Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1 Review

by Charles Martin on August 26, 2020

Fantastic Four: Antithesis #1 Review
Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Neal Adams
Inker: Mark Farmer
Colourist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Fantastic Four: Antithesis is set firmly in a "greatest hits" flashback continuity. Franklin's a baby, Agatha Harkness is his sitter. The Fantastic Four spend their morning kicking Annihilus out of New York, then spend the afternoon saving the city from a mysterious meteorite. 

I'd spoil the twist of the meteorite, but the cover does that for me. It's the Silver Surfer, badly injured and gasping out a Galactus warning. It's real meat-and-potatoes Fantastic Four stuff. 

There's nothing disappointing about that -- but it's also not too exciting.

Mark Waid's script is a well-tuned plot machine, though the tension of the meteorite scene is undercut by the spoiler cover. The dialogue is finely crafted, and the team sounds authentic. (Johnny Storm does have to soldier through a handful of Mr. Waid's usual "I am hep and relevant" pop-culture references, but they're forgivable sins.)

Ultimately, though, the script isn't the point. Unlike the majority of modern comics, this is one where the artist is the headliner. And the writing bends to his needs. I'm pretty sure Annihilus is the antagonist at the beginning purely so Neal Adams can check him off on his "classic FF characters to draw" list. (And Agatha Harkness, I think, appears for the same reason.) 

This story gives Mr. Adams plenty of space to shine with big splash panels and double spreads, and he does not disappoint. Mr. Adams' style looks a little dated in 2020, but it's also clearly the work of a master. The only real problem is another issue evident on the cover: Mr. Adams' interpretation of the Thing is an acquired taste. The rest of the team looks terrific, though, particularly Reed. It's a constant delight to see an iconic Mr. Fantastic, clean-shaven and distinguished, stretching and science-ing up a storm. (Pun?)

Laura Martin's colours suit the character-focused art well. She keeps the settings relatively muted -- but not washed out -- and lets the characters monopolize the most high-intensity colours. She leans into the FF's uniforms and lets them set the dominant hue for the whole palette. This ends up being a very blue comic, but not in any bad way.

"Essential" is about the last adjective I would reach for in describing this comic. There's no new ground being broken here, no risks being taken. But ironically, despite their trail-blazing history as the team that launched the Silver Age of comics, the cutting edge is not the Fantastic Four's turf anymore. The idea of cosmic exploration being handled by a fractious family has gone from seeming revolutionary to almost seeming quaint.

But you know what? There's nothing inherently wrong with that. 

It's OK for a comics property to orient itself toward nostalgia for a while. And this miniseries shows that you can still make creative hay out of a thoroughly safe story by, say, turning it into a platform for an exceptional art performance. Fantastic Four: Antithesis is not revolutionary or a must-read -- but it is more than capable of tickling a Fantastic Four fan's fancy.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Dang but that is an unfortunate Thing on the cover.