Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Francesco Manna
Color Artist: Jesus Aburtov
Cover Artists: Terry & Rachel Dodson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Fantastic Four have been taken to court. Again. This time by none other than their enemy Bentley Wittman, aka The Wizard. He’s fighting them in court for custody of his young clone, Bentley-23. The last issue ended in favor of The Wizard and now Fantastic Four #39 shows the team’s big comeback.
First, there will be spoilers in this comic review. So, Spoiler Warning for Fantastic Four #39. So first spoiler, that synopsis is a bit of a lie: the TVA, Watcher, and Nick Fury don’t actually show up in the story. At all. The comic has brief preview images of them after the story is over to hype up Dan Slott’s upcoming Reckoning War storyline. Now, lets get into the real story.
So, it’s round two in court as She-Hulk defends the FF’s custodianship of Bentley-23 against the Wizard. Meanwhile, Slott has a subplot with Johnny trying to put out his fire that has a hot opening but it really goes nowhere. Quick aside: I don’t know if Slott hates Johnny or something but he keeps making him worse in the series and that opening scene with the FF is an example of that. The rest of the comic has ups and downs in the story, because whenever the comic does something nice or interesting it almost always follows it up with bad jokes or a poorly thought out idea. For example, Ben’s kids are brought to the stand starting with Jo-Venn and after giving a heartwarming testimony, but Slott then cuts to Johny’s boring subplot.
The art team does their best to portray emotional scenes that are emotionally manipulative in the comic to make readers feel for the heroes. And also highlight the loving relationships between the kids and their respective parents in the FF. The thing is, if you’ve been reading this series than you know all of this and it just feels like recap. The only useful thing here was Franklin’s testimony being used to justify the main cover and show where his character development is at right now.
But, all of this makes the case uneventful unlike the last issue and it looks like the FF are going to win this day, to no one’s surprise. But it isn’t until Bentley-23 is finally called to the stands when the comic makes its biggest play. Before Bentley-23 can even start, Bentley Wittman, aka “Bentley Prime” supposedly the original Bentley, barges into the courthouse to reveal that The Wizard has been a clone all along called “Bentley-2.” Another retcon on top of the clone retcon from the previous issue.
But the comic reveals later that he wasn’t the original Bentley Wittman, he’s in fact a clone version that was remotely made by Bentley-23 without The Wizard’s defects. This revelation and everything that comes with it should be the high point of the comic, but it shows how inconsistent and ill-thought out this idea is. See, the judge uses hi-tech scanners to see if The Wizard was a clone or not and Reed’s own examination in the previous issue said that The Wizard was the original. So Reed should’ve been able to tell that Bentley Prime was still a clone only better made, but Slott doesn’t do that and just rushes things to happen.
Not to mention none of the FF or anyone bothers to double-check Bentley Prime’s story at all to see if he really was telling the truth or not. They all just roll with it because Slott is rushing this story’s conclusion to get Bentley-23 and Dragon Man out of the house so he can start calling him “The Wizard” for some reason, despite the fact that the original is still at large.
Fantastic Four #39 resolves the court battle between the Fantastic Four and The Wizard with unsatisfying results. This issue was more uneventful compared to the last issue, but the art team does a solid job trying to portray the more emotional scenes. There is another “big reveal” made in the comic about The Wizard, but once you know the truth about it you might end up questioning where Dan Slott is going with it. Ultimately, this two-part story just feels like filler.