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Marvel NOW! Test Case 001: Caleb reads Fantastic Four #1

As most of you are well aware, Marvel NOW! is Marvel’s new initiative to re-brand and re-freshen its line of superhero comics, which seems to be a sort of undeclared response to DC Comics’ 2011 New 52 relaunch.

Whereas the Distinguished Competition rebooted its continuity as well as giving all its series new No. 1 issues, Marvel’s effort is more akin to the branding enterprise that followed past crossover events (“The Heroic Age,” “Dark Reign,” “The Initiative,” etc), albeit to a far greater extent: In addition to bearing uniform cover design, many of the NOW! books are also being relaunched with new No. 1 issues and getting new creative teams (although many of those teams are simply swapping assignments; for example, the guy who was doing Avengers is now doing an X-Men comic,while a guy who was doing an X-Men comic is now doing an Avengers comic, and so on).

The idea, one imagines, is, as always, to sell more comics — to lure lapsed readers, Marvel-curious readers and (judging by the numbers of variants being published) collectors and speculators to try out some of the new and/or refurbished comics. It worked on me, so I thought it might be interesting (or at least something to write a blog post about, which is basically the same thing for me) to use myself as a case study to examine a single instance of a new reader trying out a Marvel NOW! book.

The first of the NOW! releases that jumped out at me as purchase-worthy was this week’s Fantastic Four #1.

My Background: I’ve read Fantastic Four on a monthly, buy-the-new-books-off-the-rack-every-Wednesday fashion before, although it’s been a while — the relatively short, 12-issue  run of the title by the late, great Dwayne McDuffie, who wrote it during the post-Civil War “Initiative” branding effort (which, it turns out, the NOW! version suggests in at least a few ways).

I’m never averse to picking up FF specials or one-shots that seem interesting, either; I really liked those Tom Beland/Juan Doe bilingual efforts, for example. At the moment, the only Marvel comics I’m reading on a monthly basis are Daredevil and Hawkeye.

What appealed to me about this one: The creative team on this consists of writer Matt Fraction and artists Mark Bagley and Mark Farmer. I’ve found Fraction’s Marvel work to be hit or miss, but the last new comic of his I’ve read, Hawkeye, has been a success as far as I’m concerned. It’s one of the best super-comics on the stands, as near as I can figure, and if Fraction could bring the same virtues he’s brought to that particular book to a the Fantastic Four, well then, this should really be something to read.

Bagley isn’t an artist I’d necessarily go out of my way to read, but neither would I cross the street to avoid one of his comics. I’ve quite liked a lot of his work in the past, and his style seems like a fine choice for a straight-forward superhero property like the Fantastic Four.

Additionally, the book is only $2.99, which is the most I’ll pay for a Big Two super-comic. In an era in which everything the publishers release will be available in a book-length collection within a matter of months, it seems like simple madness to blow $4 on 20 to 22 pages of comics. (Hell, $2.99 still seems like a lot versus waiting for trades, but it’s 33 percent cheaper than, say, the Marvel NOW! Iron Man #1 was.)

Finally, this particular book is apparently going to be one-half of a two-book franchise; Fraction is also writing FF, another of the NOW! books I’m interested in reading, which will feature the artwork of Mike Allred, one of my favorite superhero comics artists.

New Reader Friendliness: The book begins with a page of prose, two paragraphs in gigantic font meant to bring readers up to date on who the Fantastic Four is. The first paragraph is basic stuff, that which anyone who has seen any of the movies or cartoons (or read or heard about them) already knows. The second is about The Future Foundation, the school for young geniuses that was established during writer Johnathan Hickman’s just-concluded run (which I meant to read in trade some day, but, like a lot of super-comics I tell myself I’ll read in trade someday, I haven’t gotten to it yet).

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Marvel wasn’t kidding during its very insistent “It’s not a reboot!” PR campaign; this is obviously not  a reboot, and, in fact, seems to follow what I understand occurred in the previous run so closely the fact they they relaunched the book at all seems a little curious.

The team members are still wearing their white uniforms, they’re still running The Future Foundation when not off adventuring. I was mildly confused by a few things that I guess I wouldn’t be if I were reading the previous run. For example, Johnny Storm has just gotten mildly serious with a woman whom I guess is going to be the mysterious “Miss Thing” in the sister FF book, and he’s wearing some sort of weird arm brace thingy in one scene for some reason …?

Newness: While Fraction does a fine job of reintroducing the characters and their various personality tics, they are all very, very familiar. Sue is a concerned mother. Reed is easily distracted and kind of a jerk to his loved ones. Johnny is shallow. Ben Grimm’s dialogue is about 15 percent catch phrase, and he’s always in conflict those rassafrassin guys from Yancy Street.

The premise of what I imagine will end up being Fraction’s run on the book is that Mr. Fantastic discovers the unstable molecules that give he and his family their powers may actually be killing him, and, with little time left to live, he decides to pack up the school on a space-time ship  for a year-long field trip, during which he will secretly be trying to cure himself and his family (Elevator pitch: The Fantastic Four as The Magic School Bus); while they’re gone, they will pick out a replacement Fantastic Four, as they seem to do fairly regularly now (the last time I was reading the book, Black Panther and Storm were filling in for Reed and Sue; Hickman’s run included a stretch where Spider-Man was filling-in for Johnny), and those are the heroes that will be starring in Fraction and Allred’s FF book.

Reader-Friendliness: I suppose Daredevil and Hawkeye may be outliers, because I was pretty shocked at how truncated and unsatisfying this single-issue installment was. Going back, I found there were only 20 story pages, and, counting those in Daredevil #19 and Hawkeye #3, I see there are only 20 story pages in those as well. (When DC dropped its page count, I recall the company making a big deal out of it; did Marvel not announce its drop, or was I just not paying attention?)

I sure as hell noticed that the book was short, whereas Fraction’s own Hawkeye features panel-packed pages that extend the reading experience. So far, each issue of Hawkeye has been a complete story of its own, and been and offered a satisfying chunk.

Fantastic Four #1, by comparison, takes mere minutes to read. The most panels any page had was seven, and a couple of them have panel counts as low as two or three. There are two full-page splashes, both of which are indulgent and space-wasting, including one in which Reed realizes he’s probably dying, and we get a full-page image of him standing sadly in front of his floating computer screens, saying “Uh-Oh.”

Obviously the idea was to slow the book down to match the importance of the discovery for Reed, and while that would work fine in a graphic novel, we’ve only got 20-pages here; the facing one is a full-page ad for Red Baron pizza, and the two images bleed into one another. Reed facing mortality is obviously meant to be important, but only looks equally important to the fact that it takes only five minutes to fill up on a Red Baron pizza, thanks to their new feasts for one.

Also, I was confused and annoyed to see a big, stylized “AR” in a red box in the lower right-hand corner of the first page of the book, a splash page set “One Year From Now.” The same panel appeared a few pages later, when the team is stuck in the mouths of a huge dinosaur. And a few pages later when Johnny and his girlfriend are on a date in the Negative Zone.

I eventually hit an ad asking, “Notice the AR icon during this Marvel comic book?”, as if one could miss it. The ad helpfully explains it stands for “Augmented Reality,” and if you download an app for one of your newfangled phones you can hover it over that graphic and “sit back and see the future of comics in action!” This “future of comics” could include “Action-packed trailers, visual character bios, creator video commentaries and much more!”

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So I can see ads, Wikipedia entries and creator interviews about what I’m reading, while I’m reading it? If I stop reading it to do something with my phone? Awesome …?

Anyway, this is old hat to a lot of you, I imagine. I do recall skimming articles about it on some of the comics news sites awhile back, but I guess the few Marvel books I’ve read since haven’t had any “AR” thingees added to them, so I’ve yet to see them cluttering up the art. Hopefully they’re not present in the trade collections, as between those and the sheer volume of ads in this particular issue (it’s sort of rare to encounter two consecutive pages of the story unbroken by an ad, most of which, it turns out, are house ads), it’s not much fun reading this comic.

Ultimate Assessment: It’s a decent but unremarkable comic, and one made disappointing by the fact that Fraction is obviously capable of producing better work featuring Marvel super-characters and the push it’s getting. The Marvel NOW! campaign functions to raise expectations, so decent just isn’t good enough to avoid disappointment. Rather than NOW!, this read like last year…or 2007…or 1997. I guess I’ll wait for the trade on this one, but I’ll go ahead and try the other two “NOW!” titles that piqued my interest: FF and Young Avengers.

Nitpick: The scene set inside a dinosaur’s mouth includes a box reading “Two-point-six-six million years before now.” That’s 2.66 million years ago, right? The last dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago; 2. 7 million years ago would have put the Fantastic Four back in the Paleolithic period, way into the age of mammals, to the point where human beings were already in existence. Of course, in the Marvel Universe, dinosaurs still exist in the 21st century in The Savage Land, so maybe I should just award myself a No-Prize and then shut up.



Caleb, just curious:

Is your “why pay $4 for a comic when the trade is just months away” policy at all effected by the fact that Marvel doesn’t discount books in their trade prices (i.e. a trade collecting four $4 books will be $16, five $4 books $20, etc.)?

What is the moral victory in waiting for trade based on price if you’re not actually saving any money?

@Ziggy — If you order off of Amazon, you’re always saving money. And it’s usually the HCs that match the separate prices, with trades offering somewhat of a discount. Combine that with many decompressed books that feel like you’re getting only a small portion of a story one month at a time and trade-waiting seems appealing.

That said, I buy almost everything on a monthly basis still.

This was an excellent post, informative and entertaining. More of this please, not just for Marvel books, but for any publisher. Great job.

Fraction gets a lot wrong in this first outing.

It is their uniforms that have the unstable molecules. Their bodies are cosmically mutated cells.

Reed seems to have lost a lots of his brain power. He seems to have forgotten he has a son who has created multiple realities. A son who spontaneously healed Ben back from having Mjolnir shot through his chest during Fear Itself, a series helmed by current writer Matt Fraction. A son who has been trained by his older self in the use of his powers. A son that will eventually claim Galactus as HIS herald.

And yet, Reed doesn’t even consider going to him? “Daddy has a boo-boo, and I can’t fix it. Please help me son, or I may be dead soon.” Zap. Done. No hoping for the best, to find some kind of cure in some unknown reality.

And Reed just blatantly rips off Johnny’s ship? (The “arm brace” was the Cosmic Control Rod which gives Johnny dominion over the Negative Zone. He lets it’s inhabitants live as they have chosen however.)

Add all of this to Fraction’s notorious decompressed writing style, leads this long time fan who has read the book regularly since the 70’s to say “pass”. Matt Fraction is no Jonathan Hickman. Not even close.

“So I can see ads, Wikipedia entries and creator interviews about what I’m reading, while I’m reading it? If I stop reading it to do something with my phone? Awesome …?”

…or you could go back and check them out AFTER you read the comic, but you know whichever is snarkier and more tortured sounding.


That’s assuming you’re buying the hardcover and paying full price. If you wait for the paperback and buy it at the right place you’re saving a lot of money. For example, Captain America vol. 2 collects issues 6-10, costs $16.99, discounted to $10.18 on Amazon. You’d have paid $19.95 for those as individual issues (maybe slightly less if you have a discount at your shop or through your mail service). At any rate, waiting makes good financial sense. I’ve gone to this method almost exclusively, and don’t regret a thing.

Totally agree about the issue. I buy Fantastic Four no matter what, and it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t spectacular either. It felt like a collection of subplots. I couldn’t help but think back to another #1 featuring Bagley on art: New Warriors #1. It packed so much into one issue, introducing the characters, gathering them, and setting a purpose and tone for the book. And it was a complete story.

The unstable molecules thing threw me off, too. The editor really should have caught that. Given his shrugging reaction to similar criticisms of Fear Itself (paraphrasing: “I’m the writer, you’re not”), I’m guessing Fraction doesn’t really care.

That said, I think the tendency to keep a problem to himself is totally in character for Reed. But if Sue just goes along with this trip without seriously addressing Franklin’s premonitions, then I’m throwing my hands up. She should know enough to take Franklin seriously, and be more than strong-willed enough to stand up to Reed.

I save about $30 a month off the cover price through the mail/subscription service that I use, which is good enough for me. But if you want to wait four months to read the book, then that’s definitely up to you. I’ve heard complaints about the left-page reveal in works from the Big Two, but don’t find it as often as I’ve read complaints. In theory, wouldn’t this problem only increase with a collected volume?

Anyways, I agree that this is a clever and useful format for reviewing a new or themed launch title, particularly if the reviewer isn’t entirely familiar with the book being reviewed. I’ve put in orders for a handful of NOW titles, but they’re the same books that I was reading before the switch… no surprise there.

For all of you who are saying I’m talking about HC prices, I’m not.

Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1, collecting issues #1-4 – $15.99 ($4 per issue)

Wolverine and The X-Men Vol. 2 , #5-8 – $16.99 ($4.25 per issue)

FF by Hickman Vol. 3, #12-16 – $16.99 ($3.40 per issue)

3 examples, all softcover, 2 of the 3 actually cost MORE in trade.

Yes, all those books can be found discounted on Amazon, but the single issues can also be found with similar discounts with mail services like DCBS.

I think my point remains. If there is no money saved, where is the virtue or victory in waiting for trade based on price?

I think I would rather have read a non-comic reader’s opinion on the friendliness of this book, rather than someone who has (an admittedly limited) familiarity with the characters and conceit. Someone who doesn’t have opinions on creators or trade vs serialization. That, I think, is the real measure of whether this book will/did attract new readers.

For me, the benefit of a trade is a) I agree the reading experience is frequently better; b) they are easier to store, and c) they are easier to re-sell than individual comic books.

I want to be clear, I’m not saying trades aren’t better than issues. I’m a trade reader myself. But my decision isn’t based on price. He said, “In an era in which everything the publishers release will be available in a book-length collection within a matter of months, it seems like simple madness to blow $4 on 20 to 22 pages of comics

Trade waiting based on price. But if the price is the same why would price matter?

Joseph had a few good points for why the trade can be better than the single issues. Another reason is decompression: some single issues are so thin in story matter that they read too quickly and don’t read well by themselves. I used to pick up a lot more single issues, back before I moved and back when I had easy access to a lcs. Recently I’ve been picking up my single issues monthly, but I’m thinking about exploring DCBS mail order service.

Very nice assessment and I agree wholeheartedly. I didn’t even notice the 2.6 million years thing. Wow that’s a blunder. This is what I said in my review on my site:

There isn’t a book with higher expectations than Fantastic Four Vol. 2 #1 largely because I don’t know if anyone can top Jonathan Hickman. Matt Fraction gives it a fighting chance though, by first revealing a Mr. Fantastic that can be hurt and then giving us a bad dream from Franklin that spells doom for our heroes. My main grievance with this issue is it doesn’t establish a status quo, but rather seems to be carrying over a lot of what Hickman did including characterization. I’m also a little worried when a Fantastic Four comic opens with time travel. It seems the villain of this story, albeit there isn’t much to go on yet, is inside the FF themselves. At least this is a new direction for them to be going in, but it doesn’t blow you away and leaves you wanting more.

Yeah, the issue sucked. Fraction can’t write cosmic that’s why.

@Ziggy “I think my point remains. If there is no money saved, where is the virtue or victory in waiting for trade based on price?”

Taking away the cost or cost saving, the reason why I or anyone should (my word) wait for a trade collection for ANY series put out by DC or Marvel these days because it’s WRITTEN as a trade, NOT as a monthly comic.

If these comics had stories with a beginning, middle and end (even though part of a longer running narrative, this can be done. It had been done for years) then coming out in a monthly comic book format would make total sense. But these books AREN’T written that way.

Seriously, I make this comparison every time this subject comes up. If you’re going to read a novel, would you go to your local book store and buy it, one chapter at a time? Of course not. It’s a novel Meant to be read as a whole. If these current comic book writers insist on writing comics as if it’s just a chapter for a novel, than write the whole damn thing and release it as a graphic novel.

What, they can’t? They can’t wait for the book to be finished (which would take months and months) to be paid in full? Well too damn bad. Find a different profession then.

Don’t expect me to waste my time and money on an unfinished product.

So, even though the cost of buying monthly issues may be the same when it’s collected in a trade, I’ll do what any normal reader will do. Wait for the whole book to be published before reading it.

AGAIN, if you read my comments I’ve said MULTIPLE TIMES I’m not saying comics are better than trades or there isn’t many advantages to reading trades over comics. I’m not talking about the merits of trades in general. The author of this post makes it very clear that it’s the expense of comics that causes him to wait for trade, not the content. 5 years ago that was valid reason, and with many publishers it still is. But we’re talking about Marvel Comics here and you don’t save money on trades anymore from Marvel Comics.

Honestly, it’s question only Caleb can answer because it’s his opinion I’m questioning.

And as I said in the first line of my statement, actually the first seven words, “Taking away the cost or cost saving”
I’m not commenting on the cost AT ALL. I’m responding to the entire scope of whether it’s worth reading in monthly chapters or wait for the entire story to be published as a whole.

So what you’re saying is you addressed me, then specifically answered what I not only specifically didn’t ask, but was also never brought up in the initial post.


The trades also have the added bonus of any extra content, or varient covers all thrown in together. The main reason I always get a few titles in regular single time issues is the experience of getting them at the local comic shop, and interacting with other fans as the stuff comes out.

I went to Hickman’s Fantastic Four run after dropping all of DC following the New 52. Fraction’s looks like it will be fun, which is what I”m looking for in a comic. Knowiing comics the way I do, I bet the 2.66 million years will be a plot point somewhere down the line…he’s got 12 issues to address it!



I don’t normally respond in these things, as I prefer to let the posts speak for themselves (and also because it’s too easy for me to get lured into arguments I’ll regret having a few days later). But since your question lead to so much conversation, I guess I should probably address it, huh?

There’s a whole host of reasons I prefer trade collections over serially-published comic books (as comic books currently exist, particularly from the Big Two), most of which were addressed in by other folks. I didn’t get into all that, because I didn’t want to get off-track in the post.

I don’t buy $3.99/20-22-page comics because I think they’re silly, because they quite obviously didn’t suddenly cost 33% more money to produce than they did before, and if Iron Man #1 DOES cost more than FF #1 to produce, then Marvel’s overpaying the guys doing Iron Man (or underpaying the ones doing FF, I guess) and I don’t want to encourage the publishers/be a part of that.

When I DO buy trades I waited for, they always cost less than if I bought the comics off the shelf, as I buy ‘em from Amazon (Sorry retailers, but I’m poor; take it up with Marvel!), but, more often than not, for me “wait-for-the-trade” means “Wait until the trade gets published, and then borrow it from the library and read it”, so whatever Marvel charges for their trades, I pay no money at all for them.

What I meant in the sentence you referenced though, which didn’t come out clearly, is that there’s a certain degree of aggravation with reading Marvel comics serially rather than in trades (in addition to the slow pacing and the month’s wait between installments, there’s all the ads and the goofy “AR” thingee they have now), and since a better reading experience is generally available for cheaper (or free) in a few months’ time, I have a hard time justifying buying $2.99 books, let alone $4 ones.

Okay. Hope that answers your question. I will go back to not responding now. Thanks all for reading/talking about what you read.

You should really get to reading Hickman’s run on FF and Fantastic Four. it was amazing.

The “AR” thing is pointless and stupid. Putting that big read eye sore in panels is distracting.
I’ve tried this on my phone and there is nothing about it that is interesting. I didn’t like that Marvel was doing this to begin with and since they started I was waiting for the day they stopped and let me, when I’m able to, enjoy my comics as COMIC BOOKS not some online crap full of interviews and other worthless things that I would probably enjoy more online than on my phone.

This is a FYI post, and has nothing to do with the “back & forth” above.

If I’m not too late on this discussion … In a recent article Marvel said they are going to be doing more “Premium” hardcovers (oversized … more expensive) and that the delay between HC and TPB would go from 3 months to 8 months.

If you want to read comics, buy the comics!

If you want to read the occasional story you heard about, wait for the trade!

SOMEBODY needs to reveal “Darla Deering” as Gaia, lol. This kind of strange behavior is right up her alley.

Man am I sick of hearing how the “Big Two” primarily write for the trade. Now I don’t read a ton of indie stuff, but let us just go ahead and declare Image indie. So from Image I read The Walking Dead, Chew, Invincible, Skullkickers, Morning Glories. From ONI I read The Sixth Gun. From Valiant I read Bloodshot. Why do I mention these? They all happen to be written for the trade. Everything “indie” I read is written for the trade.

It is and has been the evolution of the comic book industry and not simply a mandate by Marvel and DC.

“Add all of this to Fraction’s notorious decompressed writing style, leads this long time fan who has read the book regularly since the 70′s to say “pass”. ”

Notorious according to whom? Both Immortal Iron Fist and Hawkeye, not to mention Fraction’s own Casanova series, were / are choc full of 9+ panel pages. Iron Man was very well paced and played to Salvador Larroca’s strengths as an artist.

If anything decompressed storytelling is a novelty in Fraction’s work. At least the books I’ve read.

(I’ve not read Fantastic Four #1 yet incidentally so can’t comment on that specifically)

Hey Comic Book Resources,

You need to get some new writers. Your reviews are becoming increasingly negative and incredibly nit picky. It infuriates me that you would offer something like Batman Detective Comics – which is as generic as a comic book series can go a four and a half star review and yet be so critical of new and exciting books.

I’m tired of comic book haters. Just because you’ve read Fantastic Four in the past – doesn’t make you an expert and just because you review comic books – doesn’t make you more knowledgeable of the art of story crafting than people who have been doing it for decades.

@ Aaron: “I’ve heard complaints about the left-page reveal in works from the Big Two, but don’t find it as often as I’ve read complaints. In theory, wouldn’t this problem only increase with a collected volume?”

I don’t see why it should, even in theory. Logically, I see only two possibilities:

a) The publisher respects the artistic vision enough to actually either consciously keep the even/odd pages split as imagined by the creators or, alternately, let them know in advance where the ads etc. will be placed so they can plan the story accordingly.
b) The publisher doesn’t care, in which case for every page the odds of being on the “correct” side are always exactly 50%.

Either way, no reason for collected works to be worse (or better) in that regard than single issues.

“Going back, I found there were only 20 story pages, and, counting those in Daredevil #19 and Hawkeye #3, I see there are only 20 story pages in those as well. (When DC dropped its page count, I recall the company making a big deal out of it; did Marvel not announce its drop, or was I just not paying attention?)”

When DC dropped its page count to 20 pages, Marvel made a fuss about the fact that ITS books still had 22—because, if nothing else, Marvel does a great job of never missing an opportunity to promote itself or its comics; Marvel is a king of marketing—and then quietly dropped its books to the same page count a short time later.

( I DO love the fact that Marvel doesn’t worry about holding itself to past comments made in public; when DC rebooted its line and came out with 52 #1 issues, Marvel made a point of mentioning that most of its books had been around longer, and had bigger numbers. Just over a year later, Marvel is restarting most of its titles with #1 issues.)

Can everyone stfu about trades and just discuss how shitty the book was? I was excited to finally be able to read fantastic four after dropping hickman’s crappy run, but honestly Marvel couldn’t have picked a worse writer for FF. I guess I still won’t be reading Fantastic Four.

I buy all my graphic novels used on Ebay, usually for 25-50% of cover price. I don’t collect them, so I don’t really care too much about their condition. When I’m done with a few I sell them back on Ebay for just about what I bought them for.

For me, paying $4-$5 for a single comic book is crazy.

Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)

November 17, 2012 at 10:47 am

Fraction’s writing drove me off Iron Man. I love his Hawkeye, and think it’s Marvel’s best book. I have finally got the full run of Defenders for cheap (wouldn’t pay $3.99 an issue for it up front not knowing if it would be the Fraction I liked or the one I didn’t writing it).

F4 was okay. It’s not as good as the average issue of Hickman’s run (slowly plowing through Comixology back issues) but I might give issue 2 a try. I’m really hoping for FF, love that Allred art. That’s a book that really needs to be “Good Fraction.”

As for 20 pages for $2.99 or $3.99. Marvel followed DC on that very quickly in all but one respect. They did not announce it as a policy, and have refused to announce it as such. There is no “official Marvel policy,” of 20 pages being the standard length for a book. However, almost all of Marvel’s books are now 20 pages, possibly out of sheer happenstance.

I was in the same boat that you were. I hadn’t read a Fantastic Four book in years besides the one when they killed Johnny. I loved this issue. I thought it was a nice set up issue. It let me, as a new reader, see the status quo, and set up an adventure. I thought this review was very nitpicky. Not sure what more you wanted, but I loved it. Looks like I’ll be giving Marvel more of my money.

I’m not sure that this is a case where the first issue is enough to judge a run on, or at least predict much about how it’ll go. It was very much an introductory issue that just established Fraction’s ground rules in a way. I mean the structure was basically:

-This is who Reed is
-This is who Ben is
-This is who Johnny is
-This is who Sue is
-This is where we’re going.

So because of how basic that structure is, it’s not a terribly exciting issue. All it really does for you is show you Fraction’s take/understsanding of each of the 4 while introducing the larger idea behind his run.

Yeah. Pretty awful issue all around. Bad writing and Bad art. Since I’ve heard this title announced, I’ve said it’s D.O.A.

Fraction is much better with his creator-owned stories. Immortal Iron Fist notwithstanding, every single one of his work-for-hire books have really sucked donkey-*****. And David Aja is primarily responsible for the high quality of “Hawkeye”.

The comic book = novel comparison is flawed.
Comic books are more like soap operas or serialized movies than novels. There was a time comic books WERE “trades;” they were just collections of comic strips. Who cares whether one spends his money on trades or the individual leaflets? Some of us like trades, some like leaflets — now some like tablet comics. I’d spend more money even if it was cheaper to read the trades IF having the comic was what I preferred.
That said, the review of F4 #1 was a good read. I’m no Bagley fan so I’ll pass on this. I was drawn back into FF by Millar’s run and stayed for Hickman’s. Glad I read both but I’m moving on.
I too only read Hawkeye and Daredevil from Marvel. Casanova is still the best thing Fraction does and I hope he gets back to it.

After Hickmans run, this issue was just a let down. I am looking forward to FF if only for the art.

This may very well be the first non-4 or 5 star review of a book to grace CBR’s front page in years. Thank you for this. For the first time in a long time, in the future, I will actually be curious when seeing a book review on the front page regarding whether or not the reviewer liked it. That it will be gushing with praise is no longer a foregone conclusion.

Have to agree with the post about moving off of the trades discussion and just commenting on the fact that the book was a bore. I was expecting a new direction after Hickman’s run, which started out great and soon became nothing more than a kids show. Now, we seem to be moving into a new era of FF adventures that are the same kids show taken on the road. Wow, what a departure.

I’ll give the book two more issues and then I’m out. I’m looking for someone to FINALLY make the FF great again, but this is not it.


My thoughts exactly. I came to this article thinking a non-reader was going to review it. Foolish, really to think CBR would do something fresh. Still at least this review didn’t get 4 stars, like in the way CBR tends to give every Marvel book they review.


Love your remark about Marvel’s hypocrisy. Would love to see a comics journalist pick up on this.

As a new reader to the Fantastic Four, I thought it was a good first issue that introduced the characters and set up things to come. Liked it enough to add it to my pull list. I didn’t know that I was supposed to hate it.

I actually really, really like this issue. Not quite on the level of Fraction’s Hawkeye but aside from that its probably the best he’s written (for Marvel, at least). I found it to be a completely worthy successor to Hickman’s run.

The first red flag, for me, is that we have ANOTHER story in the offing where Reed sees a problem, and instead of talking to his family, decides to keep it a secret until it inevitably comes back to bite him in the rear.

It’s the same tired old story they always use with him. “He’s really smart, but doesn’t have any empathy”.

The sad thing is, there’s a much better premise in this issue (“We are adventurers. Let’s go on an adventure!”), but Fraction uses it as Reed’s excuse.

dude. seriously?

this review pretty much sums up why I rely on IGN to tell me what books are good.

so many of this site’s reviews are completely off.

I’ve been reading the FF on a monthly basis for about 15 years now. It’s far and away the longest run of anything I have in my collection, and they’re my favourite characters. I also hold Hickman’s run to probably be the best Fantastic Four has ever been. I considered strongly both of these points before reading the book, and I still came away as disappointed. One, as a long-time reader, the continuity ignorance is beyond irritating. I know no one gives a shit about the history of these characters anymore, but since it’s one of the few things that make superhero comics stand out, I do. Second, the art was pedestrian. This is not Bagley’s strongest work, but I don’t even know if he’s the right artist for this book. The kind of stories you should be telling with the FF aren’t his particularly strong suit. Fraction did get some of the character beats right, especially amongst the kids. That was not unappreciated. There wasn’t enough granduer or family, though, for the book to appeal. Looking at this as a brand-new reader, I cannot imagine someone grasping the fundamentals of the FF because they weren’t showcased. Like the other core Marvel franchises, the FF has unique properties, and this issue failed to bring them out for new audiences to see.

With all the hype surrounding Marvel NOW, I expected a much stronger story from Matt Fraction to kick off the (4th, or 5th if you count ‘FF’) relaunch of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.”

Pretty much confimrs everything I’d assumed about the book since the creative team was announced: Fraction is hit or miss at best, and Bagley’s best days (or at least those when he didn’t ‘phone it in’) are long behind him. I’m getting #1 for the Skottie variant, but that’ll probably be it.

And yeah… that frickin’ AR crap is a pain in the ass. Lose it NOW!, Marvel.

I loved this issue. I came here wanting to read a good review of the issue, but instead I get complaints about the comic book industry. $2.99 vs $3.99, number of pages, number of panels, AR apps, number of ads, the necessity of re-numbering. These are issues you have with modern comics, not with Fantastic Four specifically. So write that opinion piece separately and I’ll skip it, and you spend a little longer arguing the pros and cons of the is she’s content. I understand that you found it unremarkable, but I don’t really understand why you did.

3.99 for 22 pages of a story that is just part of a larger story ( meaning there is no beginning, middle or end )
Is absolutely insane.

I read them at the store and then buy the collected editions off amazon for LESS money than the cover price.

2.99 for 20 pages is ALSO way too high considering the content is readable in 3 minutes.

1.99 is the ideal price for a 22page print comic PERIOD….. I would actualy be willing to pay higher for a trade with high production values… after buying the $1.99 version each month with less production values.

Its the way it was 20-30 yrs ago…. Publishers got greedy and now nobody buys anything.

I read it and liked it. But I agree it wasn’t remarkable. I really enjoyed Fraction’s Iron Fist and The Order series. The other stuff (Thor, Iron Man, Defenders, Fear Itself) I have not despite those titles being some of my favorites. Guy is a good writer obviously I’m just not digging his more mainstream superhero stuff. Hawkeye on the other hand…is GREAT!

I will keep reading FF for a few more issues though.

“I also hold Hickman’s run to probably be the best Fantastic Four has ever been.”

I respectfully disagree. Kirby/Lee,Byrne, then Hickman for me. Throw in Waid and Ringo and you never really need to read another Fantastic Four comic. I liked this first issue, more for Bagley than Fraction though.

I hate the AR graphics. They distract me from getting into the book every time I see them.

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