Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Mike Wieringo (p), Karl Kesel (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As the Fantastic Four race around New York looking to make contact with the people who are currently playing host to their errant powers, we see this task is made all the more difficult as their powers don't remain in a single host for very long. Reed has made a choice in secret that involves curing Ben, but Ben quickly picks up what Reed's trying to do, and he takes steps to keep Reed from following through with his plan, even if it means becoming the Thing once again.
Comments: While the final moments of this issue were a little too deliberate in their attempt to sing the praises of the Fantastic Four, I have to confess that Mark Waid does a pretty good job of making his final kick at the can a love letter to one of my favourite teams. The final speech manages to deftly spell out why I expect most FF fans initially latched on to this team. Unlike the other super-hero teams, the Fantastic Four actively seek out the dangers that they face. I expect that probably 3/4ths of the threats that they face would have never even endangered the team if the FF hadn't actively sought them out. Now one could argue that this makes them a bit foolish, but there is a base element of human nature that this team taps into. How can one not be curious about the unknown? I'm sure I'm not the only one who devours any and every article about the visits that we're making to the other planetary bodies in our system, or the ones that detail the discovery of a new life form that has been living at the bottom of a deep ocean trench. FF fans hear about the soft tissue found inside a T-Rex bone and they're asking how long would it take to clone a dinosaur. Now this final issue is a rather silly power swapping adventure, as the FF scramble around New York City trying to grab their errant powers which are busy jumping from host to host. However, while this is a madcap adventure that is played largely for laughs, the issue does manage to offer up a powerful exchange that centres around Ben and his willingness/reluctance to return to his life trapped inside a rocky hide. There's also a genuinely funny bit that has the Fantastic Four venturing inside a strip club.
I also loved the dramatic simplicity of this issue's cover, as I can't think of a better visual to sell the family dynamic of the Fantastic Four, and while it has the potential to be quite cheesy I for one hope this classic scene finds its way into upcoming film. As for the interior art it's pretty clear that Mike Wieringo was having a grand old time playing with the power swapping element of this plot, as it provides him with a wealth of visual gags, from the smile inducing sound effects that are used to frame the scene in the strip club, to the laugh out loud sequence involving the close calls that Johnny had when he's trying to regain his power. I also have to say that if I ever had any doubts about Ben's simple costume design, that shot of him in the normal team uniform pretty much rid me of this concern, as it completely threw the visual dynamic of the team off. Mike Wieringo's work will be missed, though it'll be great to see him back on a Spider-Man title.
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