Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Comic Review: Fantastic Four #573

I was looking forward to this issue of the Fantastic Four, but found myself very much disappointed with it. See, this issue Ben and Johnny go on vacation to Nu-Earth. For those who don't know, Nu-Earth was a fantastic concept introduced a while ago during Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's run on the FF. Nu-Earth is an artificially constructed duplicate of Earth in the Negative Zone. It was suppose to be a fall back planet when Earth becomes uninhabitable. That doesn't work out, though, as survivors of the ruined Earth, from 100,000 years in the future, come back to the present. They colonize Nu-Earth instead.

Anyway, it was a great story - and it introduced a lot of fantastic new characters. Bruce Banner Jr (from Old Man Logan, another story written by Millar), Lightwave, and Psionics are a few of stand out characters. I was looking forward to seeing them again in this issue.

This story really sort of ruins the Nu-Earth concept. Ben and Johnny arrive on a ruined Nu-Earth, where the sun has turned into a black hole and the planet is on the verge of destruction. There's a time differential, and 8 years have passed on Nu-Earth. Things have changed. Lightwave and some form of Ultron have taken over the planet. Alyssa Moy, the engaging former collage flame of Reed Richard's (superbly written by Millar), has been reduced to being a brain in a robot. Her husband Ted Castle takes the lead in this story, as the one resisting Lightwave and Ultron. Bruce Banner Jr, thankfully, hasn't changed much - but he remains sitting in jail, a prisoner of Lightwave. The absolute worst character change, though is Psionics. She was the cute and engaging former girl friend to Johnny Storm - but now she's become a heartless and angry woman, who even goes so far as to kill what's left of Alyssa Moy by stepping on her brain.

I was only too thankful this story didn't continue any longer. The only real bright spots of the tale where of Valeria and Franklin Richards, who stowed away with Johnny and Ben on this trip. Valeria is super smart - even more so than her Dad - and she shows it off a lot. That might sound like an annoying character trait, but it comes off very as being very charming, seeing such a young girl talking about complex science to adults. Valeria fixes the gate between Nu-Earth and regular Earth - allowing Johnny and Ben to go home. Things remains utterly screwed up on Nu-Earth.

I might be inclined to dump all the blame on writer Jonathan Hickman. He only took over the title about three issues ago - and while his first arch was very nice, it wasn't ground breaking. It got by more on it's high concepts and touches of family moments. It's very good - but I'm not wowed. So - do I blame this entire reshaping of Nu-Earth on Hickman? I'm inclined not to, because since Millar and Hitch created Nu-Earth, it got a bad shake by being renamed Fantastic Force and given a mini-series. I didn't read it, but I did hear it was dead on arrival, so I imagine it didn't do very well. So, I'm thinking perhaps Marvel wanted to dump the whole Nu-Earth idea, or at least make it a less frequented location in the Marvel Universe. I noticed the cover of this issue was quite misleading, showing Ben and Johnny (with Franklin and Val) having the vacation they where expecting. So maybe plans where changed; I don't know, I'm only speculating. All I can say for certain is that this issue ruined the Nu-Earth concept, and that's a real shame.

I hate to say this, but I'm dropping the FF for now. I love the FF, and I love seeing the adventures of Reed and his family - but I need to drop some books from my pull list anyway.

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