Fantastic Four #540


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Fantastic Four #540


  • Words: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Art: Mike McKone
  • Inks: Andy Lanning & Cam Smith
  • Colors: Paul Mounts
  • Story Title: Some Words Can Never Be Taken Back
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Oct 4, 2006

The members of the Fantastic Four are losing more than any other heroes involved in the Civil War. They are losing their family.

Sue and Reed’s differences of opinion are explored in this surprisingly dramatic and downbeat chapter of the Civil War tie-in. Ominous quotes from a Tom Lehrer song begin and end issue #540. Between the music, Reed’s stoic determination to believe what he is doing is right, to rationalize his actions like a scientist who creates an experiment that will give him the answer he wants, is revealed. Also, Sue’s alternate view and the butting of heads is as real as a serious fight between your parents. You know the kind—where the "D" word pops up at least once, if not from their lips, in your mind. We also discover that mysteries can come in some of the most innocuous forms . . . .

J. Michael Straczynski’s ability to make larger-than-life characters that have been around for half a century consistently engrossing makes me proud to read comics. The Fantastic Four have had a slew of fantastic creators, but they have never appeared so real before. With something as significant as Civil War going on, and the clear division in the team, Straczynski has to make it real. If he doesn’t, then the book becomes everything comic books fear becoming—campy, childish, and stupid. When Reed and Sue fight, the anger is sincere and the division is a natural, inevitable consequence of each one’s behavior. And because of Ben’s actions of late, his decision to follow in the footsteps of several great expatriates makes sense. These reactions are symbolic, historic, and powerful, which should be expected since those three adjectives also describe Straczynski’s scripts.

Mike McKone’s smooth pencils work wonders with Straczynski’s scripts as well. The sometimes thin, sometimes heavy line work and curved, elegant shaping fits the story like a warm, comforting hat. McKone works to make the scenes real and cinematic. It is as though he is telling us with his images that this is indeed a significant story. However, the inkers are just as powerful here. Andy Lanning and Cam Smith are a pair of professionals who convert McKone’s graceful pencils to nicely inked images seamlessly. It is a rare and pleasing feat to be privy too. Lastly, the colorist, Paul Mounts, makes the images pop like a summer movie—bright and powerful.

The Fantastic Four are going through a rough spot. How will it all pan out? We can hope we know . . . the good guys always win, right? In the meantime, however, I can’t wait to see what Straczynski and McKone do next. Something with the kids, I hope. I wonder how the little Richards are doing right now . . . .

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