House of X and Powers of X set up how the X-Men have become a global powerhouse not only based on their power level but also on a governmental level. In establishing this Jonathan Hickman teased tension between the X-Men and other superheroes in the Marvel Universe. In particular, we had an extremely tense meeting between the Cyclops and Fantastic Four. That meeting set-up how the X-Men and Fantastic Four will eventually clash over if Franklin Richards should stay with his parents and F4 family or go live on Krakoa with his fellow mutants. The time for that issue to be tackled is now with Chip Zdarsky, Terry and Rachel Dodson tackling this big clash. Let’s find out how things kick off with X-Men/Fantastic Four #1.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Terry Dodson
Colorist: Rachel Dodson
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Franklin Richards thinks back to his entire life with his parents and Fantastic Four family. While stopping an invading spaceship Franklin begins to think how he doesn’t see a future for himself.
At Hellfire bay in the Pacific Ocean, Kate Pryde and Storm arrive to go through the portals that transport them to Krakoa. Quentin is on the island as well and quickly gets on both their nerves.
Once they arrive on Krakoa Storm decides to go tend to her garden while Kate goes to meet with Charles Xavier as she suspects something to be wrong since the Cuckoos Sisters are the one that welcomed them back.
Kate finds Xavier and Magneto, who inform them about how Franklin Richards stopped an alien invasion. Xavier and Magneto mention to Kate that recently returned from a multiverse adventure that ended up aging him to be a young man.
Kate quickly understands that Xavier and Magneto now want to recruit Franklin to join them on Krakoa. Xavier mentions that for some reason Franklin’s powers are depleting and he wants to help find out why that is happening. He goes on to say since Kate has a connection with Franklin from their younger days (Fantastic Four vs. X-Men #1 – #4). Kate remembers well and agrees to go recruit Franklin to join them.
Kate goes to find Wolverine so she can give him the beer that he requested. She then mentions how she will be going to recruit Franklin. Wolverine reminds Kate that Franklin isn’t a kid anymore, especially since being a mutant means you grow up fast.
Over on 4 Yancy Street, at the Fantastic Four’s home, Reed Richards has a hard time figuring out why Franklin’s powers are depleting and how to fix it. This frustrates Franklin to the point of storming off on his parents.
Once they are alone Reed and Sue talk about how Franklin is taking his loss of power. Sue reminds Reed that Franklin is still young and trying to figure out his place in the world.
At a diner Ben Grimm tries to cheer up Franklin but is unsuccessful. Instead Franklin just talks about how his father, who is supposed to be the smartest man alive, can’t solve the problems with his powers. Ben tells Franklin that his father is a good man who cares about fixing their problems.
Johnny Storm suddenly shows up at the diner and tells Ben and Franklin they have a visitor waiting for them outside.
Outside, Sue has created an invisible barrier around her family and demands to know why the X-Men are there. Xavier shows up with Magneto and says they are there to talk about the future. Reed and Sue are quick to call out how they know they are there for Franklin.
Kate appears and phases through Sue’s barrier. Franklin, happy to see her, gives Kate (who he calls “Kitty”) a hug.
The X-Men and Fantastic Four decide to take things inside the latter’s home. After talking about how X-Men have changed his approach, that include the United Nations recognising Krakoa as its own country, Xavier talks about how he wants to protect all of mutantkind, including Franklin.
Sue is quick to turn down Xavier’s offer because they want Franklin and Valeria to grow up experiencing what its like to grow up as part of society. Magneto says that it will likely only be a matter of time before the Fantastic Four bring a major trouble to the neighborhood they are living in.
Magneto then reaches out to Franklin to join them but Sue is quick to put Magneto in a bubble to keep him away from her son. Xavier demands they release Magneto or else he will make them release him.
As things intensify Franklin asks Kate to take him out of there.
Outside 4 Yancy Street Storm and Ben talk about Franklin and Krakoa. Ben mentions that Krakoa seems to be like the new Genosha.
Storm then spots Kate floating away with Franklin.
Kate takes Franklin to the park to talk. Kate asks Franklin what he wants to do. Franklin isn’t sure but is considering that the X-Men can help him with his fluctuating powers. That said, Franklin mentions being scared his parents will freak out if he goes with them. Kate says that Franklin’s parents will eventually understand. Franklin thanks Kate for talking to him as he missed her.
Kate then shows Franklin one of the Krakoa portals that he can use to go to Krakoa.
Before a decision is made Human Torch shows up to stop Kate from taking Franklin. Storm shows up as well and uses her powers to send Human Torch flying with a strong gust of wind.
The rest of the Fantastic Four and X-Men are not too far behind and they all start fighting. While everyone fights Xavier and Reed get into it about who is best to help Franklin.
Watching from afar Kate asks Franklin what he wants to do. Hearing this Franklin books it for the Krakoa portal. Mysteriously Franklin phases through the portal instead. Reed reveals he created a device that masks Franklin’s mutant gene so he would not be able to go through the portal.
Franklin gets pissed off and says his father was supposed to help fix him. Reed says he is just trying to protect his son. This causes Franklin to storm off.
As the X-Men teleport back to Krakoa Xavier tells Reed that he is right about things being resolved over time.
Back home Valeria tells her brother that his situation is messed up and agrees their dad shouldn’t of placed a device on Franklin. Franklin says he is sick of being treated like a child that needs a tracking chip. Valeria mentions that tracking chips are made to be screwed with and parents are made to be ignored.
At Reed’s lab Ben tells Reed how he is making it difficult to defend him with his kids. He then leaves to give Sue a chance to talk to him.
Reed tells Sue he is just trying to protect their kids. Sue says she understands where Reed is coming from as she would’ve killed the X-Men if they took Franklin, which is a feeling that scares her. That said, Sue admits that what Reed did was wrong as they can’t take the power of choice away from Franklin. Reed understands that he needs to be a better father.
Over at Hellfire Bay Cyclops talks to Xavier on how things went with the Fantastic Four. Xavier mentions that they no longer need to approach Franklin as he will now approach them on his own.
Somewhere in the sea Kate goes to grab some flares during a storm. When she looks for them Kate finds Franklin and Valeria have stowed away on the Marauders boat. Franklin tells Kate that he wants to go to Krakoa. Valeria also says she wants to go. Kate is not sure about Valeria since she is human. That does not deter Valeria as she wants to see Krakoa for herself.
Kate reveals to Franklin and Valeria that they aren’t actually going to Krakoa because she and the Marauders are on a mutant rescue mission at the moment.
Just then the Marauders boat is stopped by mechanical tentacles. Doctor Doom then appears much to Franklin and Valeria’s shock. End of issue.
The Good: Chip Zdarsky along with Terry and Rachel Dodson waste no time in getting to the heart of what X-Men/Fantastic Four will be about. The current tension between the two teams is clear from the moment they appear on screen together. Through tapping into that tension Zdarsky and the Dodsons are able to establish why Franklin Richards is the key character in this crossover.
When it comes to crossovers, especially those that involve specific franchises, the creative team needs to walk a fine line in how the characters are presented. There will be many readers of X-Men/Fantastic Four that may not be reading the comics from one of these two Marvel franchises. That means there will be unfamiliarity with where some of these characters are at the moment.
To Zdarsky and the Dodsons credit they put in a lot of work to make sure X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 is an inviting start for fans of either franchise. As someone that falls into the camp of not being up to date on the current status quo of the Fantastic Four I appreciated how much work Zdarsky and the Dodsons put in to make you understand the current standing of Marvel’s First Family. All of the dialogue that Zdarsky writes for these characters is handled in a way that it is important in developing the Fantastic Four within the context of this story.
The same goes for the X-Men. Zdarsky gives the reader enough information through the dialogue to understand the current relationships that exist within the X-Men and mutant community as a whole. This makes all the talking that is done with the Fantastic Four and X-Men come across as natural conversations rather than filler content to pad out pages. Having more of a conversational pacing to the dialogue gives you as the reader a greater sense of investment in these characters.
Which is all incredibly important given how both the Fantastic Four and X-Men are coming into this crossover with different ideas of how Franklin Richards should deal with his powers. It would’ve been easy to paint one or both these teams as the antagonists of this story with Franklin stuck in the middle. Especially considering how Franklin is in such an important and confusing part of his life the Fantastic Four and X-Men could’ve come across as bad guys by placing their ideals on the kid.
Zdarsky is continuously careful with not crossing that line during X-Men/Fantastic Four #1. Sue Storm being self-aware when talking to Reed Richards in the second half of the issue is a good example of that. Sue admitting because of her maternal instincts she would’ve done anything to stop the X-Men from taking her son from them was an eyebrow raising moment. At the same time, Zdarsky uses that as an example of how important family is not only to Sue but also the entire Fantastic Four.
Which all helps show the difficulty in maintaining a tight family unit, especially in the superhero setting Reed and Sue are trying to raise their kids in. Creating this sub-plot of what it means for Reed and Sue to try to raise their kids in this setting is an intriguing question to raise. Magneto pointing that out during the conversation between the two teams was a great way to add to this sub-plot in this crossover. It’s the kind of sub-plot that can go beyond just this crossover as something long-term for the Fantastic Four.
Ben and Johnny being in the middle as a kind of voice of reason are good roles for both of them. Especially with Ben this role fits extremely well. It makes Ben trying to be an uncle to Franklin and Reed’s best friend a complicated one. Zdarsky plays into that with how Ben confronts Reed about what he did wrong in altering Franklin’s mutant gene without permission. How this Ben deals with Franklin’s situation is another sub-plot to watch for.
On the other end of this conflict, Zdarsky does a great job using the current status quo of the X-Men to advance the greater narrative around Krakoa. The X-Men trying to discuss Franklin’s power depletion shows a greater maturity in how Charles Xavier and Magneto are making Krakoa more diplomatic. Given all their experience they are now more of a talk first types and only go into fighting mode to defend themselves. Which is what we see once things break down that the X-Men don’t necessarily start the fight with the Fantastic Four.
Xavier choosing Kate Pryde to join the core team was further showed the foresight Krakoa’s leader has. Xavier understands that to properly approach Franklin they need to use the positive memories he has of the X-Men. The experience Franklin had in creating a friendship with Kate Pryde in the 1987 Fantastic Four vs X-Men crossover is a great use of the history between the two teams.
This also allowed Kate Pryde to show how flexible of a leader she is within the X-Men. Since the launch of Marauders we’ve seen a Shadowcat who has more of an edge to the way she approaches situations. But with X-Men/Fantastic Four we see her return to being Kitty Pryde. The fact that she does not correct Franklin that she goes by Kate now when he continuously calls her Kitty speaks to that. Kate knows that Franklin is still a kid and that he considers her a friend. Being called Kitty by him is a sign of their friendship so it works without breaking the current development Shadowcat has had as Kate Pryde.
With all that said, Franklin Richards role in X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 was by far the most interesting. Zdarsky does a great job painting Franklin as a teenager who feels like he is at a crossroad in his life. With his depleting powers Franklin has a feeling that he is losing a part of him that made him cool and important for his entire life. The fear of losing that makes you understand why he lashes out when his dad can’t come up with solutions to his problems.
This makes the X-Men inviting him to Krakoa an understably tempting offer for Franklin. While he has long been established as mutant he’s never had the chance to interact with other mutants. So there is a clear instant connection and trust that Franklin feels, especially after learning how his dad is trying to control him.
The way Valeria Richards helped her brother was a natural way to give her an important role in the story. Zdarsky plays into Valeria’s rebel side as soon as she appears on screen. Zdarsky plays it just right as Valeria helps Franklin out of concern for him while also seeing this as an opportunity to go to Krakoa. It is all in line with how Valeria has a great sense of adventure as a scientist while avoiding making her come across as a selfish person.
Doctor Doom’s appearance at the end of X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 was an obvious but appropriate cliffhanger to bookmark this issue on. Doctor Doom is yet another player that could add a third option in this conflict around Franklin’s power depletion. Hearing that the Marauders were on a mutant rescue mission also leads to greater interest in what Doctor Doom’s relation to Krakoa’s current status quo is.
The informational page on Reed Richard’s research into the Godpower was a nice way to continue the running thread of developing concepts revolving around the X-Men. What makes Reed’s research into Godpower even more compelling is the fact that we’ve already seen connections to other superheroes powers to this theory. The biggest one being the Spider-Man Family’s relation to the Spider-Totems and Web of Life and Death during the Spider-Verse event. That is one example of Godpower within the Marvel Universe. It is likely the Godpower theory can also relate to not only the Fantastic Four as Reed theorizes but mutants as well.
With how much story was in X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 both Terry and Rachel Dodson step up huge to help in getting all of the dialogue across with how they drew each character. Even without the dialogue you could understand how each character was feeling because of how the Dodson’s drew and colored every panel. The detail in every character in this issue’s reactions was spot on. Once things broke down the Dodson’s showed how they are able to deliver big event action. Having a big event feel extended to the way Doctor Doom’s appearance came across as a big deal because of how the Dodson’s drew and colored that final page.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 is a strong start to this crossover between two of Marvel’s biggest franchises. Chip Zdarsky creates a compelling narrative around Franklin Richards’ current status as a mutant. How that leads to the conflict between the X-Men and Fantastic Four is handled well. Having Terry and Rachel Dodson on as the artist team for this crossover added to how X-Men/Fantastic Four came across as a big event from the opening page.
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