To start this review in a personal way, I’ve been reading Marvel’s True Believers line of reprints, picking up a couple every Wednesday. It’s a cheap way to read some classic Lee/Kirby comics, one of which I picked up along with Fantastic Four #5 (also the series’ 650th issue over-all). It was a reprint of Fantastic Four Annual #3, which featured the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm. It was so strange to read two wedding issues about the same superhero team separated by several decades of publication in one afternoon. Doing so reveals what works well about this comic and where it falters, namely in how long Slott takes to tell his story. Stan and Jack’s comic was lean and to the point, whereas the wedding of Alicia Masters and Benjamin Grimm was anything but that.
Fantastic Four #5 is told in three chapters, with the main story dealing with the wedding and two side stories connected to it. The first part of the issue is an extended flashback courtesy of Susan Richards as she helps Ben practice his dance moves in preparation for his big day. Slott and artist Mike Allred retell the Fantastic Four’s origin from the perspective of Sue Richard’s to explore her relationship with Ben Grimm, which also features a recap of Ben and Alicia’s romantic history. It’s a sweet story that has Allred channeling his inner Jack Kirby for maximum effect, but it’s almost twenty pages long, with much of it being recap of older issues.
The second chapter, roughly the same length, is beautifully drawn by Adam Hughes and focuses on the bachelor party Johnny Storm puts together for Ben Grimm. It has some great character moments and has fun with superhero wedding conventions, but also feels longer than it should be. The issue’s finale, the actual wedding fans have been waiting for, also feels needlessly stretched out considering the main event is the ceremony. This whole comic could have been told in about forty pages, as there isn’t enough story to justify such a big volume.
The character moments, however, are great and make this comic worth picking up regardless of the steep price. Ben’s relationship with the other members of the team is highlighted, through Sue’s perspective of the foursome’s origin and a brief but thoughtful “guy talk” moment with Johnny. Johnny contemplating his life choices in the face of a friend’s wedding is a very human moment grounds the super powered high-jinks of the evening. It reveals the crucial role Ben play on the team and how important this surrogate family became in his life. This trio of stories continues Slott’s emphasis on family in his Fantastic Four series and how the characters are always better when they’re together.
Slott also, as mentioned earlier, plays with superhero wedding conventions in the form of a last-minute surprise for the happy couple. Prior to this, Ben makes a point of not wanting a big wedding that attracts unwanted attention, similar to the one Reed and Sue had. However evil finds a way because that’s just part of being a hero. They’re on call 24/7 and it’s difficult to avoid the intrusion of villains into their very public lives. However, Slott’s ending twist, a wonderful pay-off to the issue’s running gag of distracted Reed, reminds readers that you have to appreciate the small moments without getting too caught up in the chaos that is life.
Slott ends this overly-long, yet heartwarming special with a tease for the fantastic things to come in 2019, expertly blending the teaser into the issue’s larger thematic concerns. I can’t wait for January 16th and the beginning of ‘Herald of Doom’!
Rating: 3.5/5 – This didn’t need to be forty pages, but is a good read nonetheless.
What did you think of Slott’s last Fantastic Four comic of 2018? Leave a comment and let us know!