Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Francesco Manna
Color Artist: Jesus Aburtov
Cover Artists: Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Fantastic Four have been through a lot, but now they’re on their way to getting their bearings again. Or so they thought. With Johnny now a perpetual Human Torch, Ben and Alicia’s family drama, and Reed’s estranged sister, there’s family drama for everyone. And as Fantastic Four #38 will show, there’s even more family drama headed their way.
So, this comic is fine, and that’s the best praise I can give it. It starts like a typical Fantastic Four scenario: the team’s having a fun time when all of a sudden the Baxter Building is attacked. It appears that The Wizard is back and attacking the Fantastic Four once again, or so it seems. See, he’s not attacking them, he’s doing something far worse – he’s taking the FF to court for full custody of his clone/son Bentley-23.
The Wizard is supposedly reformed and cleared for release and he just served the FF their papers. The FF end up being represented by none other than Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk, super-heroine and super-lawyer extraordinaire. If you’re confused why she is back to normal, well, the latest Avenger #50 came out and the biggest takeaway is that the writer finally changed Jennifer back to her sensational self. She-Hulk thinks the case will be over before it even begins, but she and the FF find out she couldn’t be more wrong.
The Wizard came prepared, but don’t let the synopsis fool you, the Frightful Four isn’t really there, it’s just him. Now, when the comic gets to the courthouse, this is where the comic is at its silliest. Apparently, the female judge they got Judge Payne is a superhuman who doesn’t stand for any super-nonsense in her courthouse. On one hand, this character’s concept is fun and interesting, but on the other hand she’s too much of a caricature herself. From there the case proceeds with The Wizard pulling one victory after another against She-Hulk and the FF.
The Wizard does bring in 1 member of the Frightful Four as a character witness against Dragon Man, El Diablo, and the appearance not only works but the character looks pretty cool thanks to the art by Francesco Manna and colors by Jesus Aburtov. During this comic though, when the FF return home after the first day in court, the story shows one of the characters point out their potential smoking gun against The Wizard. However, instead of using it the comic drags the story on longer than it really needs to be, making it into a 2-parter when it could’ve been one comic.
Admittedly, the idea of the Fantastic Four being taken to court is fun and a bit of a tradition in their series. However, this comic retreads old territory of what happens when you really take a critical look at the FF and how they handle guardianship of children. Now, the comic uses this to great effect with The Wizard using it as ammo against Dragon Man, Reed and Sue, and later Ben and Alicia. And again, he does bring up some good points about how they raise kids and let them do whatever they want at times, but that’s less to do with the FF and more the writers not handling them well.
On top of that, Slott is attempting to add another retcon into the FF’s history by having the Wizard and Mr. Fantastic say that they’ve been fighting his clone all these years, not the original Wizard. I’m not an expert on The Wizard, but even I call bull on that. The comic even has She-Hulk say that Wizard’s pulling a “Thanos” by excusing his actions on a clone, robot double, etc. This isn’t on the level of saying Franklin Richards was never a mutant, but it’s still bad. We’ll see in the next issue if the retcon for The Wizard sticks or not, it could be a ruse after all, but who knows.
Fantastic Four #38 tells a fun story that is a bit of a jumping back on point for Fantastic Four readers. The story has its flaws, notably the comic introducing a potential retcon for one of the main villains in the comic. However, the comic book still manages to be fun for what it is, and the art and colors by Francesco Manna and Jesus Aburtov are pretty good.