Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artists: Steve McNiven (p), Mark Morales (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
With their fortune gone the Fantastic Four are forced to find jobs, and while Ben and Sue are able to land jobs, Johnny soon discovers he's not even good enough to be a sponge that lives off the fortunes of his super-model girlfriend, who is quick to dump him thanks to his newfound loser status. Meanwhile Reed is trying to solve the team's financial crisis by figuring out the formula to the stock market, and needless to say in spite of his genius, Reed unable to make it work, and Sue isn't exactly pleased to learn he's set his sights on such a time consuming venture.
If not for the goofy premise at this book's core this wouldn't be a half bad look at the team, as Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa shows a pretty good understanding of the group, and their personalities. I mean there's a wonderful scene between Sue and Reed where she confronts him about his inability to see the situation that they're in, as he's busy trying to figure out the complex formula behind the stock market rather than working out a simple solution. There's also a nice scene in the final pages between Ben and Johnny where we see the two share a moment together where they aren't engaged in their never ending feud, and it's moments like this that have me thinking if this book wasn't saddled with its silly premise than Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa might very well be a good writer. Now the scene where Sue deals with her unruly class was a cute display of her power, and one has to enjoy the big threat that she uses to pacify the group, but again this is an idea that is hampered by the book's inability to convince me of the reason why Sue needed to take this job. Still, the book does nicely acknowledge the elements of these characters that I've enjoyed over the decades, such as Johnny impulsive nature as he rushes off after learning he'll be sharing a room with Ben, or Reed's reaction when he discovers that he was supposed to pick up Franklin over three hours ago. I also enjoyed how quickly Reed is able to get over his concern for Franklin when Sue asks him about what he's working on, as this is a perfect Reed Richards moment.
Another bad thing about this book's ill-conceived premise is that it's proving to be a waste of some lovely art. Steve McNiven's art looks fantastic, and in some ways it's a shame to see that he's stuck on a book where the writer wants to focus on the interpersonal relationships between the cast, as I'd loved to see his work on a Fantastic Four adventure. Now while most of the issue is talking heads this issue does manage to deliver one memorable visual experience, as Ben's encounter with the speeding car is a truly amazing display of the character's strength. The art does deliver the talking heads moments quite well though, as one has to love clueless expression as he's reacting to Sue's comments that he needed to pick up Franklin from school. There's also some nice work on the little details like the fact that the clothing of the characters actually reflects their personalities, or Reed's face full of stubble to tell readers that he's in the midst of one of his serious thinking sessions. The rain soaked environment of the final pages also looks wonderful, as it nicely reflects the sorry state of our cast.
Even if I was willing to accept the problem-laden premise Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has crafted about the Fantastic Four being stripped of their fortune and unable to come up with a means of instantly replacing it, the simple fact of the matter is that even within the confines of this premise Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa seems perfectly willing to ignore the limits that he's imposed upon the group. I mean if the Fantastic Four are super-villain magnets who reputation causes the landlords of almost every building in New York City to turn down their efforts to secure housing, than how was Sue able to get her job as a teacher, as one would think that being a super-villain magnet would be a serious strike against any applicant looking for a job in a building that is jam packed full of lawsuits just waiting to be sprung when that first super-villain decides to strike out at your new teacher. One also has to wonder about Ben's new job, as while he made an impressive showing at his job interview by saving a trapped worker, with construction sites being the one of most popular locals for highly destructive battles in the Marvel Universe, one would think that the insurance company that was cover the project would be screaming bloody murder over the presence of a super-hero on site, especially one of Ben's reputation as you just know he's looked upon as a bull in a china shop by every insurance company in the city. If the writer who actually came up with the idea is having difficulty working within the premise that he came up with than you know there is something seriously wrong with it.
Cause I Ain't Got No Money:
This book acts as a telling example of how big an impact a poorly conceived plot can make, as while Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa shows he's capable of some powerful character moments, my enjoyment of this issue is hampered by his inability to convince me of the idea that the fantastic Four could not only be stripped of their fortune, but that they would have no means of building it back up. Yes this issue is dependent on one accepting the idea that the Fantastic Four have burned all their bridges within the super-hero community. It asks us to believe that Reed and company have suddenly become complete undesirables whose remarkable achievements are meaningless. Yes if one can ignore the ever growing pile of reasons why having the Fantastic Four living in a flea-bag motel, with barely two cents to their name is an silly idea, than one is also faced with the idea that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is perfectly willing to forget about the hurdles he's crafted when it suits the needs of his story, like the idea that Sue is able to get a job teaching children when the rest of the issue is selling the idea that the mere presence of the Fantastic Four makes people nervous. This is a bad idea, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa should get out of it as soon as he can.
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