Following their defeat of the Griever, it’s about damn time for the Fantastic Four to return home. Except, rather than returning to thunderous applause, the team returns to find another group fighting in their place. The Fantastix are on the scene in FANTASTIC FOUR #4, but they’re not quite as fantastic as they’d like you to believe.

It’s safe to say that having the Fantastic Four back has been a predominantly good thing, so far. Writer Dan Slott has put a lot of heart into this series, as I expected he would. The ever-present energy in Slott’s FANTASTIC FOUR is very similar to that of his SILVER SURFER series. FANTASTIC FOUR #4 keeps things moving in an incredibly fun way. Putting it simply, this is probably the best issue of the series so far.

Artist Sara Pichelli is sitting this one out, however. Instead, we have artists Stefano Caselli and Nico Leon joining Slott for this perfectly numbered issue. Caselli has been killing it recently with his work on WEST COAST AVENGERS, and Leon’s style is a great companion to Caselli’s. Their artistic styles combined make FANTASTIC FOUR #4 one good-looking issue.

Unpacking the Story of FANTASTIC FOUR #4

For a single 28-page comic, FANTASTIC FOUR #4 throws quite a lot at us. And, surprisingly, it’s all pleasantly coherent and easy to follow.

FANTASTIC FOUR #4 opens with a robbery in progress, thanks to the Wrecking Crew. Before the villains can get very far, though, they’re interrupted by New York’s newest super group, the Fantastix.

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FANTASTIC FOUR #4 page 3. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

We cut back to the alternate universe where the Fantastic Four and their extended family are stranded. Reed and Valeria quickly fix up a teleporter, so everyone can get home. Group by group, the heroes are all sent home, but not before each team has a limited goodbye with the rest of the larger group.

Finally, the Fantastic Four make their way home. Of course, they arrive in the midst of the battle between the Fantastix and the Wrecking Crew. Johnny being who he is jumps right into the thick of things, but only doing more harm than good. As this is going on, Ben and Franklin take a visit to Alicia, who insists she and Ben get married ASAP; she’s got the “life’s too precious and all that of nonsense” reasoning.

As the fight continues, Valeria and Reed figure out that the whole thing is a hoax. At least, for the most part. The Wrecking Crew were paid off to fake a fight with the Fantastix, but the new super group had no idea. So, of course, their PR person is promptly fired. The Fantastix keep the Baxter Building (they apparently purchased it), so long as they properly uphold the Fantastic Four’s legacy.

In the meantime, the Fantastic Four are moving into Ben’s place.

The Heart and Wit of FANTASTIC FOUR #4

It’s no joke when I say this is the best issue of the series thus far. Dan Slott has outdone himself. There’s an extravagant balance of sincerity and humor in FANTASTIC FOUR #4. It’s especially impressive when you consider how much story we’re getting, too.

FANTASTIC FOUR #4 has many small, heartfelt moments. Black Panther says a warm goodbye to Onome, a member of the Future Foundation from Wakanda. Dragon Man swears to Reed that he’ll keep the children safe. Speaking of which, all the kids share a massive group hug before departing, as well.

Oh, and that bit about Ice Man being a member comes back up, which Johnny especially denies. Apparently, we’re going to get that story later down the line (thank God).

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FANTASTIC FOUR #4 page 10. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

FANTASTIC FOUR #4 is hilariously self-aware, too. Spider-Man jokes about how Wolverine and Ghost Rider are present. Logan’s exact whereabouts are up in the air, currently (thanks Jason Aaron), and Robbie Reyes is Ghost Rider, but here, we’ve got the Johnny Blaze version. Bottom line, I’m glad Slott addressed this, because I was confused. We don’t really get answers, but I love a good, self-aware story.

Oh, also, the bit about the Baxter Building being sold is perfect. Spidey even blames himself for it! But I appreciate the team being okay with giving it up. Reed’s reasoning is spot on: the team isn’t a building. They’re not even friends. They’re a family. That’s what matters.

If Slott keeps delivering issues like FANTASTIC FOUR #4, then we’ve got a lot of exciting stuff to look forward to.

Double the Artists, Double the Fun

FANTASTIC FOUR #4 is essentially split in half. I say this because you can tell when the artistic styles switch up about halfway through. Though Stefano Caselli and Nico Leon’s work share some similarities, it’s still easy to tell when one or the other is doing the drawing.

Like I mentioned before, Stefano Caselli has been delivering near-perfect 10s lately with his work on WEST COAST AVENGERS. His work here in FANTASTIC FOUR #4 matches all of that. I wouldn’t mind seeing him hop on as a series regular, honestly.

Caselli’s always had a great talent for drawing lots of characters and action in a coherent manner. He handles the first half of the issue, which features more of the action, and all the stuff with all the heroes saying goodbye. So, he had a lot to draw. It was insanely satisfying seeing Spider-Man drawn in his style again.

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FANTASTIC FOUR #4 page 25. Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

In the moments when Ben and Franklin peel off from the group to see Alicia, that’s when Leon comes in. The transition is seamless, since he and Caselli have very similar line work, and the colors from Erick Arciniega don’t skip a beat.

Leon’s work is good, especially in the calmer moments of the issue. Frankly, though, I would’ve much preferred Caselli’s art the whole way through. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Leon’s style, it’s just a personal preference for me.

Maybe Caselli couldn’t draw the whole issue because of a scheduling conflict or something, so they got the next best guy to fill in. I don’t know.

My nitpicking aside, the bottom line is that FANTASTIC FOUR #4 looks great. Seriously, don’t let my griping fool you. Caselli and Leon make for a strong artistic team.

Time for a Wedding!

At this point, it’s no surprise that the next big Marvel wedding is on the way! Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters are getting married! And, by all accounts from Marvel, this wedding is going to happen. For real. No strings attached.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

As for FANTASTIC FOUR #4, the issue is a complete success! Dan Slott’s story is outstanding. It manages to juggle tons of heart, wit, and well-paced storytelling all at once. I’m still in awe at how well this issue holds itself together. Leave it to Slott to keep surprising me.

And the artistic team of Stefano Caselli and Nico Leon pull through with some fantastic pages. Their styles blend perfectly together, so it hardly feels like you’re seeing a change in style at the halfway mark in the issue.

Here’s hoping that wedding actually pulls through.

FANTASTIC FOUR #4 by Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli, and Nico Leon
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
FANTASTIC FOUR #4 has tons of heart, wit, and creativity. The Fantastix are a fun -- if ineffectual -- foil to the Fantastic Four. On top of that, we gets tons of sincere family moments from the team.
95 %
A Fantastic Return

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