Comic Book Review: Fantastic Four #557

Millar and Hitch are doing a fine job on the Fantastic Four. Last issue gave us CAP on a massive rampage tearing his way through an impressive group of heroes. It appears that we are going to get to see Reed riding to the rescue as he comes up with some plan to take down the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut CAP. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Fantastic Four #557.

Creative Team
Writer: Mark Millar
Pencils: Bryan Hitch
Inks: Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary

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

Synopsis: We begin with Sue revealing to the assembled heroes in Alaska that Alyssa programmed a fail-safe in CAP so that she and her husband would not be harmed by it. However, the rest of the world is out of luck. Sue tells Alyssa to teleport them out of here. That they are wasting valuable time.

We shift to Portal Prime where they are tracking CAP. They realize that CAP is getting faster. That he is taking down nuclear facilities all across the globe. We then cut to Central Park where Reed is assembling his huge bad-assed Shogun Warrior. (Actually, it is his Anti-Galactus Suit and I don’t think that its fist can be launched.)

Dr. Castle informs Reed that Alyssa made CAP an unbeatable opponent. Reed says that he is prepared to take the risk. Reed’s assistants run through the last minute prep of the Anti-Galactus suit. One of the techs ask Reed what was the idea behind the helmets Galactus-style design. Reed responds because it looks cool.

Reed then hops inside of the Shogun Warrior and is ready to rumble. Dr. Castle then tells Reed that this is suicide. That CAP cannot be beaten. Reed responds that such talk is “Not in my vocabulary, Doctor Castle.” We then see CAP teleport in front of Reed. Right after that, our assembled heroes from the Avengers, Secret Avengers and X-Men appear on the scene as well.

Reed orders for the heroes to stand down and leave CAP to him. Reed then tells CAP that he knows there is a command in CAP that won’t let him lay a finger on Reed. That Alyssa put Reed on the special exemption list with herself and her husband. CAP finishes scanning Reed and states that his command is to not hurt Doctor Reed Richards.

Reed smiles and comments that fortunately he is under no such restraints. Reed then smashes CAP to pieces. All the assembled heroes are duly impressed with Reed’s Shogun Warrior. Reed powers down the Anti-Galactus suit and exits the robot. Everyone cheers Reed. Sue asks Reed how he knew there was even a list of people that CAP would not be allowed to hurt. Reed looks at an embarrassed Alyssa and replies that it was just an educated guess.

We slide over to the White House where the President is informed that the Russians and the Chinese are quite willing to help them keep a lid on the entire situation involving CAP. That Nu-World is their last hope and they can’t let a little thing like the CAP incident hold them back.

We cut back to Reed and Alyssa overseeing the clean-up of CAP. Alyssa says that the job for Reed to help them with Nu-World is still open to him. Reed declines stating that he doesn’t approve of how the entire incident has been covered up. And that he would rather stick around and do what he can to save his own planet first.

Alyssa then tells Reed that they married the wrong people. That her husband Ted has the intellect, but none of the passion. And that Sue is sweet and pretty but can hardly be described as an engaging conversation. Same with Ben and Johnny. Alyssa says that she is the only one Reed can talk to without the “child-lock” on. Alyssa says that Reed got married on the rebound.

Alyssa asks Reed why he would waste his one life with someone whose eyes glaze over when he talks about his passions. Reed answers because he loves her and is that something that Alyssa cannot work out on a calculator. Reed then says he is sorry and gives Alyssa a kiss on the cheek. Alyssa says that wasn’t much of a kiss. Reed answers that it was goodbye.

We cut to Reed and Sue at a nice restaurant for their anniversary. Sue asks Reed if he let Alyssa down gently. Sue says that she knew that Alyssa was still in love with Reed and that Sue knew what Alyssa was up to. Reed answers that Sue has nothing to worry about Alyssa.

Reed then pulls out a ring and places it on Sue’s finger. Reed says that he fashioned it himself. That it is a micro-galaxy. Seventy-four inhabited worlds and over forty trillion couples in total. All loving each other like Reed loves Sue.

Sue then gives Reed his present: the new Bob Dylan CD. We then learn that Reed and Sue have travelled thirteen years into the past to eat at this specific restaurant because it has a view of the two of them when they first met. Reed tells Sue to look out the window.

We see a young Sue and Reed literally bumping into each other for the first time. We then cut back into the restaurant with Reed telling Sue that he loves her more than anything in the world.

We shift to Johnny Storm’s pad. Johnny walks into his bedroom as sees a naked Psionics in his bed covered with money and drinking a bottle of champagne. (Sweet!) Psionics tells Johnny that she has been a naughty girl and robbed another bank. Psionics ask if that means Johnny will have to handcuff her. Psionics says that she hopes so. (Nice! It gets even better. Johnny is one lucky dog.) Johnny wonders out loud how can something so wrong feel so right. (Isn’t that always the case?)

We slip back to the Baxter Building where the Thing is informing a nice elderly woman who was present for the nanny position that Sue forgot about their meeting. Suddenly, we hear someone banging on the door. The door busts open and in walks a battle damaged Dr. Doom. Doom says “Find Reed Richards! NOW!” End of issue.

The Good: Fantastic Four #557 was a great read. Miller delivers a well paced issue. We don’t get much action but what we do get was well timed. Miller manages to let Reed’s character carry this issue. The fun in this issue is watching how Reed rides to the rescue in such a calm and confident manner.

Fantastic Four #557 was a nicely plotted read. This issue ties up Millar’s initial story arc in a pleasant fashion. This four issue story arc was a fairly tight story that, while not a fast story, never felt slow and unfocused.

Millar serves up plenty of well crafted dialogue. The two characters who really shined in this issue were Reed and Sue. Millar demonstrates a good feel for this couple and treats the reader to well developed versions of both characters.

Millar delivers a Sue that is strong and smart woman who is also a wonderful wife. Sue’s supreme confidence and unwavering faith in her husband, Reed, was touching and quite refreshing in a world of comic books where everyone is cynical and jaded and a strong marriage is sneered at as a pathetically outdated custom from the past.

Miller delivers a kick-ass Reed Richards while still keeping Reed completely in character. Reed doesn’t need to be like Wolverine or the Punisher in order to be kick-ass. There are all different types of cool and Millar most definitely makes Reed pretty cool in this issue. Of course, it always helps to look bad-assed when you are piloting a sweet looking Shogun Warrior. The Anti-Galactus suit was a rather wicked weapon that Reed pulled out of his toy box.

I liked how completely in control Reed is during this issue. Reed isn’t an egotistical jerk, but don’t mistake that for Reed not having an ego at all. Reed most definitely does and his supreme confidence in his abilities allowed him to be unnaturally calm in the face of a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut in CAP. Reed’s response that impossible is not in his vocabulary sums up Reed perfectly.

Millar does a great job getting Reed over with a newer reader who might now be as familiar with Reed’s character. At first blush, it seems easy for a reader to dismiss Reed as a nerd with a lame power. The fact is that Reed’s true weapon is his mind. And when written properly, Reed can be quite an engaging and intriguing character.

I will admit that the defeat of CAP was a bit anti-climactic, but it served the purpose of forwarding the dramatic plotline involving Alyssa, Reed and Sue. And in the end the love triangle between those three characters was always the main plotline in this story arc. And honestly, a big slug-em out scene is also pretty predictable and unoriginal. All in all, I was fine with how Millar had Reed dispatch of CAP.

I loved how Reed handled the love triangle between Alyssa, Reed and Sue. I am also thrilled that whatever marital problems that existed between Reed and Sue have finally been put to rest. I liked how Reed handled Alyssa at the end of this issue. Reed got his point across to Alyssa in no uncertain terms, but managed to do it in a classy way.

I liked the touching scene with Reed and Sue travelling to the past to watch the two of them meet for the first time. It was great to see Reed and Sue back together and better than ever. Millar does a nice job creating some quality chemistry between this married couple. I also thought Reed’s gift was pretty damn cool. Now, since the ring contains a micro-galaxy, could Millar be planting the seeds for a Fantastic Four/Micronauts cross-over? I guess the Micronauts (or Microns or whatever they are calling them nowadays) could be adventuring around in the micro-galaxy in Sue’s ring. Eh, odds are pretty safe that Millar is not planning a return of the Micronauts.

I am glad that Nu-World is going to stick around for the foreseeable future. Nu-World is a cool concept that can easily provide for plenty of future stories. I hope that Millar works Nu-World back into the story at some time in the future.

I loved the scene with Johnny and Psionics. These two characters are a perfect couple. And they are also a train wreck waiting to happen. I have to admit that I totally can’t blame Johnny for doing this (and Psionics). I mean, who hasn’t wanted to shag a super-villainess as some point or another? I certainly cannot wait to see how this entire situation explodes in Johnny’s face.

Millar cranks out a fantastic hook ending. Just awesome. I mean, were are talking Dr. Doom, people. What more can you ask for? This ending is also a great way to seamlessly transition from one story arc to the next without having a traditional filler or bridge issue.

Bryan Hitch dishes out plenty of good looking artwork. Hitch’s design of the Anti-Galactus suit was top-notch.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Fantastic Four #557 provided the reader with a satisfying ending to Millar’s debut story arc. Fantastic Four is a well balanced title that provides the reader with equal parts drama, action and character development. Even if you are like me and have never been much of a fan of the Fantastic Four before, I think that what Millar is pulling off on this title might appeal to you. Millar is doing a nice job trying to make the stories new reader friendly. I would certainly recommend giving the Fantastic Four a try.

4 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: Fantastic Four #557

  1. I think it was the most recent marvel solicits that listed the FF issue being about Johnny being carted off by Psionics Villian family for a shotgun wedding.

    Is it ‘Until the end of time famous” storytelling a la the Claremont Golden years, or Frank Miller on Daredevil? Nah. Not even close. In 10 years, it’ll be a footnote, not a defining moment or shining example or any of that jazz.

    Is it fun, makes me want to buy the issue and come back for me? Oh yeah! I haven’t cared about the First Family in 20 years or so and now suddenly I’m hanging on for more.

    Here’s hoping Hitch and Miller just keep on having fun and keep extending.

  2. Probably Doom’s appearence has to do with the Secret Invasion since he was in the Raft when the Skrulls attacked( Secret Invasion).I am interested to see what Doom’s actions are in the Invasion.

  3. This is before SI (hence, the reference to reading MA #11 in the introduction); it can’t being during SI, since the Four are scrambled all to hell during that.

    I thought this was pretty good; the arc as a whole has a very perfunctory short-term villain (CAP is really just there because they need someone to fight), but the long-term plots they set up, and the characterization of the team, work great. The epilogues were very strong; Reed & Sue’s anniversary had a great mix of sci-fi and romance; the Johnny story is just fun to follow.

    For all the rather ordinary confrontation, it was ordered pretty logically, and I did enjoy Reed’s big robot, the lovechild of Optimus Prime (Hitch was clearly using one of Prime’s action figures as a photo-reference for the basic shape) and Galactus (in Chekov’s literary theory, now that Millar has introduced an “Anti-Galactus Suit” in his first arc, it follows he has to actually fight Galactus with it at some point).

    It’s interesting to see Hitch draw all the 616 costumes in this arc; mostly he does well, though his Iron Man armour still seems too Ultimate, though it conforms to the broad outlines.

  4. I really like millars run on ff but i have to say, i am really looking forward to the old man logan arc on wolverine. I really like the concept and steve mcniven is arguably the best artist in the business. What is not to love?

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