Monday, July 27, 2009

Comic Review: Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #5 (Marvel Comics) by Adam P.

Launching Into the Ongoing Title's New Creative Team

The five-issue Dark Reign: Fantastic Four limited series wraps up this month. It serves as both an epilogue to Secret Invasion/Civil War and a prologue to the new creative team of Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham who take the reins of the ongoing title with issue #570. As a whole, Dark Reign: Fantastic Four works well in both of these roles and proves itself to be a worthwhile mini-series rather than an editorial afterthought, filler or a cash-grab.

Reed builds a machine call the Bridge (which is visually reminiscent of the dimensional portal from Stargate) to explore different realities and examine how the Secret Invasion/Civil War/Dark Reign saga played out elsewhere. He looks at which factors influenced positive or negative outcomes. The entire team is tied up in the endeavour and thus only Reed and Sue's kids Franklin and Valeria are left to defend the headquarters from the intrusion of Dark Reign architect Norman Osborn.

By this issue, Reed has drawn the necessary conclusions from the Bridge and the Fantastic Four have emerged to square off against Osborn. It's a moment where the FF shine and show themselves worthy of the title of Marvel's first family. The kids act brave, Sue is defiant as a lioness defending her cubs and Reed stares down Osborn into retreat.

Yet Reed is hiding key elements of his Bridge discoveries from Sue which seemingly tie into his Plan #101 (a.k.a. "Solve Everything") introduced by writer Dwayne McDuffie back in issue #551. The entire FF agreed to execute Reed's plan to solve all the world's problems at the end of issue #553, so Dark Reign: Fantastic Four is adding a nice twist to its eventual implementation.

Jonathan Hickman scripted the Dark Reign: Fantastic Four mini-series and will be joined by Dale Eaglesham (Justice Society of America) in late August on the ongoing series, of which we get a welcome seven-page preview tacked onto the end of this issue. Eaglesham's artwork definitely looks more intricate and well-suited to the team than Sean Chen's sometimes toned-down and sketchy work in the mini-series.

Anyone following the main series would do well to acquaint themselves with Dark Reign: Fantastic Four, which will be rendered all the more convenient with the release of a trade paperback in October.

Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Sean Chen and Lorenzo Ruggiero

Adam P.
Review Co-Editor

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