Fantastic Four 48
Trapped alone inside the Baxter Building with no backup in sight, the Invisible Woman battles her way up 35 flights of death traps to stop the mad science of OUBLIETTE MIDAS! But with the clock running out on the Celestial's judgment, can Sue save her husband, Reed, from becoming the latest cog in the Exterminatrix's interdimensional war machine? Can the Thing and the Human Torch free themselves from Oubliette's twisted schemes, or will the hijacked Baxter Building prove to be the FF's ultimate undoing? It's Judgment Times Four, as the Fantastic Four don't plan to go down without a fight!
Sudden story twists, especially at the end, are difficult to pull off. Too many clues, and the reader gets ahead of the story. Too few clues and a major change can feel like a betrayal of the story the reader thought they were reading. The twist has to strike just the right balance. And that’s exactly what Fantastic Four #48 does.
Fantastic Four #48 picks up exactly where the previous issue left off with Invisible Woman tearing her way through Oubliette’s goons like John McClane through a bunch of second-rate Germans (in keeping with the Die Hard comparison that was used in advertising and my review). But it turns out that this isn’t really what the story is about.
Reed narrates Fantastic Four #48 as he did Fantastic Four #47. And like with Fantastic Four #47, I found him at times overwritten and very distracting. But it turns out, my own complaints about Reed’s narration notwithstanding, that this narration is setting up the story’s unexpected end–Pepose has been dropping clues all along. Focused on the nonstop excitement of Sue’s story, we’re apt to pay a little less attention to exactly what Reed is saying. The end–which completely reframes Fantastic Four #47-48–is surprising. But with a moment’s reflection, it makes perfect sense.
I must also address something I wrote in my review of Fantastic Four #47. In my final thoughts, I asserted that the story had little to do with Judgment Day and could have been told at any time. And indeed, the Die Hard component with Sue could have been. But it turns out that the real story at the heart of Fantastic Four #47-48 could only be told during Judgment Day.
Cabal’s work is on point again in Fantastic Four #48. Everybody gets some good visual moments (especially Johnny, who has his swagger back after crashing his car and shows off how great it is to be able to keep pizza hot while holding it). But the lion’s share of attention is again on Sue, who remains in full-on ass-kicking mode. Cabal never makes her look hesitant or gives her a sense of anything less than full resolve. This proves key because, eventually, the story does call for her to soften and offer an olive branch. It’s a believable pivot because of how Cabal has drawn her to that point.
There is a strange visual moment that takes place between Leo, the mechanic, and Johnny as the two tweak his car to get it through the forcefield around the Baxter Building. When the work is done, and Johnny hops in his car, Cabal draws a panel straight out of a commercial With Leo standing in front of his automotive shop’s logo, giving Johnny a thumbs up as (Pepose’s dialogue is Leo giving his money back guarantee). I couldn’t help but read into the thumbs up under the circumstances, but Leo does not have that telltale glowing red eye.
Caramagna does something I found very funny (whether I was supposed to or not, I don’t know). Oubliette eventually sics a bioengineered henchman called Space Boy on Sue. Caramagna uses a very over-the-top font for the character’s name, which amused me first because Space Boy is a ridiculous name and second because he is so easily dispatched later in the issue that getting a special font felt like a case of intentionally overselling him.
Fantastic Four #48 is a strong issue but in a different way from the previous one. As Die Hard in the Baxter Building, Fantastic Four #47 is more fun. But ultimately the end of this issue is more satisfying than simply foiling a caper would have been. And as an added bonus Pepose wrote one of the most clearcut, understandable judgments of the event.
Fantastic Four 48: Not Die Hard After All
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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