Fraction and Allred go all metafictional on our asses with this issue, as both they and Tom Brevoort guest-star in the comic! There’s a long history of this sort of thing happening with the Fantastic Four, going all the way back to Stan and Jack, and it was a lot of fun seeing Fraction poke fun at himself and his colleagues, some of it may have been a little bit too ‘inside baseball’ like jokes about Brevoort’s Formspring, but hey, we got to see Mike Allred show up with a Madman shirt on and say ‘ginchy’, you have to dig it.
The plot here was a lot of fun, as the FF and the FF creative team head down into the microverse as a tour of a new educational scheme Ant-Man has come up with. But of course, there are problems, as Artie and Leech bring along a tiger they stole from the zoo. It’s all very silly, especially with the meta stuff, but it’s fun, and it allows Allred to draw some seriously cool psychedelic backgrounds, which is, of course, ginchy.
As always, there’s a parallel storyline running with the kids, and this one is a lot more serious than most. Old Man Johnny Storm seems to be on to the fact that Alex Power is a spy for Doctor Doom, so Doom tells Alex to kill him, but of course, someone who was in freaking Power Pack has no idea how to kill someone, so he asks the other kids, do they know anyone who’s killed? Ahura has an answer, his Uncle, Maximus The Mad. Before moving onto this stuff, I need to mention how awesome Bentley was on that page where the FF kids were just standing on the rooftops, his movements were hilarious. I love that kid, now that Damian Wayne is dead, he fills the psychotic child hero hole in my heart.
The Maximus scenes here were interesting, not least because while he’s in prison here, over in Hickman’s Avengers books, he’s perfectly free and helping Black Bolt build fucked-up shit. I wonder what the story order is here? Is Maximus in prison because of events in Avengers and Infinity? Or is this the story that shows why he’s free in those books? Hmmm… We all know that the Inhumans are going to play a big role in the Marvel Universe soon, so any scene with them is very intriguing. Plus, I’ve always found Maximus to be an awesome character, you’ve got to love somebody who self-defines as ‘Mad’.
So yeah, once again, this was a really fun instalment of FF, you never know what crazy stuff Fraction and Allred are going to do, and putting themselves into the story is just another great example. This is a series with a unique tone, and it’s great to see it’s not afraid to make fun of itself and it’s creators. If you’re one of those people who don’t like metafictional stuff like this, then you probably won’t have enjoyed this issue, and yeah, it maybe was a bit self-indulgent, but it was FUN, and that’s what the FF is all about, yes, there’s ‘complex family interdynamics’ and ‘capers’ all mixed into together, but most of all, it’s a fun time, with great art.