Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1: A New Story From a "Classic Era"

Fantastic Four: Antithesis is an oddity as a Marvel comic published in 2020 that is meant to feel like it is, per the inside front cover, "from a classic era." Writer Mark Waid, one of the indisputable giants of the superhero genre, is joined by artist Neal Adams, the living legend who said earlier this year that he "always had the sense of missing the chance to draw the Fantastic Four." Now, along with inker Mark Farmer, colorist Laura Martin, and letterer VC's Joe Caramagna, Waid and Adams get that chance with Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1.

Mark Waid and Neal Adams team up on Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1. Credit: Marvel
Mark Waid and Neal Adams team up on Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1. Credit: Marvel

Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1 starts with the Fantastic Four battling Annihilus, cuts to some familiar relationship issues between the distracted (read as workaholic) Reed and the lonely (read as thirsty) Sue, before sending their lives spiraling when Silver Surfer comes crashing to the ground. The story is a decent, familiar read, but both younger and older reads may find themselves annoyed by dialogue choices. An issue that a lot of writers have when writing dialogue for the Thing, classic and modern included, is the use of phrases like "howcum" (eeeeh), which is obviously a direct homonym for "how come." That overuse of Ben Grimm's dialogue quirk is common in many Fantastic Four runs, and it has precedent, so no points off for that… as it isn't nearly as much of a problem as the Human Torch's dialogue. The way he's written by Waid is the embodiment of the "How do you do, fellow kids?" meme. In one of his first lines, he speaks in a hashtag. The very next time he speaks, he says, "Oh, that's gonna be a meme." It might, but not because of the way that was meant on the page. It would've been a better choice for Waid to double down on the "a new story from a classic era" tone rather than try to ride the line of classic and modern because his writing lends itself far better to the former.

Neal Adams is an icon, and everyone knows it. Readers of vintage comics will love Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1 without reservation, while modern readers will likely find the twisted, screaming visages of the characters during normal conversations confusing. It's a matter of eras and, with the recent years trending toward more realistic and grounded "acting" from in the way comics characters are drawn, Adams' art lives firmly in his own era: and that's exactly what folks who bought this comic for his name will want. The only actual problem with the art is that there's a sequence of panels that shows the descending, helpless, burning Silver Surfer heading right for a city, which will be destroyed if he lands. The panel before it showed the Fantastic Four deflect it with a forcefield, but Adam's next page shows it about to hit the city still… and then, in the next panel, it hits an open field. One can assume that the panel following the forcefield was meant to show the fireball that is the Silver Surfer going away from the city, but it does not visually work.

There's may be very little here for anyone outside of Adams' dedicated fans to enjoy. Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1 is an inoffensive, mediocre story that has been designed to appeal directly to Neal Adams fans, and it does that well.

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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