Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: R.B. Silva
Color Artist: Jesus Aburtov
Cover Artist: Mark Brooks
The Fantastic Four have been through a lot recently. The Griever of Worlds, Franklin losing his powers, Ben and Alicia adopted a Skrull girl and Kree boy as their kids, Johnny has a “soulmate”, and Knull’s invasion of Earth. Now the team has some time to relax for a while in Fantastic Four #31 and see what they’re going to do next.
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So, Dan Slott kept writing Sue and Alicia saying that the FF are supposed to be explorers, scientists, etc. And now it seems like he’s trying to get them back on course again, and is setting up other things at the same time.
As shown by the cover, Reed and Ben Grimm are going on a personal trip through the Forever Gate to a place no one else has ever been to. And will probably never visit again. Throughout the comic, Slott tries to establish a more hopeful tone with the team members but it’s constantly contrasted with a cynical element dogging them. This includes Reed and Ben’s trip, Bentley & Valeria, Franklin, Johnny & Sue, and Alicia and her alien kids. Ironically, the latter is the only one who comes out more wholesome than the rest.
While Ben and Reed head through the Forever Gate, we see N’kalla or Nicki (the Skrull girl) waking up and meeting with Alicia. Slott finally provides an explanation behind why Nicki admires Alicia so much. It’s not the worst explanation, it fits in the world and continuity of Marvel comics, and is both cute and creepy at the same time.
The comic comes back to Reed and Ben as they discover a bright, kaleidoscope-like universe that excites Reed and bores Ben. But the ever-loving Thing opens his big mouth and trouble appears, but it’s not what they expect. It shifts to Bentley – an adopted clone of FF foe, the Wizard – trying to ask Valeria out but he doesn’t get that far. Especially when she proclaims that thanks to Prince Arboro “breaking her heart”, she’s sworn off boys, shut herself in her room, and is committing everything to science.
Afterward, Bentley uses the Forever Gate to visit Prince Arboro, who’s asking his harem what he could do for them, attacks him and threatens him to stay away from Valeria. Here’s the thing, I don’t know how serious I’m supposed to take all this, and the way it’s written by Slott and drawn by R.B. Silva gives the impression that both Valeria and Bentley are in the wrong here (which works for me, they are). Slott’s been using Prince Arboro to be the “bad boyfriend choice” for Valeria but he’s not really that bad.
However, this has a knockoff effect for Reed and Ben because they needed 2 trips to come back home and Bentley wasted them on his petty revenge trip. Now the 2 heroes were stuck in the, let’s call it the Kaleido Zone, fighting monsters until they get to the heart of why Reed asked him to do this – to bond and get their minds off the dark futures the Griever showed them. Then we get a quick glimpse of Sue trying to talk to Franklin before he flies away in a Fantasticar.
Before Susan can chase after him, Johnny tells Sue not to do that and advices her to let him cool off on his own. For once, Johnny is being the responsible one and says that they should probably look for outside help for Franklin. There’s also a moment where Johnny is possibly referencing a moment in the previous issue where Sue was invisibly spying on Johnny having a private conversation with his “soulmate” Skye. I say possibly, because he doesn’t directly mention it.
After all that, Reed and Ben work through their hangups and figure out a way to get back home from the Kaleido Zone where Sue is waiting for them. The family, without the kids, discuss finding a therapist for Franklin and Ben suggests a character named Trauma, who has an interesting power he uses as a therapist. Reed and Sue take Franklin to see him and the comic end right when Franklin’s meeting with Trauma begins.
Fantastic Four #31 is a cool down issue that tries to get the team to relax and cool off while setting up new plots and story developments. The story’s not the best but it’s not the worst and the art by R.B. Silva and colors by Jesus Aburtov are still great. The family drama here is fine but nothing too excitable or outrageous. Even Reed and Ben’s trip feels a lot more tame than expected.