‘Ultimate Fantastic Four Volume 6 - Frightful’ – Mark Millar, Greg Land (Marvel)
Today’s post is going to be a short one I think. There’s loads to do today (got Hope’s school application in though!) and I’ve got a headache brewing that is literally laughing in the face of the ibuprofen that I took early. I really wanted to say something about this book though, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I picked it up but it ended up being a really good read.
I was never that into the Fantastic Four until Hope got into a couple of the DVDs that I had on the shelf. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anything is better than ‘Peppa Pig’ and the Fantastic Four cartoons have a real ‘dysfunctional family’ vibe that makes me laugh first thing on a Saturday morning (a time when you really need to be able to laugh if you’re not asleep).
As with ‘Spiderman’, I brought a couple of ‘Fantastic Four’ comic books that Hope was very polite about but made clear that she wasn’t interested in reading. Having read ‘Frightful’ that reaction was probably for the best, I don’t think Hope is quite ready for zombified superheroes eating people. But onto the book and some blatantly copy and pasted blurb,
A guilt-ridden Reed Richards attempts to undo his greatest failure by using time travel to fix the snag that caused the teleportation accident that resulted in Ben Grimm's becoming the Thing. If it works, Ben will be Ben and the Thing will never have existed. And neither will the FF. Be careful what you wish for! Plus: the awesome return of Dr. Doom! The zombiefied FF escape from their Baxter Building prison! The deadly debut of the Frightful Four! Johnny Storm finds out he has only 28 days to live!
But onto the book, ‘Frightful’ collects ‘Ultimate Fantastic Four’ #27-32 and that kind of makes me glad that I didn’t collect the single issues. This volume is very slim which makes me wonder how they got away selling the single issues (which must have been very, very slim indeed). But I’m digressing again, it’s one of those days…
‘Frightful’ is indeed a very slim collection but having read it, that brevity seems to confirm that Mark Millar doesn’t actually need to use a lot of words to tell his story here; both of the stories collected here are punchy affairs that get up in your face real quick and then proceed to give you a battering. The time travel story is confusing initially (for someone like me, coming in ‘mid series’) but give it a few pages and not only does it make sense but it throws up a lot of surprises that throw a fresh spin on the Marvel Universe that we all know and love. Without giving anything away, there is a real lesson to be learned here for Ben Grimm and the final newspaper headline makes for sobering reading.
The zombie storyline… I’ll admit that’s what I came for (it only took one look at the cover for me to be sold, having read some ‘Marvel Zombies’ stuff) and the resulting plot is dark on any number of levels with Greg Land really letting everything loose on some gory panels. It’s not just the gore though, Millar and Land really capture that feeling of being stuck in a building with marauding zombies, it’s just that these zombies have superpowers as well… If I had to pick a favourite story from this collection this would be it. It’s a tale that has everything, up to and including a little bit of Cthulhu for good measure. And the last words uttered by Doctor Doom are magnificent in their understatement.
I guess it’s always useful to come at these things with a little background knowledge but ‘Frightful’ is stand-alone enough that it really doesn’t matter if you’re new to this universe or not. That made this read even better for me as I was able to sit down and just get straight on with it – always a bonus these days. Anyway, give ‘Frightful’ a go if you get a chance, good storytelling and as scary as hell in places.