Fantastic Four: 4 Yancy Street #1 Review

by Charles Martin on August 28, 2019

Fantastic Four: 4 Yancy Street #1 Review
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artists: Greg Smallwood, Mark Bagley, Luciano Vecchio & Pere Pérez
Colourists: Greg Smallwood & Eric Arciniega
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

This little one-shot dives into one of the cutest ideas of the current Fantastic Four run: relocating the family to Yancy Street.

Telling a Yancy Street story means telling a Ben Grimm story, and Gerry Duggan's script starts by taking us back to his childhood to throw some light on what his deceased brother Daniel means to the Thing.

That's the emotional foundation for this contemporary tale of Ben Grimm solving a problem his family's inadvertently caused. The arrival of the Fantastic Four has dragged the dreaded demon gentrification onto Yancy Street. All the locals Ben knows and loves are being priced out of their apartments.

But of course, gentrification needs a clobber-able face, obligingly delivered here by the Terrible Trio. They're providing shady thug backup to the legal trickery being used to muscle out the long-time Yancy Streeters.

Ben's outrage is the force that gets the story moving and makes the physical conflict work. It's up to cooler heads to actually solve the gentrification problem (and even win the fight), but I like the way the script gives Ben full credit for divining the shape of the solution on his own initiative.

As you can see from the credit block, this issue gets a huge helping of artistic talent. This is something of a double-edged sword. These are all good artists, and they each draw a good section. But the joints between them are big and, in some cases, ugly. 

Part of the problem is having the Thing as a protagonist. He's an iconic character and every artist loves giving him a distinctive look. All the great artists sharing this Ben Grimm story result in a lot of different distinctive looks (though the initial childhood flashback only needs two panels of the Thing).

I'm also struggling with the colour work. The childhood flashback gets a full-on "paint the medium" retro colouring job, complete with yellowed backgrounds and fake return colour tabs in the upper margins. 

When the art carousel brings Mark Bagley on deck for the big fight scene, the warm, muted "this is a flashback" colours return with a vengeance. And I'm not being cute when I say that; I read five pages of the fight and then stopped and said, "Wait, this is a contemporary scene in the gentrification story?"

The ability of those soft shades to confuse me so thoroughly is a testament to the often-overlooked storytelling strength of a comic's colour palette. I wish it were a positive example, but it's a powerful one.

The script doesn't exactly deliver the greatest Ben Grimm story of the age, but it doesn't deserve to be undercut and overshadowed by problematic visuals the way it is. It's got a solid plot that creates a compelling conflict and resolves it well. It tells some golden jokes, including Ben catching a traditional pie-in-the-face from the most unlikely prankster imaginable. Starting with Ben's childhood family trauma is a little trite, but it turns into a strong tie to the story's overall theme.

Fantastic Four: 4 Yancy Street #1 delivers a fun, heartwarming story centred on the Marvel universe's greatest rock-covered cream-puff, Ben Grimm. A sound script is ill-served by a team of great artists who don't quite gel together and some questionable colouring choices.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
As a dude who foolishly put a confusing double-M in his email address, I coulda warned Marvel that they're asking for trouble with a title that includes "Four 4."