Sunday, 17 June 2012

Review: Fantastic Four #607 - Return of the King (Well, Panther King, sort of)

Marvel's first family (well, half of them anyway, along with their growing brood of kids) travel to Wakanda to assist the Black Panther in this issue of Fantastic Four.

The first of a (presumably) two part story, Reed Richards has travelled to Wakanda believing that they need help recovering from the destruction of all Vibranium. What he discovers however, is that it is not it's Vibranium stores which are the problem, but a constant attack from an ancient evil, to which only the great intellect of Mister Fantastic can hope to save the day.

This issue is a hard one to categorize. While, most of it contains Hickman's usual skill, gone are the overarching, intertwinned plot threads. This is, without a doubt, the closest thing to a small, self-contained story Hickman has done (and most probably will do) in this run. This naturally free's up some things, and while it gives Hickman the freedom to do something different it doesn't change his talent for focusing on the long term details. Panther's abdication, the Doom attack that led to the loss of Vibranium, is all mentioned and Hickman continues to display a tremendous talent of instantly getting who a character is (T'Challa just sounded like T'Challa, and to my knowledge this is Hickman's first time writing him). However, there is a major problem with the flashback scenes (I seem to be having a major problem with those this week). While these are ultimately required to give the story context, I found them very difficult to follow and, in the end, detrimental to the pacing and interest of the full story.

However, while this is a major quibble, it's impact to me is softened by the return of FF veteran Karl Kesel to finish the art. Kesel seems to be the books go to guy, needed to fill in when needed, and though not been scene in a few years, his work continues to be as great as it was prior. I mean no offence to any other artist who worked on these characters, but Kesel's depiction is my preferred one.

There's is enough in this book to get me back for the next issue, but the flashback/exposition pages have really dented it's impact on me. While it's not the easiest thing, adding expo seamlessly into a story, I certainly believe it could have been done better than this. However, by just ignoring them (like I did second time round) the book becomes a much more interesting read.

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