A promising start, as Sue Richards finally corners her brother and his “soul mate” from the stars, Sky, over their relationship. But then, the King in Black intrudes and what started off as a delightful and dramatic character-led story quickly descends into an editorially mandated cross-over. Yawn!
Fantastic Four #29 finally gets round to the elephant in the room that is Johnny Storm and Sky’s relationship. A relationship that has seemingly gone without questioning since their return to Earth from Sky’s home planet. But no longer.
Sue Storm may be a protective older sister, but in this instance, I can’t help but side with her thinking. And, in case we’ve forgotten, in giving up all she knows for a life on Earth, Sky has also given up on her true love in the process. All because of her cultural beliefs.
But then, I don’t blame her. She’s a victim of her own society’s martial traditions that smacks a little of the tradition of arranged marriages which is observed by many Muslims today. But, please, do not take this as a criticism of this longstanding tradition. All I am saying is that the ideas being explored by writer Dan Slott is reflective in this practice. And I won’t be the only one who will jump to this conclusion either. It’s simply a reference point that I can relate this story to and helps inform my own reaction to the varied views presented through the characters in this book. I am sure is not coincidental on Slott’s part either. If anyone is showing intolernace of this arrangement between Johnny and Sky, it’s Sue. Johnny seems to be more than happy with this arranged relationship. But then, that’s Johnny for you. He often treads where angels fear to go. Even if his soul-mate looks like one.
By presenting a three sided debate between Johnny, Sue and Sky, Slott isn’t taking any sides either, but rather exploring this relationship in the complete context of the comic book world of superheroes and allowing the characters to drive the story. A world that is prone to the odd distraction. In this instance, that odd distraction being the inevitable tie-in to the high concept King in Black storyline holding Marvel titles hostage presently. Even the way this crossover intrudes into events is rather sudden and clunky. Reed is simply informed that Knull’s forces are invading and – as if by magic – they appear right on cue.
And so, after a strong opener Slott and artistic partner Zé Carlos must make way to Donny Cates’s grand design and the rest of the issue falls into the familiar and dull rhythm of tie-ins everywhere. Heroes team up and try to defeat the most recent big bad from the stars coming to destroy the world. I’m sure Slott can’t be too thrilled, but with a clever little cliff-hanger, I imagine he’ll weave the magic I witnessed when he was forced to crossover with last year’s let down of an event, Empyre. But at least on that one he was co-writing the bloody thing. Here, he’s just like every other writer at Marvel. Bowing to the whims of Cates and editorial. You get the feeling he juts wants rid of this one so he can refocus on the unfolding stories he would rather explore.
A great slice-of-life mostly, but after Knull’s forced intrusion into the domestic dramas of Marvel’s first family, a lack lustred, by-the-numbers ending. But, with a glimmer of hope offered by the last page drama.
Fantastic Four #29 is out now from Marvel