Fantastic Four #18 Review

by Charles Martin on January 22, 2020

Fantastic Four #18 Review
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Paco Medina, Francesco Manna & Carlos Magno
Colourist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Dan Slott dropped a perfect melodramatic bombshell in the previous issue. What makes it perfect -- from a narrative point of view -- is that it resonates with tremendous emotional impact, but it doesn't actually upset the Fantastic Four's status quo beyond this arc.

This issue is all about unpacking that revelation's effects. The script does a careful dance here: At the moment, the news means more to the Unparalleled and the other residents of Spyre than to the FF. But the author knows what we're really interested in is how the Fantastic Four deal with it.

It's time for Ben Grimm to take center stage again, emotionally speaking, as he's always had the team's most conflicted relationship with accidentally becoming a superhero. Now that he's got fresh information on how and why that happened, his reaction has enormous influence over how the story develops.

I don't want to give the impression that this is a touchy-feely issue. Emotions are explored, but they're generally shouted at top volume over the rumble of non-stop action. This issue rapidly juggles allegiances between the different power blocs in the ongoing conflict -- the Unparalleled, the Overseer, the FF, the Lowtowners -- and the result is an impressively busy battle where characters fight, unite, and fight again.

Now comes the traditional part of reviewing an FF issue with an artist carousel where I complain a little about said carousel. But truth be told, this issue's three artists collaborate quite well. Their work isn't seamlessly consistent -- as usual, you can use the different takes on Sue and Ben to tell who's drawing what page -- but there's a clear, unified force of visual storytelling that keeps things smooth.

I think the page assignments were made wisely, particularly in handing the chaotic, debris-filled climax to Carlos Magno. The big cast and busy settings are ideally suited to his detail-oriented style.

Colourist Erick Arciniega weighs in as a significant booster of the issue's visual unity. Though the wide-ranging action calls for high-intensity colours from every part of the spectrum, he keeps them rigorously consistent, helping to meld the artists' work into a single story. 

While I would still prefer seeing a story like this entrusted to a single visual storyteller, this collaboration is a best-case alternative. The fact that I'm being passed from artist to artist is never ignorable, but it doesn't have any negative impact on my enjoyment of the story. That's a bar too many "artist carousel" comics have trouble getting over, and I'm glad this one clears it almost effortlessly.

Dan Slott's script has space for more inter-FF character work beyond the Thing's plot-critical actions. Sue gets a sterling moment where she calls out her husband's usual "act now, explain later" MO, and she's right: A big part of the chaos filling up this issue springs from Reed keeping his cards a little too close to his chest.

Fantastic Four #18 does a good job unpacking the title's latest revelations while also keeping the action rolling breathlessly. Though the previous issue made a big tweak to the team's origin, now it's constructively tied into the ongoing arc. The art team aligns distinctive styles into a consistent story, and all of them keep up admirably with the script's busy pace.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Johnny's share of the story feels a little underwhelming -- not bad per se, but not as good as his teammates'.