Comic Book Review: Fantastic Four #539: Civil War

The Revolution hasn’t been impressed with the Fantastic Four in a long time. Plus, these Civil War tie-in issues have been average at best. So, I don’t really expect that Fantastic Four #539 is going to be a particularly great read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Mike McKone
Inker: Andy Lanning, Kris Justice & Cam Smith

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: This issue deals with the events of Amazing Spider-Man #534. We see Captain America plotting their mission to free the detainees being transported by the government. Three punks from the Yancy Street Gang show up and give Captain America detailed information on the route the government will be taking the detainees. Captain America thanks them for their help.

We then cut to the Thinker and the Puppet_Master planning their attack on the government’s transport of the detainees. They are thrilled to use the events of Civil War to unleash their attack on the super hero community.

We then shift to Iron Man and his team guarding the transport carrying the detainees through New York City. The Thinker and the Puppet Master implement their plan. The Puppet Master takes over the minds of the military pilots flying the helicopters that were guarding the transport. The Puppet Master commands the pilots to fire their missiles at the convoy and Iron Man’s team. The Thing show up and sees Iron Man’s team fighting Captain America’s team as well as trying to stop the missiles from the military helicopters.

The Puppet Master then takes control of Mouse, one of the punks from the Yancy Street Gang, and Mouse grabs a bomb and runs toward the vehicle holding the detainees. The bomb explodes, but the Thing manages to move the vehicle holding the detainees so they didn’t get killed. The Puppet Master then speaks through Mouse and tells the Thing that all he has done is postpone the inevitable. The Thing recognizes that the Puppet Master is behind all of this.

The Thing then sees that one of the punks from the Yancy Street Gang got killed from the bomb’s explosion. It is the one that gave the plans to Captain America in the beginning of the issue. We see Iron Man’s team and Captain America’s team squaring off again to continue their fighting. The Thing then yells for both sides to back off. The Thing walks over carrying the dead body of the kid from the Yancy Street Gang. The Thing rants that their stupid war killed this kid. The Thing tells them to look around them at all of the destruction. That all they are doing is destroying everything around them. Captain America says that all this is proof that they need the Thing on their side. Iron Man counters that the law needs the Thing on their side. The Thing responds “To Hell with both of you.” (Finally! Somebody who I completely agree with! That’s my boy!) The Thing says the Registration Act is wrong and he won’t support a law he doesn’t believe in. But, that he is still a patriot and won’t fight against his own government. So, he only has one choice. The Thing says he is leaving America and that he may never come back. (Nice. Buenos Aires is a nice place. Toyko is very cool. And of course, Rome and Florence are also fantastic. Plenty of cool places to live outside of America. Enjoy Ben!)

The Good: All right! Outside of the X-Factor Civil War tie-in issues, Fantastic Four #539 was the best Civil War tie-in issue. Straczynski did a nice job with this story. It had a nice pace and meshed perfectly with Straczynski’s story over in Amazing Spider-Man #534. The final scene was certainly the best scene in this issue. The Thing’s tirade was perfectly written. I could feel the emotion and understood the Thing’s frustration and anger. The dialogue is solid and the pacing is well done.

The Thing reacted pretty much the same way I probably would. I finally can identify someone in this one-sided storyline. I don’t think anyone would side with Iron Man or his team since Bendis, Straczynski and Jenkins have made sure that they come across as total scumbags. I have a hard time identifying with Captain America’ team since the writers so badly want me to root for them.

But, the Thing? Perfect. Ben Grimm spoke the truth. Super Heroes are nothing more than self-made royalty. They are like Hollywood stars with super powers. They egotistical and think they are superior to regular people. They brazenly carry out their little war with each other causing massive amounts of damage to property that us regular humans will have to pay as well as loss of life of regular humans caught in their crossfire.

This Civil War reminds me more of the Greek Gods of Mount Olympus battling each other for power and us mortal humans getting caught up in their crossfire rather than a comment on the Patriot Act. I find that all the super heroes on both sides come off as holier than thou and that both sides are menaces to normal humans and society in general.

So, Ben Grimm will be leaving America. Maybe he could go to Canada and help in creating the new Alpha Flight team? It looks like the Fantastic Four is imploding. Johnny is still badly injured and in the hospital. Reed and Sue have split apart. Reed is inattentive to Sue and is obsessed with Tony Stark’s plan for metahumans. Sue feels abandoned by Reed and totally disagrees with the Registration Act and Reed’s involvement with Tony Stark’s team. It looks like the Fantastic Four will be torn apart and rebuilt with new members.

The scene with the Thinker and the Puppet Master had some rather humurous dialogue. Especially the part about how the Thinker dropped the “Mad” from his name since his sessions with his therapist helped him to deal with his anger issues.

McKone’s artwork is average. It doesn’t really move me in one direction or the other. It doesn’t help or hurt the storyline.

The Bad: The plotline involving the Thinker and the Puppet Master was average. I’m not too sure what kind of legs this plotline has or how interesting it is going to get.

Overall: Fantastic Four #539 is the best issue that Straczynski has turned out for this title in a while. Honestly, I’m not too sure how much longer I’m going to keep this title on my permanent pull list. I think it is time that Fantastic Four gets demoted to my probation list for the next six issues. In that time it can either earn its spot back on my permanent pull list or it gets dropped. Right now, I wouldn’t recommend Fantastic Four to anyone. There are far better reads on the market that are more worth your money.