Sunday, June 26, 2005

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #19-20

You can't really go wrong with Mike Carey and Jae Lee as the fill-in team between Warren Ellis and Mark Millar.

This is a sea change from Ellis's run in tone and tempo, even as it follows plot-wise. The characters speak with different voices, albeit recognizable ones. Ellis is a pseudo-science, technobabble kind of guy, but Carey takes a more traditional route, especially considering his taste for mutilation (especially of and by family members) in some of his efforts for Vertigo -- self-inflicted neurosurgery and involuntary brain donation. Rhona Burchill's a piece of work.

The story itself fits neatly between Ellis's N-Zone arc and Millar's upcoming Crisis on Multiple Earths thing -- after making a mess of the Las Vegas strip as they fought their way free of the N-Zone and their pursuers, the Four have destroyed their veil of secrecy and are being escorted back to the Baxter Building... which has been taken over by rejected candidate Rhona, who has eyes only for revenge on Reed Richards, the candidate chosen at the same time she was rejected. She holds an auction for the newly revealed Four, won by a Latverian concern, and things look to be bleak for our heroes.

What ends up is a battle of wits between Rhona and Reed and it's not really that close. Rhona has been planning for this and Reed is somewhat outside of his purview and really isn't used to being outsmarted. That he wins in the end (again) and Rhona loses is a relief to everyone else, but is extremely unsatisfying to Reed because of how he defeated Rhona -- dumb luck. Rhona is the only one who can appreciate Reed's reaction. "I hate the random factor. It makes the best predictions problematic. It gives mediocre minds an unfair advantage," she grumbled after Reed freed himself. And even though he was the beneficiary of the random factor, Reed burns at the accepted implication that that is the only reason why he succeeded.

(Reading this story directly after digesting this week's Legion of Superheroes was most entertaining; Reed, Brainy, and Rhona...)

Lee's art, as ever, is interesting and gorgeous, cutting between realist and fantastic in the same panel.

As for what comes next... meh. I derive great pleasure from the old JLoA Earth One and Earth Two teamups, but they came with a down side: there's a reason why DC had to instigate The Crisis back in 1986 and it started with a little dimensional hopping.

1 Comments:

Anonymous ussentinel said...

As usual, an excellent and well thought out review (which I enjoy reading -- keep it up). I thought this was an interesting spin on the non-Ultimate Marvel villain the Mad Thinker and his awesome Android. There was the nice parallel with her here and the original unable to factor in a "random element." I thought it was a clever move on the writer's part with her speech pattern too. Eh, I am a sucker for "bitter revenge" stories. I thought a lot of Jae's pages looked liked frameable pop-art pieces.

Sun Jun 26, 06:47:00 PM EDT  

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