ďDonít Make Me Embarrass You In Front of Your FriendsĒ
Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
Artists: Paul Pelletier (p), Rick Magyar (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: The Surfer doesnít want to fight the Fantastic Four, but he must deliver Epoch the Living Planet to his master Galactus for sustenance. Epoch doesnít want to be eaten, but she must pass on what she knows to Gravity. Gravity doesnít want to be dead, but he must accept the new role she offers him. Black Panther (the new FF leader) doesnít want to get involved, but Storm refuses to let him walk away.
Comments: McDuffie is a breath of fresh air for this title. Itís certainly much more fun since he arrived. Of course, it helps that Civil War is over. And heís shamelessly using his own recent work on Beyond! to complicate the FFís world, but why shouldnít he? That Marvel-centric series was one of last yearís best. Heís managed to find a more playful and humorous corner of the Marvel Universe to play in than anyone else lately, and thatís a respite this team needs after the strains of Civil War. The dialogue has a humorous ring again, and yet the stakes and real drama havenít been compromised.
Donít let the cover fool you: the Surfer and Stardust arenít the new FF, and Reed and Sue arenít entirely absent either. McDuffie keeps a lot of pots in the air, yet finds time to refer obliquely to Annihilation, while letting Ororo and TíChalla grow into their roles as co-leaders in the mode of Reed and Sue. The sense of family is intact and more diverse than ever.
And the scenes involving Gravity are the promised payoff to the Beyond! series, which ended unexpectedly with his tragic demise. Now heís become just the sort of cosmic character the FF is designed for. McDuffie stepped on board to find the crew in tattered disarray, and heís streamlined them all back to the fast track in just a few issues. Itís a miracle that someone was able to fashion a silk purse out of the aftermath of Civil War. While the implications of that title still havenít been adequately resolved, at least this title is fun again.
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