Fantastic Four # 584’s cover shows the Thing transforming back into Ben Grimm. The cover by Alan Davis, Mark Farmer and Javier Rodriguez should have had a better concept, and as I look at it now–I still cannot figure out why a collaboration of such talent produced such a dull cover. The interior of the comic is much better; Steve Epting’s pencils are strong and detailed and give us enough of the old Fantastic Four merged with the present to satisfy even long time fans. Jonathan Hickman’s narrative takes us places we have been before, but with twists and turns that make it an enjoyable ride.
Reed’s Future Foundation has come up with a formula to change the Thing back to Ben Grimm for one week at a time each year. The story takes us through one day with Ben and Johnny while Sue goes off to perform her duties as an envoy in the negotiations with one of the lost Tribes. This lost tribe happens to be Old Atlantis and of course, Prince Namor, Atlantis’ current ruler is present. Hickman is good at the details and there are many touching moments as Ben gets to experience life outside the shell of the Thing. Epting’s art at the meeting of Namor and Sue is economical and when Namor appears, he gives us only Sue’s eyes in a panel for her reaction. It is very effective. Hapless as ever, Reed is deeply involved in researching a “cascading energy bleed” in space when the Silver Surfer appears. The Surfer is disturbed about something he found buried in the earth at the end of last issue, and this takes us to the cliffhanger ending.
This is a well-told story that takes us back to the more innocent days of comics and gives us a funny twist on the “Yancy Street Gang”. It really did put me in mind of the early days when the Fantastic Four was still written by Stan Lee and penciled by Jack Kirby. It is fitting that they are in this issue too! See if you can spot them. The art is exceptional and Epting is good with expressions–the meeting of Sue and Emma Frost at the negotiations is a highlight. Here is hoping that both Hickman and Epting stay with the book for a while.
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