The Fantastic Four tackle a very different challenge in their latest adventure. The childcare arrangement of The Wizard’s clone-child, Bentley-23. Luckily they have the She-Hulk fighting their corner, but will this be a case she cannot win? It certainly looks like it from where I’m standing in this witty and intelligent courtroom comedy-drama.
The rehabilitation of She-Hulk as a less barbaric looking beast continues in this week’s Fantastic Four #38 as Jennifer Walters is called up to represents Dragonman in a legal action that would see The Wizard take charge of his cloned offspring, Bentley-23. Not only does this version help with Disney’s plans to bring the sensational She-Hulk to the small screen in a more palatable, family-friendly form, it also allows writer Dan Slott a chance to return to writing Jen’s courtroom capers one more time. And he seems to have a field day with this chance too. Probably something he’s been dying to tackle for some time now, but has been unable to achieve due to Jen’s adventures over in the Avengers comic book. And let’s all face it, this is the She-Hulk we all want anyway!
In what seems to be a thoughtless melee into the Baxter Building by The Wizard is revealed to be nothing of the sort. And nor is the carefully considered legal challenges the Wizard puts forward in the dominating court scenes of this issue. But, these court scenes are anything but ordinary. Not when you have such a volatile mix of characters involved.
Having been spoilt in recent issues by R.B. Silva’s top-tier artwork, it’s good to see that the newest artist to be taking up art duties, Francesco Manna, is not too dissimilar to Silva. And another artist who adds to the growing stable of artists Marvel can rely on to deliver their current Marvel style. This may be a courtroom based storyline, but Manna certainly breathes a great deal of life into it. The oft-times introduction of vibrant colours into proceedings courtesy of colourists Jesus Aburtov also helps immensely too.
While there are obvious easy shots to be taken at the childcare arrangements of any crime-fighting super being, living or artificial, Slott also includes some well thought out arguments too. The Wizard comes off as a highly intelligent foe and not some doofus as he can often be portrayed as in the comics. Time and time again he sees off Dragonman’s defence and that of the Fantastic Four when both Reed and Sue and then Ben and Alicia try and come forward to take up Bentley’s childcare.
It’s a fun, intelligent issue with a lot of legal twist and turns that have me pining for Slott’s much loved She-Hulk series of yesteryear and one that isn’t done in one, either. So, more courtroom shenanigans to be had yet, which is only a good thing for this reader. And a great change of pace from recent high-octane adventures too. Family is always at the heart of the Fantastic Four, but the questions being posed about their suitability as parents is put across in a fascinating and thought-provoking real-world way.
Fantastic Four #38 is out now from Marvel Comics