Writer Mark Waid and artist Mike Wieringo kicked off an exceptional run on Fantastic Four with a promotional 9-cent issue that encapsulates what makes the FF great. It reads almost like a mission statement, though it’s done in a thoroughly entertaining manner.
Reed Richards hires a PR firm to reinvigorate the FF’s celebrity brand…which is of course odd that he would care about such a thing, thereby providing interesting subtext to the issue. So a publicist shadows the FF for a week, observing not only their wild adventures, but also how they relate to each other as a family. And the publicist learns what the real-world movie producers apparently never did.
The Fantastic Four aren’t actually superheroes, not primarily. They’re explorers who pioneer the unknown and chart the new. Reed’s scientific genius will result in the discovery of a new dimension, and his family will have his back as he explores it, hoping to glean new knowledge that can help build a better tomorrow. And the adventures are frequently crazy and colorful, and always starring four people who care a great deal about each other (even despite tendencies to bicker). This issue glimpses several wild situations, whetting the reader’s appetite for the fun to follow in subsequent stories.
And at the end, the reveal about why Reed would care about his family’s celebrity status shows a perfect understanding of the character.
Judge the FF on this, not the movies.
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciler: Mike Wieringo
Inker: Karl Kesel
Publisher: Marvel Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Fantastic Four by Waid & Wieringo Ultimate Collection, Book 1 (TPB)
Appropriate For: ages 9 and up