Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Andy Kubert
Publisher: Marvel Comics
After opening the book with a look in on a meeting between Doctor Strange and the Watcher, in which the entity clearly lays out the idea that the Marvel Universe has fallen victim to a devastating temporal anomaly, we join the heroes of this story as they launch an assault on Doom's castle. We then see their efforts draw Doom's attentions away so that the Fantastic Four are able to escape his clutches, and join in the effort to bring him down.
This issue marks the first time we get a sense that this story is going to tie back into Marvel Continuity, as the opening part of this issue busies itself with an explanation for how the Marvel Universe came into existence 400 years before its time, and the scene ends with a possible solution being offered up to correct this potentially universe ending temporal anomaly. This issue also gives us our first look at the Fantastic Four, which is always going to earn a book a positive review in my book as I'm a big fan of the group, and this issue shows them making a fairly impressive escape from Doom's clutches, with the Thing making a particularly strong showing with his escape from the Deep Cells. This issue also moves the story to a fairly exciting place as we see almost all the Marvel heroes have gathered together in this issue, and there's also a couple fun surprises as one of the big three from the Avengers finally makes an appearance, and he does so in a way that one can't help but be impressed by the sense of authority this character is able to convey. There's also an interesting twist revealed on the final page as we see one of the series villains has seemingly been betrayed by one that he had viewed as an ally, and if there's one thing that is sure to wake up this character's righteous fury it's a betrayal by someone who represents the very evil this villain has spent his entire life fighting against.
As this miniseries progresses I have to say I'm starting to warm to the digital paints directly over Andy Kubert's pencils, as while I find the final result looks a bit washed out and lack definition, I've become more and more impressed by how well this style lends itself to the lighting effects, like the crisp morning sky as the Angel goes for a flight above the flying ship, and the almost alien look of the sky when the battle starts up and we see the sky filled with different colored blasts of power. There's also some memorable action shots like the page where we see the flight of the Vultures descending on the flying ship, or the one page spread where we see Daredevil puts on an impressive display of his agility. There's also a great shot of the assembled Fantastic Four when they confront Doom, and the appearance of the mystery hero, who arrives to save the falling ship is a great looking visual. I also have to say that I found the cover to this issue to be delightfully surreal even if it seems to have little to do with the story inside.
I don't want to sound too negative against this miniseries as Neil Gaiman has proven himself numerous times as a writer who knows how to tell an complete story, but I do have some issues with his pacing, as there are moments where I found myself a bit impatient for the material to get moving, and while this isn't a huge problem in this issue, as it's a fairly action intensive chapter, the simple fact of the matter is that we're three-quarters of the way through this story and we've only arrived at the point were it's been acknowledged that this situation is wrong, and that steps need to be taken by these characters to correct it. What's more when Doctor Strange does get back from his informative visit with the Watcher the book shifts its attention away from the character, and it seems far more interested in continuing its introduction of various heroes, which to my mind is something that should've been dealt with in the opening chapters. Still, Neil Gaiman has left himself two issues to wrap it up, and in the process he's crafted a pretty interesting mystery as one is left to guess which character is responsible for this temporal anomaly (I'm putting my money on Nick Fury). Plus, he's assembled a fairly impressive cast to resolve this crisis, even if it is one that only contains one Avenger wearing a white hat.
Hell Hath No Fury Like A Power Mad Mutant Scorned:
This issue pretty much lines up all the pieces for what looks like a fairly memorable finish, as the opening third of the issue pretty much lays out what has happened to the time line that has the Marvel Universe coming into existence 400 years in the past, and the final two thirds of the issue finishes assembling the cast of characters who will help correct this temporal disaster, with the Fantastic Four getting themselves on of the best introduction sequences of this entire miniseries, as we see the four make their escape from Doom's various prison cells. There's also some interesting mysteries that are set up, as we don't yet know which of these characters is responsible for this situation, and Neil Gaiman also sets up a couple of small discrepancies that could be very important, as Nick Fury seems surprised when he mixes up John Grey's gender, which suggests to me he's the one character in this book who has knowledge of this there's something wrong with this picture. However, there's also a scene where we see Doom has gotten himself a hold of an item from the future, and one has to imagine this ties into the situation.
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