Comic Book Review – Fantastic Five #1 (Oct 1999)

Fantastic Five #1

Written by Tom DeFalco

Art by Paul Ryan

Human Torch flies above the New York City skyline and uses his flame powers to create a 5 to call his fellow team members to action. The team consists of: his wife Lyja Storm, the new Ms. Fantastic, his nephew Franklin Richards aka Psilord, the ever lovin’ blue eyed Thing, and Big Brain, a H.E.R.B.I.E. robot that houses the brain of Reed Richards!

The team reviews surveillance video at their headquarters of a cloud formation over Pleasantville, Ohio that transforms into a giant, gaseous monster that attacks the town. The gas released by the monster renders the townspeople unconscious and a group of looters ransack the tiny hamlet. The cloud formation is headed to Springfield, Pennsylvania and the Fantastic Five decide to investigate.

The team arrives in time to take on Mr. Kangshaw and his circle of criminals. A short, balding, nerdy man looks on as the Five make easy work of the bad guys. The man activates a device which brings the gas monster to life. It can alter its density at will making it as hard as diamond or as incorporeal as a ghost. Big Brain attacks the monster but is knocked offline. The rest of the team is defeated by the monster with its knockout gas.

The Five wake up in the nerdy man’s secret lair. The unnamed man was a brilliant scientist who studied atmospheric pollutants and was at the top of his field but had an unsatisfactory personal life. He was rejected by a blonde bombshell because he was not rich. He turned to a life of crime and is now dating a supermodel!

As he finishes his story, Big Brain overloads himself to free the rest of the team. The Thing breaks the scientist’s device and the men are captured. The team laments losing Big Brain during the fight. The issue ends with a new Big Brain robot being constructed by a person with stretchable limbs. Is Mr. Fantastic still alive? TO BE CONTINUED!

Awhile back I did a review of J2 and the MC2. Dubbed “The Millennium’s Greatest Comic Magazine”, Fantastic Five #1 recounts the origin of the Fantastic Four and gives the reader a glimpse of their possible future. A tragedy befalls the Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic, but this issue never explicitly states what happened them. In the wake of this tragedy, John Storm becomes the de facto leader of the Fantastic Five. The smog monster is a nice callback to Fantastic Four #1 and their battle with the Mole Man and his subterranean creatures. The mystery of Susan’s death and Mr. Fantastic’s possible resurrection are both intriguing enough to warrant picking up Issue 2 (if I can find it on the cheap online). Family is forever with the Fantastic Five.