It's been a long while since a volume of FANTASTIC FOUR has really captivated me. Writer James Robinson and artist Leonard Kirk are doing something pretty straight forward with this book and telling a new story that has a strong connection to actual history of this team. The vast majority of this issue involves the Fantastic Four, in court, answering for their supposed crimes, and strangely enough, it couldn't be more interesting. There's no fights, explosions, and very little yelling. It's just well-known characters engaging in a very realistic feeling sequence of dialogue, even though what they're actually talking about it incredibly out there.
What I love about this series and especially this issue is that it embraces the past, no matter how silly it seems now. The prosecutor, Mr. Toliver, goes over key moments in the past of the Fantastic Four, like Ben Grimm and the Hulk battling it out, but it even covers some more "out there" moments, like when Hate Monger took over Sue Storm's body and she became Malice, which is pretty much Sue Storm with a leather fetish. Robinson's run on this book is just as much about FF's past as it is about their present.
Each time the story jumps back to a moment from FF's past, a different artist interprets the scene. This was easily the coolest part of the book. It was really cool to see Jerry Ordway take over the Malice scene, in which the style completely matched the era it took place in, or Dean Haspiel take over the Hulk and Thing fight. In addition, you get to see Mike & Laura Allred and Chris Samnee & Matthew Wilson as well as some other great art teams capture moments from the FF's past.
The issue really ends on an interesting note. We learn what's been going on with Valeria, as well as the kids of the Future Foundation, and the final page is quite the interesting one and will lead into something really cool in the upcoming issues. Yes, that's vague, but I simply don't want to spoil it.
There's really only one problem I have with this entire issue and that the page set-ups can be confusing. There's a few two-pagers made up of numerous panels, and normally, you'd read the top row of panels, on the page, then jump down to the bottom row. Here, you have to read the top row of panels, on both pages, then jump down to the bottom. In most cases like this, an image or word bubble will spread across both pages. Not here, though, which will cause a bit of confusion.
This run on FANTASTIC FOUR has been a ton of fun so far. There's really something special about this book because it really embraces the Fantastic Four's history at Marvel, no matter how weird or out there. And while this book spends a lot of time in the court room, it's still fantastic writing that makes you want more. Will regular Fantastic Four fans enjoy this? No clue, but as a person who's never really liked the team, I'm really enjoying this book. Overall, I highly recommend this issue.