“Silver Surfer 4 of 5”
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Pasqual Ferry
Publisher: Marvel Comics
There is nothing inherently wrong with Ultimate Fantastic Four #45. Ferry’s art has really started to grow on me; it lacks the kind of weight and gravitas I prefer in my superhero comics (I think it makes the silliness inherent in the genre more palpable), but he has a really neat sense of design. His work is like a more tangible, concrete version of Ken Steacy’s stuff.
And the story? There is nothing wrong with it, either. In fact, the premise is downright nifty.
The FF have been transported to Zenn-La, a planet blissfully under the rule of Psycho-Man, who keeps the entire populace segregated according to clothing color and oh-so-happy to be his puppets. None of the FF remembers their true origins – both in the sense of being from Earth and in the comic-booky sense of having powers – except for Ben, who has been reduced to the village idiot but still attempts to remind Reed of who they really are. Finally, the Silver Searcher – you read that right – shocks Reed into remembering who he truly is and realizing that he must save his teammates.
No, there is nothing inherently wrong with this story, but we’ve seen it so many times, and it has been done so much better. I think the first time I encountered this clichéd plot was in an issue of Trouble with Girls which, God bless him, a dealer in Columbus, Ohio, used to sell to me when I was way underage. It helped me through a lot of lonely adolescent nights, that one did. Of course, it was also done fairly recently in the way-good Justice League: A Midsummer’s Nightmare. Then there is The Matrix, a little film using this particular plot. Hell, it’s a story as old as Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave”: Our protagonists are living a lie and must force themselves to confront and defeat that lie.
No, there is nothing wrong with Ultimate Fantastic Four #45, but there is nothing new either.
And no, calling him the Silver Searcher does not constitute something new.
All the Ultimate books are derivative. After all, they are based on source material that is close to fifty years old. But for the price of admission I feel they at least owe me a novel approach to that old material. That kind of approach is nowhere to be found in this issue.
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