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Fantastic Four: Wedding Special #1 Review

by Charles Martin on December 12, 2018

Fantastic Four: Wedding Special #1 Review
"(Invisible) Girls Gone Wild"
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Laura Braga
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Joe Caramagna

"Father Figure"
Writer: Dan Slott
Penciller: Mark Buckingham
Inker: Mark Farmer
Colourist: Matt Yackey
Letterer: Joe Caramagna

"The Puppet Master's Lament"
Cartoonist: Fred Hembeck
Colourist: Megan Wilson

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Wedding bells are ringing again, and this time (hopefully!), things are going to go down better than they did for Kitty Pryde and Colossus.

First things first: This Special sticks to Marvel's current pattern for single-title events. It delivers non-essential side-stories rather than "can't miss 'em" plot developments.

It's still an awful lot of fun. The A-story shows how Alicia's bachelorette party devolves into precisely the sort of superheroic shenanigans Ben worries about in the opening pages.

Some brilliant comedy writing elevates the front half of the strip. The Amaquelin sisters (Medusa and Crystal) serve as formidable comic relief. The funny keeps rolling when the fighting inevitably kicks off. This is Jennifer Walters' chance to bring the laughs.

Finally, a writer takes the current extra-savage characterization of Jen's Hulk and uses it to successfully deploy a Feminist Hulk-type Hulk in a Marvel comic. The results are hilarious:

"Stupid Mole Men spoil intimate and tasteful sex dance! Hulk was going to make it rain!"

(I should mention that the primary scene of action is the "World War Hunk" hero-themed male strip club.)

The rear of the A-story balances things out with some serious heart, resulting in a very satisfying meditation on the meaning of love and a good time all around.

The B-story is a lot shorter, focusing on one key conversation: Ben Grimm asking for the Puppet Master's blessing before his marriage. It's a meeting with plenty of potential for tragedy, comic overtones notwithstanding.

It turns out great for Ben, but Alicia exerts an outsize influence on the plot despite her brief panel time. This strip raises provocative questions about the soon-to-be Mrs. Grimm in a positive and mind-blowing way.

The whole package ends with a gem of a comic strip by Fred Hembeck (!) which both entertains and fills in any gaps you might have in your Silver Age knowledge of Alicia and the Puppet Master.

It's a nice capstone; the entire special is drenched in Silver-Age respect. I think that's perfectly fitting for Ben Grimm, one of the Marvel universe's founding heroes. (Also, I think, the best hero, but that's just my opinion.) These strips focus more on Alicia and the Fantastic Four's supporting cast, but it's clear throughout that the storytellers share Alicia's deep love for the Thing.

Artistically, I think the standout of the issue is the strong lean into Kirby territory in the B-strip. You might say it's a necessity with a character as supremely goofy-looking as the Puppet Master, but the art team commits fully to the heavy, powerful lines necessary to evoke the King properly.

Although I do ask: Was it truly necessary to dress Alicia in pure 1964 fashions?

The A-strip art does perfectly serviceable storytelling, but it seems unlikely to stick in the reader's memory. It reminds me of a much less-beloved characteristic of Kirby's Fantastic Four - it relies too heavily on hairstyles and costumes to differentiate between female characters. Aside from their similarities, though, the characters are expressively and impressively rendered.

Colours throughout the special are vibrant and intense, coming to a peak in the Puppet Master strip that coincides perfectly with the linework hitting Maximum Kirby. Strong, contrasting colours seem eternally suited to the Fantastic Four. There's something about this team's adventures and foibles that demands a bright, optimistic palette.

This Wedding Special delivers a few non-essential but thoroughly enjoyable peeks at the preparations for the big day. It has tremendous heart, but also a surprisingly edgy portrayal of Alicia. That keeps it from being all fluff and ensures it provokes thought. It's separated from all-time greatness only by a (slight) lack of memorable art.
 

Our Score:

9/10

A Look Inside

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Charles Martin's picture
Yes, of course, the Yancy Street Gang is painting congratulatory graffiti on Ben's house.