Fantastic Four #5
The Fantastic Four are reunited and all is well...until their convoy is interrupted by NICK SCRATCH and SALEM'S SEVEN! It's an all-out magical BATTLE for SURVIVAL right there on the highway, and the Fantastic Four 100% fail to win it. That's right! This solicit isn't going the way you thought it would! As the truth of what happened is puzzled out, Reed, Sue, Ben, Johnny and Alicia all realize that something more sinister has taken place, and their only hope of undoing it is an impromptu voyage into the unknown...
Following the events of last issue the Fantastic Four are back together (if not necessarily popular). North’s first four issues centered around the humanity of the team members, helping readers get to know each of them again before wading too deep into the sometimes wacky, sometimes complicated plots that Marvel’s first family manages to find themselves in. But now that everyone’s together again, Fantastic Four #5 is going to deliver science, magic, abstract dimensions, and an unfortunate aftermath to lunch.
Fantastic Four #5 opens with Ben and Alicia’s truck and the Fantasticar are stuck in traffic. The highway is blocked by Nicholas Scratch and Salem’s Seven who are out to get revenge against Reed Richards. After the briefest of fights, Scratch seems to spin the Fantastic Four about before retreating into the Dark Dimension. Everything is fine until the team stops for lunch. They find themselves sick immediately, and Reed deduces that Scratch somehow inverted the molecules at the heart of their genetic structure. Reed ponders the team’s encounter with Scratch, discounts that magic is actually the cause of the problem, and looks for a scientific solution.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Fantastic Four #5 is that the underpinnings of the plot rest on actual science. The problem North describes, while not a concern on Earth, could theoretically happen if humanity expanded to planets beyond Earth. It’s a story idea that pops up in science fiction. Fantastic Four has always played fast and loose with science. Like so many things, the science has to be balanced with the plot’s needs. Sometimes that means the science can be very on the nose. Sometimes that means some technobabble gets thrown out and quickly ignored. North’s inclusion of real science as the basis of the plot is instructive for the series’ potential. This is a writer who isn’t afraid to take something real and potentially complicated, bring it to his readers, trust them to pay attention, and then use it to justify a superhero story.
Science isn’t the only thing North brings to the table in Fantastic Four #5, though. Having the full team back together means returning to the character oriented focus that is often present in the series. For all the intricacies of plots, Fantastic Four works best when the family dynamic is hard at work. North has a strong grasp of that here, whether it’s the playfully antagonist humor between Johnny and Ben, the combination of support and strength that makes Sue so powerful, and the brilliance that drives Reed but never overwhelms his connection to family. These are people that everyone will want to spend time with.
Fiorelli takes over the art duties for this issue. His work with the characters is as strong as Coello and his style is not a big change. Fiorelli gets to show off in the final pages, though, when the team pursues Scratch to the Dark Dimension. It’s not just an action sequence. Fiorelli depicts a number of abstract sequences that command attention–practically commanding that you stare at them for a moment. These abstract forms and fractals inside what is usually a magical realm for Marvel is a wonderful visual reminder of something that Reed discussed earlier in the issue: he doesn’t believe in magic and approaches the situation scientifically.
Fiorelli’s layouts are noteworthy. The scenes with Scratch and Salem’s Seven are laid out more chaotically. There are few right angles. The panels themselves are less orderly and are presented without much symmetry on the page. The effect is furthering the sense of magic and science in collision.
Aburtov gets to go wild in the issue’s final pages as well. The colors are wild and vivid. Aburtov’s work is as intense as Fiorelli’s in this sequence, and it’s fun to see the two artists complementing each other so well.
Caramagna’s lettering is very understated throughout the issue. In a few places he emphasizes names or phrases in dialogue, but largely the lettering in this issue keeps a low profile.
Fantastic Four #5 continues the series’ stellar new run. North’s writing is a little more complex. And though the artist is different here, the issue doesn’t miss a step. This series remains a must-buy even for readers not usually dedicated to Fantastic Four.
Fantastic Four #5: Is it Magic?
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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