"Doom, Part 4"
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: Stuart Immonen (p), Wade von Grawbadger (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As Reed discovers that the military is being sent after Victor Van Damme, we see he is convinced that once the military get their hands on Victor they'll never see him again, and the possible cure for their conditions that lurks within his troubled mind will be lost. As Reed recruits the others for a mission to make contact with Victor before the military, we see Victor is eagerly anticipating their arrival.
I realize that the new style has writers taking the time to expand on the little moments that were only given a fleeting glimpse in the past, as they rushed toward the climax, but it's issues like this that make me wonder if this new trend is really such a good thing. I mean the plot advancement of this issue is basically the Fantastic Four deciding they have to confront Victor Van Damme before the military, while Victor awaits their arrival with evil anticipation. This used to be a throwaway scene that writers tossed off in a couple panels but this issue manages to expand it so it fills the twenty-two pages. Now the madness of Victor is further established as there is something strangely endearing about the scene where Victor reacts to the failure of his sinister plan. There's also a very funny exchange between our heroes after they learn what Reed named his flying car, and Thing fans are sure to enjoy the explanation for where Ben's famous battle cry came from. There's also a sweet little scene between Reed and Sue that manages to underscore the fact that these two are destined to be together, and the reason why Reed built his flying car was a nice humanizing moment for the character. However, these engaging character moments simply aren't enough to have me ignoring the fact that this issue contains precious little forward momentum. Still, a rousing finish would do a lot to redeem this arc, and this issue has moved all the pieces into place.
Stuart Immonen is a solid artist, and given this issue doesn't really offer up much in the way of action that would afford artists an easy method of impressing the readers, one has more time to admire his ability to deliver the quieter moments of the issue, such as Reed's growing sense of frustration when he learns it's unlikely they'll be given access to Victor. The art also does a solid job of conveying Victor's insanity from his childlike delight as he views what he believes are Reed's final moments, to his murderous lunge at the poor sap who tells him to "be cool". I also enjoyed the visual design of the Fantasti-Car as it looks high-tech, but not so much so that one couldn't imagine that a thirteen year old Reed could've constructed it. The scene where the Fantasti-Car lifts off also has a nice sense of majesty to it, and I loved Sue's expression after lift-off.
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