The FF continue their journey throughout time and space, and in this instance, it’s time, as they travel back to 1776 and meet the American Founding Fathers.
But this issue was about more than just the cool concept of superheroes meeting Thomas Jefferson and there being a Skrull Ben Franklin, no, this issue brought a lot of what Matt Fraction has been building to a head, as the truth about the mysterious sickness affecting the team comes out. This was a great scene, especially Johnny Storm’s reaction. He was being treated like a kid and being made to sit with them and not finding out. This was strong character stuff for Johnny, who is often written like he’s still a dumb teenager. I liked that he called back to his ‘death’ in Hickman’s run. I also liked how these revelations effected Val, who is seriously pissed off. I like it when the Fantastic Four are a happy family, but it’s also great when there’s a bit of discord.
The 1776 stuff was a lot of fun, it’s always cool to see real-life historical figures show up in comics, and I really liked how Fraction didn’t shy away from showing how complicated Thomas Jefferson was as a person. He didn’t white-wash the hypocrisy. Reed’s speech about how people want pure heroes but the real-world doesn’t work out like that was very well-done, and very telling about how important shades of grey characters are. I know a lot of people think Reed Richards is a dick, but, like Jefferson, there’s more to it.
I of course loved seeing The Skrulls again, they are classic FF villains and have really been left off the table ever since Secret Invasion, so it was great to see them again, especially since it looks like they are the major villains of this storyline. One thing I’m noticing in this run is the importance of the name ‘Franklin’. Benjamin Franklin was being impersonated by a Skrull in this issue, and the FF’s original plan was to visit Dr. Rosalind Franklin, and of course, Reed and Sue’s son is called Franklin. What does it all mean?
Mark Bagley’s artwork was his usual consistent excellence, I particularly liked the way he drew Sue’s malfunctioning powers, very creepy. This was probably the best issue of Fraction’s run so far, it tied everything together and set up some very exciting new character developments. Plus, Skrull Ben Franklin, you have to love it.