Comic Review – “Fantastic Four Vol. 2: Unthinkable”

Doom is scary again. Thank you, Mark Waid.

General Information

Title: Fantastic Four Vol. 2: Unthinkable

Author: Mark Waid

Illustrator(s): Mike Weiringo and Casey Jones

Original Publication Date: 2003, in graphic novel and
comic form

ISBN: 0-7851-1111-5

Cover Price: $17.99 US, $29.00 Can

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From the credits page: “Victor Von Doom is the ruler of
Latveria, a
small but powerful Balkan nation. For years, Doom has
brought his
scientific and technological genius to bear against the
Fantastic Four
in a continual bid for world domination…”

“…but a
priorities can change.”

In the extra material included in Imaginauts,
Mark Waid
said that, if you bring Doom back, he’d better be doing
new. He brought Doom back, and Doom is doing
something very, very
new. Not only does Doom seem scary, he seems like a
match for Reed.

This collects issues 67-70 of volume 3, as well as issues
500-502 of
volume one. Those are actually consecutive issues, as
Marvel chose to
move back to the original numbering with issue 500 (as
they’ll do with
Amazing Spider-Man this November.) It also contains the
material from the special edition of issue 500, including
scenes, character sketches, a gallery of the first 500 FF
Bullpen Bits, and Stan Lee’s original concept for the team.

High Point

Wow, did Waid provide a lot of choices. The end of any
given issue,
for example. The magic words. Doom’s new armour.
Val’s first word.
The snap of Doom’s fingers. The space-time… thing. The
conversation between Reed and Sue near the
ternary-speaking aliens.

In the end, I have to go with the fact that Doom is a threat.
A real,
actual threat.

Low Point

Casey Jones’ art. It’s only in the aftermath issues (501
and 502),
but it’s not well suited to the story.

The Scores

Issues 497 through 502 of this comic are collected here.
That’s a
lot of continuity to cover if you’re going to do
that hasn’t been done before. Using the most famous and
perhaps most
frequently recurring villain for the team seems like it’s just
for a rehash of some old story. That didn’t happen. Val
and Franklin
are important to this story, for one thing. It’s so hard to
come up
with something new to this title, let alone the rest of
comicdom, and
Mark Waid managed it. I give it 6 out of 6.

The artwork by Mike Weiringo was very good,
including some
adaptations in style from the first collection to match the
storyline. The work by Casey Jones just didn’t fit at all. I
give it
4 out 6.

The story was compelling and fast-paced, with
some great
twists and turns from the first issue forward. This will have
impact on the title, and on anything else that uses Doom
from now on.
I give it 6 out of 6.

The characterization was excellent. Reed is
more than a
great, big brain. He’s even allowed to be an idiot. Waid’s
grasp of
the character is fantastic. Reed has depth and
dimensions, along with
the arrogance that generally comes from the kind of
intellectual success he’s had over the years. Doom’s
character is
similarly well defined, even though it was being redefined
this time
around. The rest of the team had nice character
moments, but they
didn’t really shine until the aftermath. Since Doom has
always been a
rival to Reed who attacks the rest by association rather
than actual
adversarial tendencies, this works out well. When Sue,
Johnny, Ben,
and Franklin get their chance, they come on strong and
clear. I give
it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was excellent. I
started out feeling
sympathetic to Doom, which made the end of the first
issue that much
more potent. I was hooked and dragged through the rest
of the
collection in exactly the manner Waid and Weiringo
intended. The art
in the last two issues was too mismatched to the story to
have the
impact it should have had. I give it 5 out of 6.

The flow was excellent. Casey Jones’ panels
aren’t a great
fit to the plot, but his storytelling instincts are as flawless as
Weiringo’s. This is a creative team that knows how to put
a story
together. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a fantastic story arc. Much like
Imaginauts, I recommend it without
reservation. Even if you
haven’t liked the Fantastic Four in the past, this deserves a
look. I
give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Fantastic Four Vol. 2: Unthinkable
receives 39 out
of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

The next story arc has art by Howard Porter. I’ll review the
arc when issue 508 hits in December. For the moment,
know that it’s
the same writer, and the art I’ve flipped through looks