Having absolutely nothing to do with the Black Panther story from ‘Fantastic Four’ #608, this issue goes off into one-shot territory to tell us the tale of a future team of Defenders and their time-traveling journey to fix their timeline.
This issue opens in the past, one week after the death of Johnny Storm to be precise. We see Reed Richards (or possibly A Reed Richards) discussing some clandestine project with an android called Alyssa. They’re debating turning something into a spaceship. That something? …Galactus!
The reason for the Galactus spaceship is that, in some alternate timeline, a set of future defenders killed the Devourer of Worlds to use his energy to save their world from a disastrous past. They fixed their world but caused an unforeseeable disaster. Now they are lost in an alternate future that doesn’t exist and they intend to get home.
The future Defenders come to present times to get Galactus’ body and forge a ship that will take them back to their own original future. They enlist the aid of Reed Richards to help them build this ship. Yeah… The story this issue is about as confusing and weird as that sounds.
The story may have made more sense if I knew the significance of this alternate timeline set of Defenders but, as it is, it’s just and odd one off story that might be a bit better to obscure continuity aficionados. I’ll hold off giving this one a “burn” rating because Hickman has managed to pull quite a few seemingly random storylines into one cohesive piece of genius in the past. But, with only a few issues left of his run on this series, this issue has me worried that he’s just killing time.
On the other hand, the artwork this issue from Ryan Stegman is wonderful. It’s dark, gritty, and a wonderful match for the slightly depressing tale that Hickman is telling. Stegman’s pencils in the scene where we first see Galactus’ giant decomposed body makes me wish he’d do more of the titles I’m reading.
FANTASTIC FOUR #609
Story by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Ryan Stegman
Cover by Ryan Stegman & Paul Mounts