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Fantastic Four Vol. 2: Unthinkable Paperback – December, 2003
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In 2003 the Fantastic Four were on their way towards issue 500, and of course, Marvel intended for this to be a big thing since Marvel's first family is among the most beloved group of characters in comics with a long history dating back to 1961. And what better way to build up to such an extravaganza than pitting the FF against their deadliest foe ever Dr. Doom? Mark Waid pens one of the best encounters ever between the hated foes which sees Doom literally doing the unthinkable. Fantastic Four: Unthinkable contains issues 67-70 and 500 - 502. This story is also recognized as one of Marvel's big events during the 2000 era.
Mark Waid shows his talents here very early with some sharp characterization, as he begins with Doom doing whatever necessary to reach that next level of power. He abandons something very sacred to him. He completely gives up trying to defeat Reed Richards through scientific means, instead he attacks the group in full force using magic. Waid appears to understand the character very well, and I don't recall Doom ever really taking such drastic steps before. The encounter is indeed heated as tempers begin to flare and the violence is taken up a notch.
Dr. Strange also makes an appearance in this story and I have to say his injection was indeed brilliant. The story is amazingly well paced delivering good action and character interactions. When coming away from the story you will learn a little more about the characters.
Now as fantastic as the story may seem, it could have actually been much better than this. Unfortunately, the dues ex machina effect plays too much of a role which resulted in some silly plot devices that had me rolling my eyes. If it wasn't for the aftermath of the battle, and the nice character driven ending to cap things off. I would've liked the book a lot less.
I enjoy Waid's dialog especially in regards to Ben Grimm aka the Thing. He speaks in a way real people with limited vocabulary would, you can feel he means well, but it's kind of hard to not laugh at how he words himself. Mike Wieringo's artwork has always been in the middle of the road with me. His designs have a cartoony look that I'm not really fond of. Dr. Doom's new armor didn't really appeal to me. However, the action panels looked pretty good, with the Thing suffering mighty blows that saw small pieces of his body being knocked off. The colors were done well though, vibrant, energetic like, which helped with the books entertainment.
Overall, this is a solid book, and downright amazing to those who can ignore the story elements I have a problem with. In any case, even if you're not a fan of the Fantastic Four, this is a story that will more than likely appeal to you. Recommended to most serious comic fans. Casual fans can find some enjoyment here as well. The book is around 200 pages.
Pros: Strong Characterization, dialog
Cons: Certain plot devices not to my liking
Waid and Wieringo really created a story that breathed new life into a set of characters that had gone up and down in quality for decades. The characters that started the Marvel Comics era, but ultimately was a mixed bag. This book should be known among the greats of the superhero genre. If you've literally never read a comic, you have no idea what a great villain Dr. Doom really is. But this book does not require you to be informed on years of continuity. It's a perfectly good place to drop right in to the Fantasti-car and buckle up!
(They don't really spend very much time in the Fantasti-car.)
It begins with Victor von Doom traveling in America anonymously (masked as always, but not recognizable), and through his narration, you will learn everything you need to know about him. The Four will introduce themselves enough, as well. It only takes the tiniest leap of faith to start reading this one, and it will take you on its perilous journey.
It should be understood that the title is "Fantastic Four: Unthinkable", as a complete story arc, as it is collected in the paperback. But it is subtitled as "Vol. 2", because it is the second collection of writer Mark Waid's run. However, the hardback titled "Fantastic Four Vol. 2" is a different set of stories. If you like "Unthinkable", you'll find "Authoritative Action" a very worthy sequel, but "Unthinkable" definitely stands alone.