So, now that the title has finally slogged through to the end of Millar and Hitch’s run, it’s time for Fantastic Four to get a new creative team. Since “tried and tested” didn’t work out so well last time, Marvel has gone the other direction, and given us a pair of relative newcomers. And it seems to have worked pretty well.
Since Millar and Hitch’s run felt like a dud almost from the outset, a lot of the energy and momentum of Fantastic Four was lost. The first issue of this new arc brings it back in spades. Hickman has already completed an arc on the characters in their “Dark Reign” spin-off series, and although this should effectively be the start of his run, he’s quickly referencing his own story. Luckily, it’s done in such a way that new readers won’t necessarily notice, and as we all know, that’s the proper way to use continuity – as complementary, not essential reading.
Eaglesham gives us bold and traditional superheroics – a welcome departure from Hitch’s ultra-realism. After all, Fantastic Four is one book where realism isn’t part of the appeal. Eaglesham draws a Fantastic Four that look like superheroes, while Hickman writes them as such. Well, I say “them” – this is more of a Reed Richards solo issue than anything. There’s room for that sort of story within the scope of a team book, of course, but it’s odd that he doesn’t start his run with a definitive statement about all four characters. Whether he’ll expand beyond Reed-as-protagonist in the future remains to be seen, but on the other hand… he does write a good Reed. This is a character I want to see more of.
Making the Fantastic Four a potentially interesting read is a difficult task for any writer – arguably, the title hasn’t had a run that truly stood the test of time since Byrne’s two decades ago. Hickman is the first writer in a long time to look like he might have a chance at breaking the mold without trying to reinvent it too, and if the last page is anything to go by, this arc is going to be one hell of an opening shot.