Parallel universes, a world on the edge of destruction from a black hole, and a man from the future with a portent of events that must be avoided at all costs – not a surprising turn of events for the Fantastic Four. This scifi book has a little something for everyone.
The first part of this story involves Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic, who has the power stretch his body) using his true talent – his mind. He has a list of the 100 most important things he could do – and has just added one more, to Solve Everything. In deciding to pursue that, he has warranted the attention of a Council made up of Reed’s from other parallel universes. They offer him a position within their ranks, one in which he can make a larger difference than he ever thought possible – by seeding entire worlds with food to feed the “multiverse”, taking down cosmic threats and remolding the very matter of the universe itself to protect life. The only cost is his very soul, as he’ll have to give up on his family, since he’ll never be able to do all these wonderful things and still be a good father and husband – but isn’t the result worth the price?
Then comes a story where Torch and The Thing, along with the stowaway children of Reed and Sue, wind up on a planet they thought they were going to for a little R&R – only to discover it’s not the place they left only a few weeks ago. Years have passed on this planet, due to some time-distortion because of the collapse of their star – and now the planet is poised on the edge of destruction, and the civilization is at war over how best to end their predicament. The Thing is captured by one side of the fight, while Torch and the kids fight along with the other side to get him back and find some way off this world before topples into the black hole…
Finally, after a day of celebrating with friends and superheroes on Franklin Richard’s birthday, he receives a visitor from the future bringing a dire warning – the war of the Four Cities is coming, and Doom may be their only chance of survival.
I’ll confess, I’ve never been much of a fan of Marvel’s First Family, the Fantastic Four (which is also sometimes called The Worlds Greatest Comic Magazine). I’m not so sure about some of those titles, but I will say I was pleasantly surprised to see how much I enjoyed this book. These are not the most action packed issues, the highlights as far as that goes would be the Council of Reeds fighting Celestials as well as Torch and The Thing fighting the cybernetic warriors on nu-world. But more than those things, it’s the ideas presented within this book that are worthy of mention. This is a big thinking book, talking about science fiction and really tackling those kinds of high concepts in a no nonsense way. The writers don’t back away from these ideas (like the idea of giving up ones desires for a greater good) with a knock-down drag-out fight, they have the characters carefully consider their choices and determine their own fates.
Though, speaking of fate, I also love a good “prophecy” – and obviously the end of this book gives one of those as well. It’s worth reading to see who it is that gives this warning, as well as the powers it exposes for one particular character – far greater than anything I think anyone has ever imagined. It’s these things that’ll have me coming back for the next volume in this series, to see where the Fantastic Four are headed next.