What a tome this book is! Clocking in at 100 pages, ‘Fantastic Four’ #600 is truly a massive read for a comic that isn’t a graphic novel or trade paperback. Sure. I used to read DC’s 100-page Specials back in the day but they always seemed to be quick reads with mostly filler. Not so here! This book is pure story! ‘Fantastic Four’ #600 is a return to the original numbering of the adventures of Marvel’s First Family that had become the Future Foundation in the wake of Johnny Storm’s death. The story picks up where ‘FF’ #11 left off. Ronan the Accuser is bent on destroying the earth along with the resurrected Supremor, Annihilus is planning his escape from the Negative Zone, and Dr. Doom is still in the hands of the alternate universe Reed Richards.
The Future Foundation has assembled an army containing most of the Avengers to try and stop Ronan’s destruction of Earth. Their first goal is to get the invaders out of New York City where the main attack is underway. From that opening scene, this issue’s tale jumps all over the known universe: from NYC, to Castle Doom, to the Inhuman’s home of Attilan, to the Negative Zone… it’s a sprawling story that returns Marvel’s “Greatest Comic Magazine” to true epic form. And when the main story comes to a close with an ominous warning from Galactus, fans know that the Fanastic Four is in for some trouble as their return gets underway in earnest. For fans of the Fantastic Four, this is a wonderful issue made even better if you’ve been reading the events in ‘FF’ that lead up to this story. If you’re not a fan of the Fantastic Four, I’d suggest skipping it since it carries a hefty price ($8) to go along with it’s equally hefty 100 pages.
Honestly, that’s all I can say without giving away some major spoilers so read no further if you don’t want it ruined for you. So…
[Warning: Fantastic spoilers below!]
With Ronan’s invasion of Earth holding the attention of most of Earth’s heroes, there are several key things going on behind the scenes. First and foremost is that along with Annihilus’ attempted escape from the Negative Zone, we also get the return of Johnny Storm. Sure. This might not be a huge spoiler for readers that have been following ‘FF’ and the teasers that Marvel released leading up to this landmark issue but the way it’s presented is a bit of a doozy!
When we last saw Johnny in ‘Fantastic Four’ #587, he was left behind battling demon hordes within the Negative Zone and presumed dead. Now, as an aside within this issue, we’re treated to the tale of “Whatever Happened to Johnny Storm?” which details what happened after he was left stranded against impossible odds in the harsh realm of the Negative Zone. We find that Johnny did indeed die but he was resurrected, died again, and resurrected a few more times as he was used for sport in the Negative Zone’s arenas. Making a loose friendship with his fellow gladiators, a group called The Light Brigade, Johnny formulates a plan to escape. So, when the Annihilus’ demons open a gate way from Earth to the Negative Zone, they discover that it’s not who they expect when the portal opens.
Meanwhile in the Baxter Building, the youngsters of the Future Foundation, including the Reed’s kids, flee from the Negative Zone demons by teleporting several floors of the entire building to the moon. When the story finally wraps and the rest of the FF head to the moon to rescue the children, they’re confronted by Galactus and his ominous warning. Galactus says that the world is about to be broken and, in no uncertain terms, blames Franklin Richards (Reed and Sue’s son) for the coming doom.
[End of spoilers]
Jonathan Hickman in his run on ‘FF’ has woven a story with so many players that I’d go so far as to call it one of the most epic stories I’ve read from Marvel in a long while… and that includes some of the Avengers and Civil War tales. Now that this story has come to a proper head, it’ll be interesting to see where Hickman takes these characters as what was ‘FF’ will now be split into two series with next month’s ‘FF’ #12 and ‘Fantastic Four’ #601 with Hickman continuing writing duties on both titles.
As a fan of the Fantastic Four, I have to give this one a hearty “buy” recommendation, but with the provision that, if you’re not a fan, maybe it would be best to wait for the trade collection so that you can read the entire story. Otherwise, this issue won’t make much sense.
FANTASTIC FOUR #600
Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN
Art by STEVE EPTING, CARMINE DI GIANDOMENICO, LEINIL YU, and FAREL DALRYMPLE
Cover by GABRIELE DELL’OTTO