"The Stuff of Nightmares, Part Two"
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Pencils: Jim Muniz
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Sotocolor's J. Brown
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
As the island of Manhattan is caught up in a collective waking nightmare we see the Fantastic Four are working to locate the villain they believe is responsible. As Johnny and Ben work to protect the public from the nightmarish creatures that plague the city, Sue follows the energy signature that is powering these nightmares. As Sue makes an effort to free the city, we look in on Reed as he's able to figure out the present location of the Psycho-Man.
This issue does have a bit of a problem in that while it does have the Fantastic Four employing their various talents to rescue Manhattan from the Psycho-Man's grip of terror, it has them all performing their heroic contributions off on their own, and this acts against the entire family concept that stands at the core of this series. In fact if I've noticed one thing about this series it's that when it introduces the threat it does it's best to break apart the team so instead of a display of teamwork, instead the threat is overcome through a series of individual efforts. I also can't help but note that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa seems to be overly fond of using Sue as the quick fix solution to the threats, as we see this issue suddenly has the character able to zero in on the energy patterns that Psycho-Man is using to infect the city, and she's able to scatter them to the four winds thus freeing the city. In the end while I enjoyed this issue's display of individual efforts, I have to openly wonder if Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa doesn't understand that one of the main reasons why the Fantastic Four has worked as a concept for the past three decades, as he seems to be treating them like every other super-hero team comprised of individuals, rather than a four characters who form a single entity. I know it sounds like I'm simply searching for something to whine about, but truth be told this series needs to offer up a story that recognizes these characters work best as a single unit when facing threats, as this is what I feel is keeping this book from fully connecting with the team's fan-base.
Jim Muniz has a style that reminds me of the art that was a regular part of the 1980s, as it has a good eye when it comes to the fundamentals from a solid grasp on the various facial expressions, to it's clearly rendered action. What it is lacking is a sense of visual excitement, as there's no real moments where the art jumps off the page, as even the big impact images such as Johnny's use of the flaming four to calm the general public, or Sue's efforts to protect the family from the crashing helicopter never quite grabbed my attention. I mean there's nothing terribly wrong with the art, and part of my lack of enthusiasm regarding the art could still be due to Steve McNiven's departure, but I have to say the art simply doesn't project the needed sense of excitement. Of course the writing could've done a better job of coming up with nightmarish moment for the art to deliver.
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