The Fantastic – When ten-year-old scientific genius Reed Richards is chosen to be part of the United States top research and development programme, events are set in motion that will give birth to the world’s First Family of Superheroes!
Twenty-one years later Reed Richards leads a pioneering research team that includes Susan Storm, her hot-headed, younger brother Johnny and Reed’s oldest friend Ben Grimm, into the parallel dimension known as the N Zone. Disaster strikes however, during the teleportation experiment’s main test-run and a remarkable metamorphosis takes place, endowing the incredible quartet with fantastic powers: powers that draw them in conflict with the monstrous Mole Man!
Ultimate Fantastic Four: The Fantastic collects the first six issues of the popular Fantastic Four modernization series set in the Ultimate universe, written by acclaimed comic scribes Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar (who literally live worlds apart) and illustrated by the legendary Adam Kubert of the well known Kubert stable of pencillers.
Widely acknowledged as the first real superhero group, the Ultimate Fantastic Four updates the classic flying into space origin and instead replaces it with a secretive government-initiated parallel dimension teleportation experiment gone awry – resulting in the birth of our four intrepid heroes, maintaining their original powers but making some significant changes in terms of age and personality to the four.
Of course what comes out of the six issues neatly bound to one another is pretty much the origin story, a little background history from each character, the initial awe and wonder at the new powers received and of course the obligatory first face-off – which just happens to be a particularly impressive lizard like monster that threatens all of Manhattan just by sneezing sort of thing.
It’s the classic tale revamped but with the new personality twists we get to see an awkward but intelligent Reed without his leadership abilities and a more direct and forceful Susan. Funnily enough though, despite their change in age, Johnny and the Thing pretty much stay as is, meaning that in the end there really wasn’t all that much that Millar and Bendis could throw at these two to initiate just that little bit of a change the Ultimate is so about.
In terms of writing, there is loads of depth in terms of story advancement and character building, but all beautifully wrapped up in some great dramatic moments tempered with a lot of humour and one liners, making it a great introduction for newcomers to the Fantastic Four lore but particularly satisfying to readers of old. These two widely differing in style writers have come together with a great collaboration that reads easily and well, maintains much of what makes Fantastic Four the Fantastic Four, but at the same time through a new slant on the story that is quite enjoyable to work through.
In terms of artwork, Ultimate Fantastic Four really shines brightly thanks to Kubert’s wildly energetic and detailed pencils, which he combines with some awesome and often quite exaggerated facial expressions that makes for a slick read. He nails the humorous moments right on the head and captures the intense action to great affect, making the Ultimate Fantastic Four quite the visual experience.
In addition to Adam’s great pencils, mention must be made of Danny Miki and John Dell’s great inks that do wonders to give that extra depth but maintain the crisp sharpness of the visuals, and paired up with Dave Steward’s great colouring palette, we’re let with a simply sublime looking product.
In summary, there really isn’t much not to like about this first collection of the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic series. Great writing with a modern twist on a classic storyline, good characters to relate to and some beautiful visuals, this is definitely one of those comic events well worth picking up – especially if you already fall well within the classic Fantastic Four fandom! :)
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_Fantastic_Four