I'm a big fan of any attempts at realism in comics. Specifically, consequences for super-heroics. Since Marvel and James Robinson 're-started' the series, there's been a forecast that the FF were going to hit hard times— something bad enough to drive them all apart. That day may have arrived: the Fantastic Four's day in court. (Spoilers below for issue #5.)
After the nigh-disastrous encounter with Negative Zone
monsters mutated humans, SHIELD and the NYPD decided to take a closer look in Reed Richard's lab. Specifically for weapons of mass destruction, et al. This investigation has spread to include the entire team, who have been brought up on massive charges... that are entirely relevant, appropriate, and just. It's a bad day for the Fantastic Four. Possibly the worst they've ever seen.
Writer James Robinson does a marvelous job of re-capping the FF's greatest hits. The continuity (loose as it sometimes is, in comics) includes plenty of instances when innocent people were hurt in the crossfire of their larger-than-life battles. Leonard Kirk's artwork is crisp, neat, and meets well with Jesus Arbotov's colors. The FF ate under scrutiny, and their visual representation is grand.
Speaking of representation, Jennifer Walters is theirs. Even if she weren't better known as She-Hulk, the task of defending the FF is nothing less than Herculean. Their greatest hits were catastrophes for the powerless civilians around them.
Right here is the biggest reason you need to buy this comic, FYI. Marvel tapped former FF illustrators to re-draw scenes from their glory days. Chris Samnee. Phil Jiminez. Mike Allred. Jerry Ordway. To see these events in contrast to the present artwork helps cement the notion that they were simpler times, times which are in fact over.
It's incredibly damning stuff. The prosecution, Mr. Toliver, lays out event after event when the FF accidentally ruined lives... and didn't always make reparations. His strategy brings him to the present and pertinent accusation: namely that the Fantastic Four recklessly house WMDs in the heart of New York City. And it. Is. Fair.
Richards does this. Constantly. And while I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone better equipped to handle such dangerous weapons, dimensional gateways, etc., he's still dropped the ball, before. Like in the first two issues of this very story arc. The FF are a danger to themselves and others.
'Others' including their own children. After the verdict is handed down, police arrive on the court building's steps to inform Sue Storm that she's been deemed an unfit mother. They don't even bother using captions. The moment doesn't even need words. It's just there. And it is excruciating.
I want the FF to pull out a win, here. I take no pleasure in watching them lose, and lose hard. What I do like is the acknowledgment that their Fantastic feats have real-world consequences. That is something lovely to see.
And then, because it's still a comic book, you have Doctor Doom duking it out with Count Nefaria. Doom's trying to turn over a new leaf, kinda, on behalf of his god-daughter, Valeria. He's pitting his weapons for evil against other bad guys, which is nice.
The book wraps on the FF's large collection of kids being transported to foster care, care of SHIELD and their new sponsor. It's a clever reveal (one I won't spoil here).
Go pick up the comic! It's another great chapter in a consistently good arc.
Casey Jones is a writer of comics and screenplays. You can find his work here.