Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Rachael Stott
Color Artists: Jesus Aburtov & Erick Arciniega
Cover Artist: Cafu
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Marvel universe finds itself in the midst of the Reckoning War – a state of total war sparked by the ancient alien race once uplifted by the Watchers called the Reckoning. The Fantastic Four seek to stop their plans before they take their revenge on the Universe and have broken off into two teams, with one consisting of Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, She-Hulk, and Jack of Hearts. In Fantastic Four #42, their team rush to stop the Reckoning’s plans on their end.
The Reckoning War continues as the Fantastic Four try to thwart the Reckoning’s vengeful plan for the Universe. As before, the art by Rachael Stott continues to be great to look at with the colors by Jesus Aburtov and Erick Arciniega. Together their artwork delivers some cool and vibrant imagery with the backgrounds, visual momentum, and when the characters are in action. The art is top-notch and no matter what direction the story goes in, the comic will look good as long as they’re working on it.
The writing on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired. The story starts out fine enough with some action by the Reckoning on Earth, though it’s nothing to brag home about. From there the comic shifts to Mr. Fantastic’s team in Sh’iar Space where they’re licking their wounds after getting beaten by Rapture and her brother. However, something terrible happens that causes a rift between Reed and Ben. After that, the comic gives some pages on what’s happening with the other members, some more impactful than others. Then we finally get some interaction with Wrath, leader of the Reckoning, but like before, it’s nothing to brag home about.
It seems that Dan Slott is cashing in on some of his past stories in this series and others for this event. For example, the reason She-Hulk’s involved in all of this is because of a story Slott did in his previous She-Hulk series. Also, the buildup from the deaths that the FF members were shown by the Griever in earlier issues, and more. He’s paying off things that were established early in his FF run, but readers’ mileage will vary on whether its good or not.
Quick nitpick: While the artists do a great job in the book, She-Hulk’s hair is way too long. From the beginning of the Reckoning War in the Alpha issue, she has been drawn with extremely long hair for some reason. Mind you, She-Hulk doesn’t have hair long enough that it reaches her knees, and you can check out her current series to see for yourself. It’s like Rachael Stott just gave her long hair to look cool but it looks weird on her.
Of course, there’s the big fight tha’ts promoted on the cover and in the synopsis: The Thing vs. Mr. Fantastic. For once, the comic book actually delivers what it says will be in the comic. However, the fight between them is so contrived for all of the worst reasons and it makes both Reed Richards and Dan Slott look bad. The fight itself just feels wholly unnecessary, and I’ll get into why in the SPOILERS section.
So, I said that the reason behind the fight between The Thing and Mr. Fantastic is contrived and I’ll explain why. As you can see in the preview images, the Baxter Building is attacked by the Badoon led by a Reckoning warrior. The kids tell Reed and enact “PROTOCOL ZERO” to keep the Forever Gate out of their hands. Reed tells Ben the bad news, Ben goes berserk and starts attacking Reed and even prepares to kill him. But it turns out Alicia and the kids aren’t dead, it wasn’t a self-destruct protocol and they’re perfectly fine, the line just cut out for a bit. The comic doesn’t even reveal what Protocol Zero really is.
You might think Ben is in the wrong here, but most of the blame goes to Reed because he outright lied to Ben and said Alicia and the kids were dead. Why? Because he needed to get Ben’s head in the game, so he emotionally manipulates him to stir his fighting spirit and make sure he won’t freeze up when fighting the Reckoning again. This…is just bad writing and while Dan Slott can chock this up to “Watcher tech messing with Reed’s mind” it’s a poor excuse for poor writing. The obvious alternative is Reed could’ve told Ben the truth and give him an inspiring speech to fight the Reckoning with all of his might for the sake of their families, friends, and the whole Universe. Instead we get a big convoluted fight between beloved superheroes for artificial drama.
Fantastic Four #42 brings the next part of the Reckoning War. The art by Rachael Stott with colors from Jesus Aburtov and Erick Arciniega continues to be top-notch in this event. However, the big brawl between The Thing and Mr. Fantastic fails to deliver as the reason behind the fight is contrived, making the whole fight feel forced.