Crimespree on Comics: Jo Schmidt – FANTASTIC FOUR: We’re Watching History Happen

Fantastic Four: We’re Watching History Happen

What was missing from a book about the world’s smartest man and his team of adventurers? Until recently it was the science. Fantastic Four has always been a “cosmic” book. Far-out space odysseys, enemies filled with scientific mystique, and family togetherness is exactly what it should be. Every now and then a writer will come in and accomplish the perfect combination. The legendary John Byrne and Walt Simonson are two great examples. As was Mark Waid’s underappreciated run. But right now, there is a writer who is taking Fantastic Four to greater, grander and more incredible places than anyone could have imagined. Jonathan Hickman.

At first, it was just nice to have someone who cared about characters over trying to make explosions happen. Mark Millar was the previous writer, and his books sold like crazy. His stories made no sense, but hey it worked for Marvel. Then we got a writer, who is smart. Not just smart, brilliant. And he applied his knowledge to make Fantastic Four the book to read from Marvel. Hickman is one of those writers who embraces the past. All of it. Even the scary times called “the 90’s.” Did you know that Reed Richard’s dad was a time traveling pseudo-villain? Or that Franklin is one of the world’s most powerful mutants? Hickman did and he brought it all back, subtly. He slid these little things in and worked up stories with in stories. But from the very beginning you tell he planned something huge.

In his first story, “Solve Everything,” Mr. Fantastic literally tries to do just that. And he does it by joining a new team, made up of other Reeds from different dimensions. Only some are more, impassioned than others. They may be the same person but they are completely different. This clever idea sets off the rest of his run, that is still going on now. The return of the Inhumans to Earth by introducing the Four Cities. A new concept that we’re only just starting to discover the truth for. Mr. Fantastic starts an school of sorts, for geniuses. The Future Foundation. It’s here minor characters shine. Forgotten hero Alex Power formerly of the adolescent team, the Power Pack, is all grown up and a mentor. Whereas Reed’s daughter, Valeria is quickly becoming smarter than her dad, only without the years of empathy one gains from life. Let’s put it this way; she considers Dr. Doom her uncle…

Chances are you heard about the death of Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, last year. It was an epic story that ended the first chapter of the saga being crafted. Last month Fantastic Four hit issue #600 and changed everything again. There are now two ongoing books. Fantastic Four and FF, the latter of which stands for Future Foundation. Both written are by Hickman and both books working two sides of the same coin. After how far and how much has come already, it’s beyond imagination where it’s going to go from here. It’s not going to slow down, so start reading now. It’s the best thing you can do for your brain.

Jo Schmidt