Comic Book Review: Ultimate Fantastic Four #36

The Revolution has fallen in love with Pasqual Ferry’s artwork on Ultimate Fantastic Four. I was not familiar with his work until he took over the art duties on this title. Needless to say, I have been blown away with Ferry’s style. Unfortunately, I haven’t been as impressed with Mike Carey’s writing on Ultimate Fantastic Four. It isn’t terrible; however it certainly isn’t anything great. Carey’s writing has been decidedly average. Will Ultimate Fantastic Four #36 get me to change my opinion on Carey’s story? Let’s check it out.

Creative Team
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Pasqual Ferry

Art Rating: 10 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: This issue begins with the Fantastic Four on the planet Pyx taking advantage of the fact that Thanos’ soldiers think that they died in the explosion from last issue. Dreamcatcher tells the Fantastic Four that they must find a medical facility quickly so that Sue and Reed can attempt to save Tesseract.

We cut to Thanos’ soldiers on Pyx searching the wreckage of the ship that the Fantastic Four were in. Captain Skaven contacts his general and tells him that they found no sign of survivors. The general tells Captain Skaven that Thanos whishes to speak to the Captain personally. That Thanos has chose one of the Captain’s sergeants to be his vessel. Suddenly, one of the sergeants is consumed by flames as we see Thanos’ ghostly image appear around the sergeant. Thanos tells the Captain that there are survivors from the crash. That Thanos is particularly interested in one of the survivors. Thanos continues that his son Ronan is on his way to help Captain Skaven with the search mission.

We shift to the Fantastic Four finding a “medical facility” that turns out to be more of a torture room than a hospital. Dreamcatcher then enlists the Thing’s help to go scavenging for materials for shift-tech so that they can escape from this planet.

We cut to the World-Tree on Planet Halcyon. There we see Darien communicating with the World-Tree’s spirit. We learn that the All favors Darien’s people since they act as a counterweight to Thanos who is the chosen of Death. The World-Tree’s spirit says that Thanos has found an ally of great power and the balance shifts away from Darien’s people. That Thanos seeks this ally on the planet Pyx and that Darien must make sure that Thanos does not find this person. This individual is Reed Richards. The World-Tree tells Darien to send Halcyon’s Seed Children to stop Thanos from finding Reed Richards. If Thanos speaks to Reed Richards then Halcyon is lost and Death shall have dominion over all.

We shift to the Thing and Dreamcatcher scavenging for tech. Dreamcatcher has used her powers to disguise the Thing so he looks like one of Thanos’ officers.

We cut back to Reed and Sue doing their best to cure the cell clusters in Tesseract’s brain. It looks like someone tried to brainwash Tesseract.

We hop back to Dreamcatcher sifting through discarded tech. Meanwhile, the Thing watches as Thanos’ soldiers prepare to execute some innocent local peasants in the local square. The Thing can’t control himself and he attacks the soldiers.

We zip back to Reed and Sue finishing up their medical work on Tesseract. They successfully stabilized Tesseract’s condition. Suddenly, the Thing busts through the wall. Dreamcatcher tells Reed and Sue that the Thing interrupted a public execution and that there cover is blown. That they must flee the area immediately. The Thing apologizes to Reed for blowing their cover. Reed tells the Thing that he did the right thing by stopping the public execution.

The Thing then says he feels weird all of a sudden. We then see the Thing’s body enveloped in energy and see that Thanos has used the Thing’s body as a vessel to speak with Reed. Thanos tells Reed that they have much to discuss before the Thing’s body’s energies are exhausted. End of issue.

The Good: Ultimate Fantastic Four #36 was a slightly better than average read. Carey does just enough so that I don’t have much to complain about, but he doesn’t do enough to get me to have much to praise. Carey does a nice job keeping the story is moving along smoothly and at a proper pace. Carey employs nice scene transitions that give this issue a nice flow to it.

I really like how Carey is handling the Ultimate version of Thanos. He is similar enough to the 616 Thanos so that the character retains its original essence. However, Carey makes more than enough changes to the Ultimate Thanos in order to make him a unique and fresh take on the original character. I am excited to see more of Ultimate Thanos.

I also like that Carey made the Ultimate version of Ronan, Thanos’ son. That was a brilliant twist on Ronan’s character. I hope that we will finally get to see Ronan in action in the next issue.

I also dig that Carey is making Reed Thanos’ ally. This is an intriguing plot twist. The reader figured that common sense dictates that Reed would be an ally for the good guys from Halcyon. I’m curious to see just what the connection between Reed and Thanos is and how Reed is going to turn out to be an ally of Thanos. This plotline has plenty of potential.

Carey is doing a solid job laying a sound foundation for what should be a very wild ride crammed full of action for the rest of this story arc. With the introduction of Darien and the World-Tree, we now have all the various players in place and are ready for Carey to kick this story arc into overdrive. I like that Carey has taken the time to properly set up this story arc rather than rushing into it.

Carey delivered a nice ending in this issue that goes a nice job hooking the reader and getting them to come back for the next issue. I’m curious to see just how the Thing manages to survive Thanos taking control of his body in order to talk to Reed. I’m also interested to see how Sue reacts to Reed wanting to stay and get involved in this entire mess between Thanos and the Halcyon. It is pretty obvious that Sue has no interest in staying in this universe for one second more than they have to. This seemingly unavoidable conflict between Sue and Reed should be entertaining.

As always, Pasqual Ferry cranks out some gorgeous artwork. I could stare at his art for hours. It is so wonderfully rich and detailed. Pure candy for the eyes.

The Bad: Carey’s dialogue is average at best. At times, Carey gives some nice humor, but other times the dialogue is a bit cheesy. Carey’s dialogue continues to give me the impression that he would have made for a great staff writer for the Xena or Hercules TV shows.

I’m also not all that impressed with the character development of Fantastic Four. Carey writes each member of the Fantastic Four rather flatly. None of the Fantastic Four have much of a nuanced or textured personality. It seems that Carey is relying on the traditional stereotypical attributes of each character in order to give them personalities rather than try and develop his own unique take on each character.

For some reason, the scene with Ben ruining their cover by stopping the public execution and then Reed congratulation Ben for doing the right thing regardless that their cover has been blown, just didn’t work for me. Something about it just seemed off. I think it may have been that this seemed like such a forced and stereotypical scene designed to remind the reader that the Thing is a hero and he doesn’t sit by while the helpless are being oppressed no matter if it blows their cover. It just had a very “paint by numbers” feel to it. A very standard “Hey this is what heroes do” type of feel to it. How many times in TV shows, movies are comics have we seen the hero “do the right thing” even if it is detrimental to the hero? This is the kind of very standard issue writing that Carey delivers that makes him seem like such an average writer.

The overall storyline still hasn’t been able to separate itself from falling into the classification of your common space adventure story arc that you find in your standard comic book. Carey has yet to really show to me that he can weave a unique and compelling story arc.

Overall: Ultimate Fantastic Four #36 was a solid issue. Carey does enough to keep you from complaining about the writing; however he still hasn’t made me want to sing his praises. Ferry’s art is incredible and seriously boosts Carey’s average writing and makes Ultimate Fantastic Four a much more enjoyable read. I think that your average reader will probably enjoy Ultimate Fantastic Four. If you like universe spanning space adventures then I would definitely recommend that you give Ultimate Fantastic Four a try.