The long awaited relaunch of Marvel’s First Family continues in this second issue from the team of Dan Slott, Sara Pichelli, and Marte Gracia.
Right from the start the story of The Fantastic Four has been one about family. And as the years have past by this family has grown quite a bit. What began with Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny gradually expanded to include Reed and Sue’s children, Franklin and Valeria. Then, with the creation of the Future Foundation, a whole bunch of youngsters entered into the family… there were the two young Mutants, Artie and Leach; the super intelligent Moloids known as Tong, Mik, Korr and Turg; former Power Pack member, Alex Power; the young clone of the Wizard known as Bentley 23; a wiz kid from Wakanda named Onome, a pair of fishlings named Vil and Wi; and the kids’ android guardian, Dragon Man. Quite the household!
Last seen, this extended family had helped to bring about the end of the Secret Wars. With the aide of the omni-powerful Molecular Man, the entire multiverse was recreated and put back together. Ben and Johnny were returned to 616 universe yet the others remained behind. Franklin and Owen Reese, The Molecular Man, were creating whole new worlds and universes and the allure of discovery and adventure was too much for Reed and the others to pass up on. So they all ventured out to explore these new realms as they were created.
It would seem that quite a bit of time has passed since then. What has only been a year or so for Ben and Johnny in the 616 Universe appears to have been several years for the rest of the family; and the kids all appear to be much older… Valeria was barely more than a toddler when last seen, yet now she appears to be around 12 or so; and her brother has gone from a preadolescent to a gangly teenager… The other kids have grown as well. And they all seem to be having a blast.
Yet in quieter moments, Val and Franklin admit to one another missing their old life. They miss their uncles, Ben and Johnny. And Valeria is growing up quite fast. Whereas before she enjoyed nothing more than science and discovery and building death-rays, now she fines herself pinning for the sort of stuff many 14-year-olds are interested in. In particular, she misses the dashing Arboro, the Prince Namor looking alien who had taken a shine to her…
Still, their mom and dad have essentially been offered the sense of ‘happily ever after’ that always seemed out of their grasp and neither sibling wants to infringe on that.
The next day, Franklin is preparing to create yet another universe for them to explore when he suddenly discovers that this aspect of his powers seems to have dissipated. Reed and Owen had expected this day to come. Energy is finite and it was only a manner of time before Franklin’s capacity to generate matter on this scale would run its course and exhaust itself.
A sinister presence has been watching the family from afar… waiting for this exact moment. And now, witnessing that the ‘god-child’ has finally sent his power, she knows that it is time to strike.
Her name is The Griever and she proclaims herself the embodiment of entropy and the inevitable death of all things. It is her destiny to bear witness the ultimate heat death of the universe and grieve all that has been lost. And these mortal have been doing, creating new universe and new galaxies is seen by her as an abomination of the natural order… a matter that she seeks to put right.
It would seem that the family have dealt with such would-be threats in the past and The Molecule Man flies up to make short work of the interloper. And it is here that the true threat this Griever entity actually represents. She uses her powers and evaporates the Molecule Man, rendering him into raw energy quickly consumed by her giant caecilian-looking pets.
The others can only look on in horror. This being had just killed The Molecule Man. Is such a thing even possible? Reed is not going to stick around to find out. He rushes the others back into their jump craft fleeing the planet with The Griever and her pets in hot pursuit.
Through this chase, The Griever sets about on restoring order in accordance to her view of the universe. She destroys the various universes and worlds that Franklin and the others had created. One by one entire galaxies and civilizations are snuffed out and rendered back into cosmic dust and dissipated energy.
Reed and the others can only watch on in horror as all their work is undone, barely able to comprehend the sheer magnitude of loss of life.
Bentley 23 and Alex Powers device a plan, an appropriate beach-head where they stand the best shot of making a stand against this monster. Fleeing to this local basically entails sacrificing countless universes that The Griever will destroy in her pursuit. Reed is comprehending the most macabre form of arithmetic… sacrificing hundreds of world in an effort to save thousands. Yet Bentley and Alex’s stratagem is snd and he concurs.
Well, Valeria just isn’t having it.
Fleeing to this beach-head means bypassing the planet where the issue had begun… a planet where Val had befriended a young alien prince whom she had developed quite the crush on. Val is not as coldly pragmatic as she had been in the past… this is a Val going through puberty; a Val who leads with her heart more than her head ands she is simply unwilling to let her friend perish.
She takes control of the jump craft, rerouting it and ultimately scuttling it on the planet. Prince Arboro witnesses the crash and run over to make sure Valeria is okay. She is, they all are… but for how long?
The Griever catches up with them, easy to use her awesome powers to do away from the annoyance that the family represents. Franklin seems to have lost his god-like powers, but he is still far from defenseless… he is still an Omega Level Mutant with powers on par with the likes of The Hulk, Silver Surfer and Thor. He attacks The Griever, yet as powerful as Franklin may be it would appear that The Griever is even more powerful.
She deflects Franklin’s attack and sends he careening to the ground where he lands hard, creating a crater. It tales him a moment to recuperate and when he climbs out from this crater he is terrified to see that the entirety of The Future Foundation has been thoroughly defeated by The Griever.
Floating above them all, The Griever laughs and mocks them. ‘This is the fabled Fantastic Four?’ she asks, adding that she is a bit disappointed that they had put up such paltry fight.
Reed offers a retort. He states that this isn’t the actual Fantastic Four, this is just a group of children off on an adventure; The Griever would never stand a chance against the real Fantastic Four.
Insulted, The Griever takes the bait. These humans would dare to underestimate her awesome powers? She accepts the challenge and summons forth one of her transmaterializers… some sort of device that can transport objects across the multiverse. She changes Reed to use to bring forth his champions, his ‘real’ Fantastic Four so that she may prove her might by defeating them as thoroughly as she has all others.
It’s a trap, for certain, but Reed appears to feel confident that it is a trap he can reconfigure to their benefit. He and Sue work on this strange, transmaterializer device and it’s a recapitulation of the scene shown near the end of issue #1. They activate it and, galaxies away, a large number four presents itself in the upper orbit of earth.
This giant four is not a sign, symbol or call for help. It is actually a kind of teleportation beam and Ben and Johnny find themselves suddenly risks away, transported across the cosmos to alongside the rest of their family.
It’s the reunion we’ve all been looking forward to, yet there is no time for catching up… The Fantastic Four has a job to do.
The Griever, meanwhile appears upset. What sort of trickery has Reed Richards been up to? Fore it turns out that Reed hasn’t beckoned just the primary members of the Fantastic Four, but every member, every hero who has ever stood in among the ranks of the FF!
It’s an awesome sight. This collection of heroes may or may not have what it takes to defeat a being whose powers are as substantial as those of The Griever. But they’re certain to put up quite a fight!
And it is on this cliffhanger that this second issue comes to a close with the promise of continuation in the next installment.
This second issue of the series very much felt like a first issue, like we are getting two first issues for the series – one focusing on Ben and Johnny back on earth, and a second focusing on Reed Sue and the kids. Sure why not? First issues are fun. They’re challenging to create I imagine, but if Slott, Pachelli and the gang are up to then I say bring it on.
The Griever is an interesting new villain. She seems to be some lost member of the bigger tier cosmic heavies (like the Inbetweener, Grandmaster and Living Tribunal). She certainly seems a very tough customer and, even with the enhanced forces, I’ve no idea for the Fantastic Four will ultimately triumph against her.
Val’s finding herself having a bit of a crush on Arboro was just hilarious, especially in light of how much he reminds Sue of Prince Namor. I guess the preverbal apple doesn’t fall to far from the tree ;3
The Molecule Man’s apparent death was both surprising and unsettling. I understand that writing him out might be something of a necessity for the plot. Yet it unfolded in sort of a coldblooded fashion. It also sort of smacked of the old school trope where a story will show off how powerful a new character is by having them defeat or kill an already established super powerful character.
All this aside, what really resonated with me in this issue is just how wild it is to see Franklin, Val and the others all as teenagers. I’ve known Franklin for a long time. He’s actually a good deal older than I am, having debuted way back in 1968 in the pages of Fantastic Four Annual #6. And he’s been stuck as a toddler for most of that time. Seeing him and his sister as suddenly young adults is quite something.
And also a very much welcome change. Franklin has been the face of the future generation of the Marvel pantheon for as long as I can remember and it’s about time to see him have some more grown up adventures (all the time-displaced versions of him that have appeared here and there not withstanding).
I’m more than ready to see Franklin and Val take on a greater role in the stories in the future. Of course doing so is likely going to necessitate a dramatic reduction in Franklin’s power-levels. It would be hard to craft a tale with any sense of real peril if Franklin could just whisk away any threat with a wave of his hand. And this seems to be the case as Franklin has spent the majority of his abilities, leaving him still very tough, but not god-level tough.
That last scene is poster worthy. So awesome to see the whole extended roster of the Fantastic Four together (along with, for some unknown reason, IceMan). Although I was sort of disappointed not to see Moon Girl, Devil Dinosaur, Ahura, Luna and Adolf Impossible among the extended FF members (then again, Reed doesn’t know yet about Lunella and he’s likely reluctant to bring more youngsters into this dangerous fray).
Will these reinforcements prove enough to put an end to the threat posed by The Griever realms to be seen… Although I’m sure Reed has still more tricks up his sleeve and I’m very, very much looking forward to seeing what happens in issue three.
Once again Sara Pachelli and Marte Gracia outdo themselves in the art department. This second issue isn’t as finely polished as the first, but they’re also asked to depict a huge array of different settings as well as a rather large ensemble cast. All and all, it’s a beautiful comic to behold and the art matches the way out nature of the story just wonderfully.
Of course recommended. Four out of five Lockjaws!