the panel is a wise spend for my money. And this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Tags: fantastic four