Review: ‘X-Men/Fantastic Four’ #4 Faces Certain (Doctor) Doom

by Tony Thornley

Two of Marvel’s juggernauts (lower-case) have clashed in a fascinating theological showdown. In X-Men/Fantastic Four #4 we find out what it all means in the end.

This epic conclusion sets up plots down the road for both teams for years to come. However, does it really do much else? That’s a question answered by Chip Zdarsky, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, Ranson Getty, Laura Martin, and Joe Caramagna.

The combined teams face Doom over his horrific abuse and enslavement of the Latverian mutant population. It’s a confrontation that could create a powerful foe for the infant nation of Krakoa. And what does it mean for Franklin Richards?

This issue is almost like two different stories- the superhero punch-em-up and the philosophical showdown between two teams. The former is a pretty standard, if slightly better than average superheroic battle. A highlight is in the design of the threat- The Doom Sentinels are a great idea from Zdarsky and Dodson makes them even more terrifying that the standard Doombot, but there’s nothing really novel to the idea beyond that. They’re just big Doombots with Sentinel touches- no magic or technobabble to make them anything more.

On the flip side, the denouement with the resolution to the first issue’s ideological conflict lands MUCH better. Zdarsky should have stuck to this more in the series, as it makes the conflict with Doom feel much more hollow. Reed and Charles verbally sparring is an engrossing read that we didn’t get enough of, and seeing Xavier and Magneto act as heads of state in that confrontation with Mister Fantastic was worth the price of the issue. It puts the story in a place that has some interesting threads but ultimately does nothing for either franchise outside of giving Franklin Richards an apartment on Krakoa.

The art is a mixed bag, and I think it depends on which inker is working over Dodson’s pencils. I can’t tell which is which, but one of the inkers puts too heavy of a line over the pencils, which muddies up the figures, and makes the art feel heavy and wooden. The other inker with a lighter line feels like a much better fit, which makes the characters feel like themselves, and gives the story enough gravitas for the final moments to really sink in. Martin’s colors throughout though are really well done, adding depth to the pages and characters.

In the end, this isn’t a totally successful series. It has very little aftereffect on Franklin or these two teams. The emotional core doesn’t quite come across for its main character either. If this story had been a couple more issues, we probably would have seen things move forward on much more solid ground.

X-Men/ Fantastic Four #4 is available now from Marvel Comics.

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