For a start, there’s only two of them left.
Scientist Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic) and his wife Susan Storm (aka The Invisible Woman) are missing and presumed dead, along with their children. Pilot Ben Grimm (aka The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing), newly returned from an extended adventure in space, is filling his free time with charity work. And Johnny Storm (aka The Human Torch) is living life as he always did – dangerously close to the edge.
When Johnny’s behavior turns reckless even by his high standards for living fast and furious, a worried Spider-Man approaches Ben Grimm about trying to talk some sense into their friend. Reluctantly, Ben agrees to do so, remembering a promise he made to Susan to look after her brother if anything should happen to her.
Before he gets a chance to seek Johnny out, however, Ben is approached by Doctor Doom. Newly reformed (or so he claims) Doom has come not to quarrel but to offer The Thing a bequest – a piece of technology Doom recovered in the wake of Reed Richards’ apparent death which he believes only Ben Grimm can open. Though The Thing doesn’t trust Doom any further than he could throw him, he accepts the gift… and discovers one more reason he needs to seek out Johnny Storm immediately!
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The original Marvel Two-In-One series was one of the odder works to come out of Marvel Comics in the 1970s. Nominally Marvel’s answer to DC Comics’ The Brave And The Bold, the series teamed Ben Grimm with a different superhero every month in the same way that The Brave and The Bold showed different characters joining forces with Batman.
Though nominally teaming The Thing and The Human torch up, this first chapter of Fate Of The Four doesn’t bring the former teammates together until the final few pages. This issue is primarily concerned with setting up the two heroes working together again, though we do get a brief team-up between Spider-Man and the Thing against another villain. There’s also a nice but brief battle between The Thing and Doctor Doom.
It remains to be seen if this revival series will match the original in weird stories and wry humor. With Howard The Duck writer Chip Zdarsky writing, it’s a safe bet that it will. Even this issue, which largely comes off as a more traditional Fantastic Four style story, features a few out-there comedic moments, such as Ben’s conversation about collecting cigarettes with a random woman at a dull ritzy party. And you can’t fault any comic which gives us Spider-Man wearing a tuxedo jacket over his costume.
Artist Jim Cheung does a fantastic job on the artwork for this issue. Boasting an aesthetic that evokes comparison to John Romita Jr. in terms of detailed pencil-work and general appearance, Cheung is also a fantastic choreographer. The rest of the art team prove equally skilled, with two different inkers providing the finishes, though you’d never know it from looking. The colors by Frank Martin look great, as well.
Those Marvel fans who have been missing The Fantastic Four would do well to pick up this issue. So would any comic reader who enjoys good comedy. It remains to be seen what the final fate of The Four will be in the wake of this story but if this issue is any indication Marvel Two-In-One will remain fantastic regardless.
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.