Fantastic Four #33 Review

by Charles Martin on June 16, 2021

Fantastic Four #33 Review
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: R.B. Silva w/ Luca Maresca
Colourist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It's the wedding day of Doctor Doom. I will go far enough into spoiler-town to say Johnny Storm ruins everything, but I won't need to spoil any details of the ruination to properly review this comic. (Also, the key details have already been shown in #32.)

I think it's safe to say that "safe" is this volume's watchword. Thus, the second page, which is the now-traditional (tiresome?) benching of the kids and Alicia. It's the last we see of them in this issue, which only slightly reduces the odds of Valeria riding in to save the day shortly.

On the night before the wedding, best man Reed Richards rejects the opportunity to plant a surveillance device in Dr. Doom's wedding ring. Doom knows this because the ring already contains a surveillance device of his own, and the fundamental goodness of his nemesis inspires him to shut down his "destroy the Fantastic Four" operations.

I dive deep enough to touch on this because, although it's a cool scene in itself, it ruins the idea that Doom has stage-managed the whole engagement to trap the FF. 

I'm not saying that it's impossible that Doom will give us a "Haha, this is exactly what I planned, you fools!" before the arc is over. What I'm saying is that if/when that happens, the ring scene becomes the plot hole that will sink the boat.

And I would like the "Wedding of Doctor Doom" arc a lot more if it were all an elaborate scheme on Doom's part.

On the visual side of things, regular series artist R.B. Silva is joined by Luca Maresca. While I'm usually wary of artist team-ups, this one is a smashing success. Mr. Maresca does a fine job of matching Mr. Silva's character rendering style, making it difficult to even see the artistic hand-offs. (But the Thing is, as ever, the telltale.)

A subtle shift in layout style happens at the wedding ceremony itself, which I think is evidence that Mr. Maresca handled those pages. The organizational principle that holds the panels together shifts from focusing on the characters to focusing on their motions. It's done well and eminently appropriate, as that scene fires up the inevitably zappy-punchy shenanigans without which you cannot have a Marvel Wedding.

Colourist Jesus Aburtov contributes some strong mood-altering work, enhancing each scene and contributing significantly to its tone. There's a nice colour contrast between the sunny morning of the wedding and the baleful sunset that greets the FF when they arrive in Latveria.

Dan Slott's handling of the Fantastic Four cast has been, to return to my watchword, extremely safe in this volume. "Johnny's a good-hearted but thoughtless himbo" is a valid read on the character, but not my favourite. (That would be Mark Waid's Human Torch, who was brash but not dumb.)

Oddly enough, this arc is starting to draw parallels between Johnny Storm and Victor Von Doom. They're both behaving instinctively here -- a pattern I like far more on Johnny than on Doom. Again, a mercurial Doom certainly has precedent. But it's not the most nuanced or interesting take on the character. And per my dissection of the ring scene above, Mr. Slott has (intentionally or not) closed the door on the possibility that "hot-headed Doom" is simply a role Doom is playing in a nice, devious Doom-scheme.

Fantastic Four #33 brings Dr. Doom right to the altar, which is where the inevitable wedding shenanigans begin. It looks terrific, it's nicely paced, and the dialogue is warm and natural. While the plot makes plenty of sense, it comes together with a feeling of more novel roads not taken, more inventive characterization not employed. This is a very well-crafted comic, but sadly not a daring one.

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Charles Martin's picture
My favourite plot point from the whole Dan Slott run -- that Alicia is using the Puppet Master's powers to contrive sinister happy endings -- vanishes beneath the surface after a strong showing in the last issue. Sigh.