Wednesday, April 13, 2005

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #17

This penultimate chapter of N-Zone was terrifically funny stuff. It had the same tone as Ellis's episode of JLU ("Dark Heart") -- witty and intelligent without flying over kids' heads. Now if only the cover didn't have that mildly freaky and totally unnecessary tuchus shot of Sue....

Reed and Ben's egress from the hot zone, a super combination of humor and use of powers, highlighting the fact that Reed and Ben were buddies before all the weird stuff happened, was wonderful. Similarly, the contrast between Reed and Ben's kinetic motion and Sue's anxious stillness as she waited at Johnny's side for their return. Reed and Ben kept in constant verbal contact to keep track of the other's progress, but Sue could only talk to the air and have faith that Reed wouldn't get distracted by the shiny.

Nonetheless, this was very much a Ben issue -- the big guy got to use his brawn this month and seemed positively cheerful that he could take care of himself without any of the uncertainty that has plagued him since his transformation. Ben has spent most of his time at the Baxter Building being confused and careful -- he doesn't understand the science that Reed and Sue breathe like air, he's afraid of breaking things through his ignorance and the newness of his ungainly form, and he's still not quite comfortable palling around with the younger Johnny. He's gotten so many of the best lines of dialogue since the start of the series, but he's also been looking for something to do besides serve as acerbic Greek Chorus and occasional interlocutor. Clobbering all the baddies here was a release in many ways, then -- a chance to be useful and self-sufficient and even to protect Reed from the effects of his own geekiness and curiosity, just like it was in the old days when he was keeping Reed from his daily swirlie. There's nothing inherently insulting in being the team muscle.

The trade has been solicited for June 2005, so add it to your wishlists.

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