Welcome back to the Marvel Rundown! This week, we dive into the crime-ridden world of… Alicia Grimm? It’s a noir night out in our SPOILER-LITE review of Fantastic Four #19! Plus, jump on down to the Rapid Rundown for quick takes on Invincible Iron Man #17 and Ultimate X-Men #2!

What did you think of this week’s batch of fresh Marvel Comics, True Believers? The Beat wants to hear from you! Give us a shout-out, here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat, and let us know what you’re thinking.

Fantastic Four #19

Fantastic Four #19

Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Of the praise for Ryan North’s current Fantastic Four run, his commitment to writing single issues stories that could be someone’s first is commendable. Getting a series, much like his Unbeatable Squirrel Girl run, geared toward individual stories that draw in new readers rather confuse them seems like a gift.

North’s run so far mixes the family on adventures nature of the Jack Kirby and Stan Lee run with the genre bending of a show like The Twilight Zone. This approach doesn’t really reinvent what a FF story is. It just returns the series to its mid century genre roots where genre hadn’t quite solidified. So an issue where Alicia Masters plays a PI in a 1940s noir world doesn’t feel out of place. North still finds a way to eventually make the connect the story to science fiction and superhero weirdness.

North has fun playing with the detective genre and the idea of the blind Alicia Masters as a private investigator. He thinks up ways to slot in various Fantastic Four characters into the story. This is a fun story even if the explanation for what’s really going comes across as a gag than a satisfying conclusion.

One of the shortcoming’s on North’s FF run so far has been is the art though. Few of his artistic collaborators are as adventurous as his writing has been. Carlos Gomez is a capable artist but seems a little out of his depth here. He gets the period details right and does a solid job dressing the characters for the era. His storytelling only fits on that surface level though.

For a noir 1940s set noir it’s a surprisingly bright issue. Outside of backgrounds, there’s not a whole lot of shadows in this issue and relies on dutch angles for drama instead. The line art leans color artist Jesus Aburtov’s soft grey tones instead of mimicking look of the black and white cinematography in films of the era. Arburtov does use spot color throughout the issue which adds to the art a little.

Ryan North continues having fun thinking up different situations for the FF to get into. Setting the cast into a noir story is a fun premise while also making it accessible for a random reader. While the art doesn’t quite get into the noir mood, this book is still a STRONG BROWSE this week.

Rapid Rundown!

  • Invincible Iron Man #17
    • At times the Fall of the House of X storyline can seem like a drawn-out money grab as the X-Men and their allies fight to keep humanity from being completely wiped out, but this issue makes it worthwhile. Writer Gerry Duggan puts Iron Man through the wringer, hurt badly after battling Feilong and his army of Stark Sentinels, he is suffering from a concussion, not his first. Guest Artist Patch Zircher gives us some great moments in Tony’s journey of trauma as he stumbles around in the ruins of his Sentinel Buster armor hallucinating dead parents and old enemies. And after a look at the dark vista that is Tony’s life, we get a surprise guest at the end. As for Tony’s future past this arc, Marvel Higher-ups please hear me when I ask that Tony and Emma stay together after this. Their relationship is the biggest surprise to come out of this arc, their shared twisted love is a thing of beauty #TeamEmny. —GC3
  • Ultimate X-Men #2
    • Another beautiful issue, another mysterious death. So goes the world of schoolgirl with a JoJo stand, Hisako Ichiki. So goes the Peach Momoko side of the Ultimateverse. Not much happens in the 21 pages allotted to writer/artist extraordinaire, Peach Momoko, but the monotony does seem to be a point. With no driving force of her own, Hisako is drawn to events or rather they are forced upon her. Without agency beyond wondering why she’s doing this and frustrated screaming from one task to the next, Momoko’s characterization of Hisako leaves her massively vulnerable yet guarded. This is the point given her armor ability, but two issues in, we’ve really only see it protect her at her most critical moments, which leaves issues feeling all together too little and too fast with little space to do more given the price tag [$4.99 USD!] and publishing schedule. Until now we’ve grown accustomed to a trimonthly wait between Peach Momoko installments of the Marvel continuity, so we are now in a transitional era where Momoko is finding what works/doesn’t work in a monthly paced series. I know uniformity helps keep the Ultimate X-Men in-line with the Ultimate universe and away from the Peach Momoko Marvelverse that so many of her works fall into, but I feel the lettering by VC’s Travis Lanham is more slapped on than incorporated into the art. An oddly sterile style when VC’s Ariana Maher lead with a great example of how to incorporate digital lettering into Momoko’s watercolor pages. Maher used a font that fluctuated its line weight and a similar line weight fluctuation to the balloons’ outer stroke– this helps create the semblance of human error present in watercolor inks that bleed into the paper as they dry. I’d love to see that approach going forward as much as I’d love to see this book delve deeper into Hisako’s character rather than drip-feed us scraps. Monthly is no longer a market for tradewaiting books, I’m afraid. — Beau Q.

Next Week: Roxxon Presents: Thor #1!