When last we left Ben Grimm, he was dead. Reed Richards didn’t care for this situation very much, and decided to correct it.
Title: Fantastic Four: Hereafter
Author: Mark Waid
Illustrator(s): Mike Weiringo
Original Publication Date: Issues 509-513 were published in early 2004.
Cover Price: $11.99 US
Buy from: Amazon.com or Amazon.ca
Past comic reviews can be found here.
The first three issues are an epilogue to “Authoritative Action,” and the next two are a prologue for the next story arc. I don’t know why they decided to make a trade paperback out of these five instead of putting the first three in “Authoritative Action” and the next two in the next trade instead. The last two issues are actually two prologues: the main story has Spider-Man and the Human Torch getting into trouble, while the extra story stuck in at the end of the issues has the return of a character from Reed Richards’ past.
The second half of issue 511.
The extra story in issues 512 and 513. It’s nearly meaningless if we don’t recognize that character, and it’s disruptive to have two continued stories in the same title when that title isn’t meant to be a double bill as the old “Tales to Astonish” and the like were.
The originality is all in the first three issues, which are remarkably different from both stories in the last two. I give it 4 out of 6.
The artwork deserves a 5 for Weiringo’s work, but the side story (which wasn’t Ringo) is only a 3. The complete package still gets a 5 out of 6.
The story varies. Issues 509-511, which wrap up “Authoritative Action,” earn 5 out of 6. The Spider-Man story is only a 4 out of 6, for some of the rather forced elements. The side story is only a 3 out of 6. The complete package gets a 4 out of 6.
The characterization is still excellent. I particularly like one moment in 511: they are in the company of an omniscient being, and Sue still directs her questions to Reed. That says so much about how this team functions. I give it 5 out of 6.
The emotional response is fantastic for issue 511, and good for the rest (except that side story.) I give it 5 out of 6.
The flow is very poor. This is all transitional material, and shouldn’t be a package on its own. The first three issues won’t make any sense if you haven’t read “Authoritative Action,” and the last two do nothing but set up the next story arc we’re going to see. The trades should have had issues 509-511 in the “Authoritative Action” set. Then the side story should have been an introductory prologue to the next trade, which would then dive into the rest of issues 512 and 513 as the direct prologue to 514, which features a new Frightful Four. Splitting two continued stories in one book is a mistake that I hope they don’t make in the trade. The trade will already suffer by virtue of being pretty meaningless if you don’t also pick up the preceeding and following volumes. I give it 3 out of 6, only because the flow within a given story still works.
Overall, it only earns a 4 out of 6 on its own, although it would probably read like a 5 out of 6 if you read it in the context of the preceeding and following issues.
In total, Fantastic Four: Hereafter receives 30 out of 42.