Continuing their ride on the great space coaster (get on board!) Reed, Sue and co. head back in time to the Roman era, specifically the Ides of March when Julius Caesar is to be assassinated on the steps of the Senate. Sue finds out Reeds’ real reasons for this unexpected family vacation while Johnny, Ben, and the kids wander about Rome and wind up in the Circus Maximus!
Matt Fraction has written an interesting comic in #5 where a lot of stuff is going on at once: we get progression of the main plot, that is Reed dying, while we get a lot of great Roman stuff for the Fantastic Four (or two of them anyway) to get involved with. This issue is also educational (though I realise this isn’t a necessary quality for a superhero comic to have); the first page goes over Plutarch’s account of Caesar’s death and we learn little bits of ancient history along the way, as well as some Shakespeare – the comic is really clever and entertaining at the same time.
Fraction’s really doing a solid job with this series, despite the storyline having the handicap of being predictable – we know Reed’s not really going to die. I mean, come on, really, now? Of course he’s not. So while Sue looks concerned and I’m sure we’ll have a lot more of that when the others find out in the next issue or so, it feels all for nought because Marvel would never kill off Reed.
I did think the reveal of who Caesar really was, was a bit goofy, especially how “he” came to Earth – really, does that form require a spaceship humans could use? In its form? Anyway, it’s a minor complaint.
Mark Bagley’s art is really enjoyable too – his Thing looks really good in this issue (which would sound very suggestive if this weren’t a Fantastic Four comic), even more so than earlier in the series. Thing looks like an extremely difficult character to get right but Bagley really nails it, especially in the circus scene.
Fantastic Four #5 is a really fun comic that has the right amount of intelligence, action, imagination, and humour that a Fantastic Four comic needs to work well, and Fraction and Bagley have gotten the formula just right. It’s a great series that’s well worth checking out.
Fantastic Four #5 by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley is out now at your local comics store or online digitally
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