Marvel has tried really hard in the past decade to get new readers on board with their material. They started the Ultimate comics line for that sole purpose and they didn't stop there. They did the Point One Initiative (which technically is still going) and now we're at Marvel NOW!, a line-wide relaunch of most of the major titles. Some of these relaunches have been very effective, others not so much. What makes the successful ones good and the bad ones tank? Well, I know the answer to one of those, because it can be found in the first issue of FF #1.
When Marvel NOW! was announced, Matt Fraction was given the reigns to the Fantastic Four and Future Foundation (or FF). With these two books, he's doing his best to create an interconnected story that doesn't force the reader to pick up both halves. With FF, Fraction has Reed Richards choosing his successors to the Future Foundation for the short time he'll be gone with his family on 'vacation.'
This first issue is nearly perfect. The pacing within the story keeps you moving along steadily and the content keeps you interested as we see each of the Fantastic Four choose their successor and meet all the kids in the FF. What is really remarkable about this is how Fraction is able to juggle so much information. Newcomers won't be lost as enough time is spent with each character to really get a grasp on who they are, while old readers will appreciate the influence of previous stories on the current title. As I said in my Fantastic Four review, Fraction knows how to write that family dynamic and those characters and the same goes for the new FF. Even though none of them are really affiliated with each other at the start, you can see what kind of relationships they'll have as the story progresses.
Michael Allred is the artist for the book and he brings a different style from the Fantastic Four's Mark Bagley. While Bagley went for a broader look with a realistic influence on the Fantastic Four, Allred is sticking to his Madman-style roots. While you won't find a lot of dynamic splash pages that Marvel could sell as posters, you do get sharp-looking pictures that really enhance the intimate moments of the story. It's far from perfect, but it stands out from the other Marvel books by doing it's own thing and not worrying about sticking to the status quo.
I was really surprised by this book. I'll admit that I wasn't all that excited for it in the beginning and I'm all turned around. FF is one of the most interesting and well-written comics to come out of Marvel NOW! and you should be reading it.
Rating: 9.5 / 10