This long-overdue review of the end of the Waid / Wieringo run and the pre-JMS fill-in issues is finally here. You can probably expect more comic reviews coming with the traveling that I’ll do with the new job; comics are much more portable and suitcase-friendly than my 108″ screen and sound system. I’ll try to review the first batch of the JMS run (up to Civil War) shortly, so that the reviews will be up to date when his run ends in a few short months.
Title: Fantastic Four 520-526
Author: Mark Waid (520-524), Karl Kesel (525, 526)
Pencils: Mike Wieringo (520-524), Tom Grummett (525, 526)
Inks: Karl Kesel (520-524), Larry Stucker (525, 526), Norm Rapmund (526)
Colors: Paul Mounts
Original Publication Date: Cover dated January – June 2005
ISBN: 0785115986 for the collection of issues 520-523. Issue 524 has only been collected in hardcover, along with “Disassembled” and “Rising Storm.” Issues 525-526 have not beel collected.
Cover Price: $13.99 US for the paperback collection, $29.99 US for the hardcover, and $2.99 US or $4.25 Canadian for the issues
Buy from: Amazon.com
Past comic reviews can be found here.
For “Rising Storm,” issues 520-523, the Fantastic Four have just finished dealing with the arrival of an alien trying to find and destroy Sue Storm, only to have Johnny (whose powers were switched with Sue’s to hide her from the aforementioned alien) stolen by Galactus. Issue 524 is the “Tag” to the Waid and Wieringo run. Issues 525 and 526 were a fill-in pair of issues featuring the return of Diablo. (J. Michael Straczynski took over as writer with issue 527.)
Issue 524 was the perfect way to wrap up Waid’s run.
The Diablo fill-in. It’s hampered by the very nature of the fill-in, true, but I have problems with Diablo. Why doesn’t he just turn the FF into gold and be done with it?
Waid covered new and original ground with practically every issue. This time, he not only sheds new light on Galactus, but he alliviates some of the guilt Reed privately admitted to back in the first issue of his run. Kesel, on the other hand, does what a fill-in writer is supposed to do: come up with something that belongs in the title, but which doesn’t leave any hanging threads that the next writer would have to pick up and carry along. He wasn’t original, but he didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. I give the set 4 out of 6.
The artwork by Wieringo and company is a perfect fit for the way Waid wrote the title. Grummett’s group wasn’t as outstanding, but they weren’t bad. They had a tough act to follow. I give the set 5 out of 6.
The story starts out very well. Waid and Wieringo maintain their momentum through to the end, following a grand cosmic adventure with a far more personal story. The fill-in was a fill-in, with little that was notable until after the villain was defeated. The complete package score is a 5 out of 6.
The characterization was strong throughout the Waid / Wieringo run. The brief shining moment of Kesel’s fill-in was also a moment of strong characterization. I give it 5 out of 6.
The emotional response was strong through the Waid / Wieringo issues, with some great fun and a nice dovetail to the set, playing off the 9 cent issue they started with. Kesel’s was merely okay. I give it 4 out of 6.
The flow in the first few issues is very smooth, leading from one story arc directly into the next. Kesel’s works within the story, and even makes good reference to the Waid run (which isn’t surprising, given Kesel’s inking duties there), but it suffers from the flow problems that all fill-ins face. I give it 4 out of 6.
Overall, it’s still a strong set, with the Waid / Wieringo issues dominating. They’ll read well in collections, as the fill-in issues won’t be present. I give it 5 out of 6.
In total, Fantastic Four #520-526 receive 32 out of 42.