REVIEW: Fantastic Four #645

STORY BY: James Robinson, Karl Kesel, Louise Simonson, Tom DeFalco, Jeff Parker
ART BY: Leonard Kirk, Karl Kesel, Scott Hanna, Joe Bennett, Marcio Loerzer, David Marquez, Tom Grummett, Tom Palmer, Pascal Campion
COLORS BY: Jesus Aburtov, Israel Silva, Nolan Woodard, Justin Ponsor, Frank D’Armata
LETTERS BY: Clayton Cowles
COVER BY: Leonard Kirk, Jesus Aburtov, Michael Komarck, Michael Golden, Joe Sinnott, Chris Sotomayor, Pasqual Ferry
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

When I was a kid, I got into a fight with my brother. Normally we were pretty tight, but this time war had erupted. You see my Dad had bought us a comic pocketbook each. This being the U.K. in the late 70’s, we had black and white reprints of Marvel books. So the reason for the fight? My brother got Spider-Man and I got a lame book about some daft team. I was not happy. Then I read it. Then I read it again.Then I got the next one and the one after that. I fell in love with the Jack Kirby Sue Storm, I loved the cranky Ben Grimm, Reed was a bit of a stiff ironically and Johnny? Well we had the same name! Soon I was seeing my namesake fall for Crystal, heartbroken when she was behind the barrier, the introduction of the Black Panther and of course, Galactus and the Silver Surfer. My brother could keep Spider-Man. I never even looked back, not even Gwen Stacy’s death could deter me from the more fantastic book.

Many years have passed since then and those years haven’t always been kind to the family foursome. Sure there have been highlights, but for the whole can anyone really say they have loved this book in the same way you used to, with Lee and Kirby or John Byrne?

This book is the final issue, possibly of the FF as we know them.  From this point on any FF book will likely be linked to the movie, adding to my ire over the way Hollywood dismisses the legitimacy of the comic book medium.  James Robinson, no stranger to legacy books, (check out his JSA books as well as his Starman)  is also no stranger to pitching the final inning, closing out the pre-flashpoint Justice League previously. I like Robinson’s work. Earth 2 was a much better book with him on board. I do think his image was tarnished with Cry for Justice and the aforementioned Justice League run. Unfortunately, his run on FF will probably only add fuel to the fire. This issue is loud. Just plain noise upon guest star upon noise upon guest star. Sure I haven’t read the preceding books, but there is nothing in this issue to make we want to even go looking at them. I just don’t care.

The art is by Leonard Kirk and is the best part of the book. Kirk is a pro and he excels at crowded panels which is just as well really. Also, the colours by Jesus Aburtov and Israel Silva pop off the page. On a personal note, I am glad to see Karl Kesel’s work back in a book.

There are couple of back up stories, supposedly adding to the farewell feelings but again, despite some stellar art, I find myself longing for the days when this foursome were truly Fantastic, rather than the Average Four.

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