After their multiverse-spanning return, Fantastic Four #4 sees the team take a bit of a breather. This latest issue is much lighter fare, but that’s certainly not a complaint.
Ben, Johnny, and the Richards clan make their return to Earth, only to find they’ve been upstaged by knockoffs. What ensues is less of a cosmic adventure and more a comedy of errors as the heroes trip over one another to save the day. The result is a pretty endearing little story.
Dan Slott’s run thus far has been marked by a tendency to rely more on sentiment than on heavier emotion. Here, the Richards family has been away from Earth for, in their timeline, roughly five years at this point. Despite that, they seem pretty nonchalant about their return. More than anything, they seem bemused by the superhero showdown they’re dropped into.
That said, the series has a definite sense of charm. I’ve especially enjoyed seeing Reed and Valeria work alongside one another as a veritable two-person brain trust and the lighthearted tone of the series are two of its strongest suits thus far. Both characteristics shine through on Fantastic Four #4.
As mentioned before, the series kicked off with a pretty epic introduction. I always find that dedicating an issue or two to a smaller story after a big, cosmic adventure is a good move. It gives readers some breathing room, while also taking a moment to explore the more human aspects of the characters. Fantastic Four #4 develops a couple of critical plot points, while also bringing the team back to basics.
While I enjoyed Sara Pichelli’s work on the first three issues, artists Stefano Caselli and Nico Leon offer solid work for Fantastic Four #4. The art has a slightly-cartoonish feel, with more rounded and less-detailed character designs. I miss the more intricate and illustrated look of the first three issues. However, the style here gels with the tone of the writing, so it’s easy to forgive.
Regarding layout, they do a pretty good job of capturing each beat within a distinct panel. That said, the extensively-overlaid panels can make the pages feel a bit chaotic and distracting.
Speaking of chaos, I’m a bit conflicted on the work from colorist Erick Arciniega here. On the one hand, I appreciate the level of detail throughout, with meticulous attention to backgrounds. However, there is such a wide range in contrasting colors on every page that it can be hard to focus on any one element.
Fantastic Four #4 is a nice breather after the last few action-packed issues. I have minor gripes, but it’s a good chapter overall, allowing us a bit of downtime with the newly-reunited family.