Collects Fantastic Four #554-561

Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary, Andrew Currie, Matt Banning, Cam Smith

I love Hitch’s art and he’s in top form here, so the art is fantastic! Except for some really weird faces on Alyssa and some of the other women who apparently talk with their tongues out.

Millar’s writing promises big things to come and he does start with a bang: the FF are returning from a time travel journey. Then Reed’s old girlfriend Alyssa returns and she needs Reed to consult something. It turns out that Alyssa’s new husband is also a genius scientist and he’s built another Earth because according to their calculation this Earth is going to be uninhabitable in less than ten years. Not from a supervillain attacks but from environmental collapse. And rather than trying to stop it, it’s easier to duplicate the Earth in a parallel dimension. It’s called “Nu-Earth”. Well, not everything will be duplicated. Weapons won’t be and the geniuses also built a huge robot to keep the peace. Of course, the robot (called Cap) gets loose and tries to kill everyone.

Meanwhile, Johnny rans across a supervillain who’s robbing a diamond shipment. Instead of arresting her, he sleeps with her. He’s also building a band and his house is rigged into a reality show. Ben has a new (ordinary teacher) girlfriend and Susan is forming a charity.

The second story arch is “The Death of the Invisible Woman” and it brings back Dr. Doom and introduces a new villain group, the New Defenders. In fact, the New Defenders are hunting Doom who needs help from Reed. But Reed and Sue are away so the New Defenders wreck the Building fighting Ben and in the end take the rather worn-out Doom with them. Reed is determined to find him and we’re shown that the group is headed by a very familiar green giant.

Oh and the Richards’ have a new and mysterious nanny. She’s a sweet old lady who is really good with the kids. But soon we find out that she knows more about Valeria than her parents.

Millar takes the FF back to their roots, as Marvel’s first family. Unfortunately, he also resets everything the group’s learned in the (recent) years. In a way this is the perfect time for new readers to pick up the comic because no background information is needed. Johnny is, once again, the irresponsible teenager, Reed the genius with his head in calculations, Ben a jock with a heart of gold, and Susan is the responsible one. Unfortunately, I found these FF more obnoxious than heroic. Johnny is especially terrible: he’s arrogant and thoughtless. Susan is jealous about Reed and women sigh over Reed and Ben. In essence, they’re movie stars. Like in many FF stories before Millar’s, Reed’s story is the only one which really matters.

To me this was a frustrating read because Millar has a lot of interesting ideas (Galactus Engine!) and he works with troupes I really like. I also enjoyed the new villains and even more when I found out who they really were. But I was less happy with the representation of the characters and where the stories went.

The collection has entertaining stories but not as great as they could have been.

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