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The Fifth Color | Keep your eye on the Fantastic Generation Gap

FF #12 Cover

What, did you think I was going to show the panel? Go buy this book!

There is a page in FF #12 that would knock Jerry Springer’s socks off. Not in trashiness, but in the complexity of the relationships of the people on panel. Let’s see who we have here: there’s an alternate Reed Richards who came from a collective of Reed Richards..es. There is the time-traveling Nathanial Richards, his not-quite father. Doctor Doom sits collared by the machinations of alter-Reed, while Kristoff demands justice for his not-exactly father and the inherited name of Doom. Did I mention there’s a Wikipedia entry that has hinted that Nathaniel Richards might actually be Kristoff’s biological father? Yeah, wrap your head around this, because this is key: the relationships of these people on this page are why no one should be dropping this title due to the return of the Fantastic Four.

Potential spoilers for Fantastic Four #600 and FF #12 after the jump!

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The Fifth Color | Your supporting cast and you

Fantastic Four #600

Spider-Man can be on every team!

So, yeah, it looks like Fantastic Four, one of the most important comics to come from the House of Ideas, will return for its 600th issue. A momentous occasion to be sure, as a little less than a year seems to be about enough time for people to understand Johnny Storm’s place on the team, what makes the Fantastic Four different without one of its founding members and, hopefully, we’ll all appreciate him a little more now that he’s … well, on the cover. Gotta wait for the issue to be super-sure, but let’s give the boys in the Bullpen the benefit of the doubt and say that the Human Torch is back to stay.

Technically, he’s been gone for nine months, an auspicious amount of time as the rest of his team has somewhat given birth to an absolutely new idea: the Future Foundation. A sort of in-house Illuminati, if you will; the same old adventuring team paired off with its greatest villains, looking to safeguard all their interests at once. The white-and-black uniforms don’t really do that idea justice, do they? That’s a lot of gray area to be working with. And in the end, it was all masterminded by a little girl named Valeria.

The Richards’ kids have their own plot, their own motivations and their own secrets to keep. These two supporting characters have taken a lot of the center stage, both in Future Foundation and even in Fear Itself (seriously, go read Book Five and tell me these kids don’t deserve their own title). Franklin’s been around for years, an interesting new generation that actually was born and grew into an independent character as we read. He’s like the child actor who grows up and gets his own prime-time TV show.

Tell me that’s not cool. Tell me that seeing background or supporting characters step into the foreground and, sometimes, even get their own books is not a masterful trick of storytelling. Writer Jonathan Hickman wasn’t telling the story of the Death of Johnny Storm, he was telling us of the Rise of Franklin and Valeria. And now when November hits, Future Foundation stories will have gotten their foundation, so to speak, and support themselves as their own title while the newly reformed FF can go have a different style of adventure.

More about character balance, the size of your supporting cast and M.O.D.O.K. fighting Nazis after the break …

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