Never in a million years did I think I’d consider an issue of Ultimate Fantastic Four to be my favorite Ultimate book, let alone my favorite book of the week. Yet here it is.
The issue starts with Reed talking to himself, Sue, Johnny and Ben from 24 hours in the future, in the desert right before did the experiment that gave them all powers. The FF from 24 hours later is there to stop the experiment from going forward, and we follow the Reed from now for the remainder of the book and see why the team decides to go back in time to stop the experiment.
Johnny’s having a birthday party, and somehow he convinces Ben that it’s a theme party: come as an old movie star, guys go as girls, girls go as guys. Ben shows up dressed as Carmen Miranda and Johnny has a great laugh at Ben’s expense, but Ben runs away in tears. Johnny, Reed and Sue chase him down and Ben tells them all that he can’t stand living as a monster. “I’d slit my wrists if I could find a razor that didn’t break every time I tried.” So the team goes back in time to stop the experiment so Ben can have a normal life.
Of course, everything goes wrong and they create a world in which Thor is President and everyone has superpowers.
It was really the little things that made this issue great. The acknowledgement that the Skrulls have shown up before in the Ultimate Universe before, and they were called the Chitauri then. Thor as a guest at Johnny’s party. Jean Grey and Kitty Pryde on an expedition with Sue. Little bits like that are what make the Ultimate Universe seem like an actual universe for those of us that love that sort of thing, yet it doesn’t take away from the story if you don’t read Ultimate X-Men or the Ultimates. And the subplot with the Fantastic Four zombies is progressing slowly but surely, and I can’t wait for it to explode.
The art on this issue, and this whole run so far, has been amazing. Gred Land, Matt Ryan and Justin Ponsor do a phenomenal job conveying emotion, particularly in the scenes where we see Ben crying. It’s not easy to make a thousand pound rock monster look vulnearble, but these guys do it. And they do the hero shots and flesh-eating zombies just as well. I’m amazed they’re able to churn out art this great on a monthly basis.
Of course, Mark Millar is the reason it all works so well. The man is one of the best comic writers today, and he really excels in titles where he doesn’t have to worry about maintaing the status quo. Unlike his Wolverine or Spider-Man runs, where he couldn’t make any lasting changes, he has pretty much free reign with the Ultimate titles, as the status quo hasn’t really even been determined yet. That makes for some pretty awesome storytelling oppurtunities, and it’s really a shame that it’s only going to last for 5 more issues.