“Enemy of the State: Part 3 (of 6)”
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: John Romita Jr. (p), Klaus Janson (i)
After a cool first issue which saw Wolvie get reprogrammed as an agent of evil, and a disappointing second which saw him take on Elektra, Mark Millar continues his quest to match Wolverine up against every hero in the Marvel Universe – and this time round, it’s the turn of Lee and Kirby’s finest: the Fantastic Four.
I’ve never been able to get into the Fantastic Four in their own books, as the team has always seemed a little limp and insubstantial compared to some of the other titles I read. However, Millar succeeds here in justifying their fantastical reputation, with a slew of brilliantly inventive ideas that just keep on coming. Millar has one of the best imaginations in the industry, but on many occasions he has trouble putting it all together, opting for the kitchen sink approach which sunk last issue and which has crowded out parts of his Spider-Man title instead of paring down his concepts into a readable story. However, here he strikes a solid balance between telling an entertaining, simple story and peppering it with some lovely details that really make the story stand out as more than just a simple slugfest. Reed’s excursions into non-space, his lovely dialogue with Sue about his artificial personality computer (with a nice in-character payoff at the end) and Sue’s sending of their children a little forward in time to keep them safe are all throwaway moments that elevate the writing this issue from perfunctory narration of a fight sequence to an essential element of the issue.
Wolverine’s attack on the Baxter Building is rendered in all its glory by John Romita Jr, doing his usual stand-up job here, and showing just how easily he can adapt to whatever Millar throws at him. Logan’s resurrection at the hands of Hydra, Johnny’s Firebird propelled through a solid wall, and the Thing’s bone-shaking entry into the fray are all highlights of an issue which makes me miss his presence in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. Klaus Janson’s inks are a huge improvement over the duo’s collaboration in Gray Area too, with the heavy black areas and occasional scratchiness lending a rougher, tougher edge to the action which suits the title character well.
There are occasional flaws in the issue, with Wolverine’s various upgrades seemingly being written into the plot whenever their powers are demanded and the apparent ‘reveal’ at the end of the issue meaning nothing to me (am I missing something?). However, the previously unsatisfactory elements of the book are improving, with Wolverine’s conflicting inner monologue sounding a lot more genuine this time around, providing a sense of Logan’s morality as appalled by his actions – ‘his own hand against his heart’, as Shakespeare once put it – which pulls the action elements up from mere eye-candy to significantly damaging events for Logan’s character. There’s definite potential in the arc yet, but how long Millar can keep the reader interested with such a hitherto thin plot remains to be seen.
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