Writer: Karla Pacheco
Artist: Steven Cummings
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Toni Infante
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Before I dive in to my thoughts about the newest iteration of Fantastic Four 2099 #1, allow me to provide a bit of preamble to situate where I’m coming from so my later thoughts will have some context.
When I was a kid, one of the earliest comics I ever read was Fantastic Four #259, written and illustrated by John Byrne. The Fantastic Four has always been one of my favorite teams, and as a fan I’ve loved most every incarnation of this cosmic-ray empowered quartet.
Back in the ’90s, at the height of the Marvel 2099 mania, I was stoked beyond measure to read the original Fantastic Four 2099, featuring a (seemingly) time-lost FF thrown forward into the cyberpunk, Doctor Doom-ruled dystopia of the late 21st century. I am, simply put, a big fan of both the Fantastic Four as a team and the Marvel 2099 setting. So, when I heard there was going to be a new 2099-themed series of one-shots coming out from Marvel, I was excited and eager to peruse each of the titles offered. When the chance to review this title was placed before me, I leapt at the chance. Utopian-themed heroes in a dystopian setting? Sign me up!
Yeah … about that.
It’d be impossible to discuss my chief gripes with the plot without getting into spoiler territory, so I will do my ample best to keep things vague: Fantastic Four 2099 #1 sees a mercenary hired, by a very familiar looking robot, to track down four individuals to bring them together for reasons only the robot seems to understand. Each of them has powers and abilities that are variations on very familiar themes for long-time Fantastic Four fans. The denouement of the story has the team assembled, about to bring their hands together in that classic image from the first issue of the original Fantastic Four … and then? Let’s just say things take a turn. If the story had stopped there, I would have been entirely satisfied. But then the ending happened, and I felt, in a word, betrayed.
Now, don’t get me wrong: this is a well-put together comic. Karla Pacheco crafts an intricate setting with interesting characters, and the combination of Steven Cummings’s art and Chris Sotomayor’s colors makes for a visually interesting team and the world in which they battle. The lettering work from VC’s Travis Lanham makes the dialogue have a natural feel. But in terms of overall tone? It’s not for me. I get what the intent behind the story was: to ostensibly provide us with an origin of a new FF but then pulling a Shyamalan-like twist at the end. And while the ending didn’t work for me, your mileage may vary.
If you’re looking for a fun superhero story with some darkness, this one’s definitely for you. If you were hoping for a ray of light flung into 2099’s dark future, you’re going to be disappointed. I know I was.