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Fantastic Four: Grand Design Paperback – February 11, 2020
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Moreso than the X-Men (or probably any other Marvel book), the history of the Marvel Universe flows through the FF. From Doom (easily one of the two most important non heroes, along with Magneto) to Galactus to Kree-Skrull to Marvel Space, most of the major mega events of Marvel's first three decades involve the FF. It was really the beginning of the Lee-Kirby partnership.
It really disappointed me. Piskor clearly has had a lifelong love affair with the X-Men, and it showed. He knew the history cold and in some ways, his rewriting to make it tighter was an improvement. Scioli actually left comics several years ago...and nothing here or online suggests that he has a deep love or relationship to the FF. The Marvel editors erred when giving him the book.
I like the art, and the format's fantastic, but this book reads like a less informative wiki page.
Panel 1: Dr. Doom showed up!
Panel 2: Then they beat him! Thing: "Clobbered him up"
Panel 3: Fin Fang Foom shows up!
Panel 4: Then they beat him! Human Torch: "Hot enough for ya?"
It's just like that, for 12 panels a page, all book long. A series of context free encounters that shows little change or evolution of the characters. It gets a little interesting when it takes dips out of canon to explore some of Scioli's own ideas, but these moments are few and far between until we hit the frankly jarring ending.
It's a shallow exploration of the FF's classic history with pretty art. I feel like if you are a big fan of classic FF, you might really love this. As a casual fan, I just found it tedious. I respect it for the amount of work Scioli must have put into it, but the end result just isn't a fun read.
As with the X-Men, there is some re-writing of history from the original run of the comics which I didn't love but it was fine.
The big issue was trying to cram so much history in such a short space.
A large story line was often covered in a single panel but it didn't make sense if you didn't already know what happened. Maybe that was the goal but it seemed too compacted.
"Sue Storm, high society grifter" LOL Sue straight up stole a $10M diamond necklace, and ran off invisible. It was hinted this was a Skrull but not overtly clarified.
Ben (to Johnny bemoaning the loss of Crystal), "Cheer up, kid, dames like her are a dime a dozen".
Ben attacking Galactus in the face: "BASH, BASH, BASH" then over comes Torch and just lights his entire head ablaze.
When Doom takes the Silver Surfer's power ... Sue: "Oh no! What will we do now??" Reed (hand covering his face): "Nothing, the world belongs to DOOM now!"
Reed is made out to be aloof and absent, and Sue regularly pines for the more normal acting Namor.
Franklin is actually Namor's kid, not Reed's. Reed's expression after walking in on Sue/Namor after returning from Battleworld is priceless!
Johnny in a 4 way make out session on Galactus' ship with Crystal, Medusa, Alicia/Lyja ... totally priceless!
And a million other little things.
The book is told in a very dense 25-panel grid page style layout. Some original FF issues' worth of story are frequently told in 1-2 panels ("some alien kid showed up, we beat him"), whereas others (Galactus, the Inhumans, Black Panther intros, etc.) all take up a full page or two. Then finally the last couple of pages of the book cover the FF era from roughly 1987 post-Battleworld thru the end of the series with Franklin in the far future. It was almost like Scioli was like "Oops! Gotta wrap this up, I'm almost out of pages" but it's totally great.
Obviously this book is aimed squarely at long time readers familiar with the FF, and any new reader would find the dense storytelling nature of the book a turn-off, but for old school Marvel fans, this book is a must! A+++++++