Writers: Dan Slott, Jason Loo & Mark Waid
Artists: John Romita Jr., Jason Loo & Paul Renaud
Color Artists: Marte Gracia & Erick Arciniega
Cover Artist: Mark Brooks
The Fantastic Four has endured the wedding of Doctor Doom, which proved disastrous due in no small part to Johnny Storm’s actions. However, in spite of this development, the heroes are not out of the clear yet. The dynasty of Kang is gathering, with the addition of a new member, and Fantastic Four #35 shows how Marvel’s first family endures an attack from Kang while celebrating their history.
This anniversary comic book is an anthology that comes with several stories to celebrate the Fantastic Four’s 60 years in comic books. Concerning canonicity, the first story is the main event and takes place immediately after Doctor Doom’s wedding while the second and third are not, but the third one could be if it takes place before Doom’s wedding. However, they’re all of varying quality.
The first story is told by current FF writer Dan Slott and is illustrated by John Romita Jr. in the story “Death in Four Dimensions”. It centers on the Fantastic Four being attacked in several moments of their history by four different alter-egos of Kang The Conqueror who are competing to gain an ultimate prize. The four aspects of Kang include Rama-Tut, the Scarlet Centurion, Kang himself, and a new identity called Scion.
The story is a very campy tale that goes through specific moments of the team’s history, but not exactly their best hits. The idea is a cool concept in and of itself, seeing the different versions of Kang compete with each other is cool. And how the story is formatted for this time travel attack by the Kangs is fun too. But the execution isn’t the best here, particularly how the different aspects of Kang interact with each other, how the FF beat them, and what the prize ended up actually being. It also doesn’t help that John Romita Jr.’s art is hit-and-miss in this comic, as it’s constantly fluctuating between working in some places and definitely not working in many others.
In fact, the biggest problem is that the story focuses too much on Kang and less on the Fantastic Four until the end. Also, Scion’s reveal is very predictable as the story unfolds and the idea of the character feels wasted. Even though the premise of the character is cool, so it can be picked up by other writers. Ultimately, it’s a flawed 1970s Fantastic Four story that’s told today with a big revelation by the end that may feel unnecessary depending on how Dan Slott handles it in the next story arc.
The second story, “Some Family Time” is written and drawn by Jason Loo and is the weakest story in the comic. It’s centered on the theme of having family time, but it’s so short. The story’s over in the blink of an eye, that it makes me wonder why it was even included or not given more time to be told. It’s kind of a blip in the comic.
The third story is “Stars” written by Mark Waid and illustrated Paul Renaud and is at heart a celebratory retelling of the team’s origins. The thing that makes this story stand out is the art by Paul Renaud. Without it, I don’t think this story would really draw that much attention to it since the plot is well-written but serviceable. It’s nothing spectacular but it does have its heartwarming moments while having a few cringe moments as well.
One nitpick, the main story has Kang and his alter egos arrested by the TVA, or Time Variance Authority, after the FF beat them. For new fans this makes sense with their organization showing up in the recent Loki series in Disney+. However, they’ve hardly been active in anything having to do with time travel for years, so their inclusion feels very forced and we’ll likely never see them again after this comic and will see Kang free soon enough.
Fantastic Four #35 does its best to celebrate 60 years of stories with Marvel’s first family in comic books. However, not all of the stories are big winners, the best would likely be the last story just by default. The main story is a campy tale that’s fun on paper but ends up being a flawed 70s Fantastic Four story told today. The second story is too short but fine enough while the third story has great art from Paul Renaud with a serviceable story. This anniversary issue is fine but not great.