Overview

Ultimate Fantastic Four #15

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Ultimate Fantastic Four #15

Credits

  • Words: Warren Ellis
  • Art: Adam Kubert
  • Inks: John Dell
  • Colors: Dave Stewart
  • Story Title: The N-Zone - Part 3 (of 6)
  • Price: $2.25
  • Release Date: Jan 26, 2005

Warren Ellis and Adam Kubert hit another one out of the park with #15, proving that even in the shadow of an iffy-looking flick this summer, there’s still plenty to love about the Fantastic Four.

Marvel’s "Ultimate" imprint is sort of love-it-or-hate-it in the eyes of some comic fans. But let’s just assume you love it, and if you don’t, you might want to be reading Ultimate Fantastic Four, because it could just change your mind.

Restarting Marvel’s longest-running comic book is a pretty gutsy thing to do, and rewriting the origin of some of its most recognizable characters is a pretty tall order. Fortunately, Marvel has had some big guns on hand since the title’s launch. Bendis and Millar jointly handled the opening arc and have since handed off the scribe duties to Ellis. Ellis, teamed with the totally awesome Kubert on pencils, is doing an amazing job.

After a very young Reed Richards’ experiment with alternate universe physics transformed him and his three colleagues into the super-powered and very public team of heroes, they’ve already had to contend with the Ultimate versions of Mole Man and Dr. Doom. Now, in an effort to learn more about the mysterious "N-Zone" that gave them their powers, Reed has taken the foursome on a modified space shuttle into the N-Zone on a fact-finding mission.

This is standard FF fare of the wild and astounding adventure variety, but what really makes it sing has to do with some very well-crafted wordplay married perfectly to some beautiful artwork. I should say that it is my usual custom to talk about members of the creative team individually, but Ellis and Kubert are such a great pair that they deserve to be talked about as a team. These pictures go so perfectly with these words that it’s impossible not to get sucked into the experience of reading the comic.

Humor is one of the more challenging aspects of pulling off a good FF story, also. Too much and it’s a silly sitcom; too little, and it comes off as pulp. They’ve got it down to a science, though. As Reed and Sue banter back and forth about physics, Ben floats by in zero-G, observing, "being with the two of you is like going to hell and finding out it’s school 24 hours a day." The expressions on their faces as they offhandedly wisecrack with each other are just priceless, too. For characters we’ve technically only met fourteen issues ago, it’s amazing how easy it is to like the new Fantastic Four and feel like you’ve been hanging out with them for years.

The "N-Zone" arc has had some really fluid storytelling to it, as well. Last issue had a terrific cinematic-style comedic reveal when Johnny finally badgered Reed into letting him name the test vehicle… the Awesome. In this issue, however, there is a really odd sort of hiccup beginning on page six. Ben has gone for a spacewalk, and for two pages we cut between Ben flying tethered in space and Reed and Sue watching out the Awesome’s window with Ben reflected on the glass. Maybe it’s the layout or the way the colors are rendered, but those two pages are oddly confusing to read and comprehend just what’s going on. And then, in a really jarring transition, Ben’s suddenly back on the inside on page eight and a fair amount of time has passed. In an otherwise perfectly-paced sequence, these pages are a little awkward.

Dave Stewart’s colors live up to the usual Ultimate standards, though this issue is a little on the red side. We are in the N-Zone, point taken, and the N-Zone is very red. But the red bleeds into the cockpit and lights everything inside with a red glow, which makes it a little hard on the eyes, especially when you’re doing what I do, which is going back a few more times to read some of your favorite parts again.

Ultimate Fantastic Four has become a totally charming comic. If you’ve had your eye on this in the shop, take a chance. The art is top-notch, the writing is superb and a team like this handling the characters is evidence enough for why Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben should look forward to a long "Ultimate" run like the original that inspired it.

-Jesse Vigil

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