04th Mar2020

‘Fantastic Four: Grimm Noir #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Gerry Duggan | Art by Ron Garney | Published by Marvel Comics


I’m assuming if you are reading this that you like superhero comics. I certainly do. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy taking in a lot of different genres, but ultimately always come back to the big guys in tights punching each other. And yes, sometimes that does get a little bit samey. It’s always nice when something a little different is tried, especially taking well established characters out of their comfort zones, and that’s the prime reason this issue is sat in front of me now. As part of the Fantastic Four Ben Grimm’s adventures have normally been one third soap opera, one third action, and one third science fiction/ cosmic style adventures. Always fun, but pretty predictable. This book looks anything but predictable, that superb cover giving you the first indication this ain’t yer’ Dad’s Thing. Well, that sounded a little wrong, but you get my meaning. Let’s take a look.

We start with a nightmare. Ben’s been having a recurring one, one in which he is not the Thing, and one in which he is unable to help save Alicia his wife, from a mysterious stranger. Being human good, being powerless bad, that’s a therapists dream right there. Still, more of that later. Seems a singer over the road has gone missing, one that Alicia particularly likes, and Ben starts helping the police try to locate her. She has disappeared, in an apartment locked from the inside, a real mystery. Ben goes to bed that night, and has more nightmares, this time the singer, Rosemary, is being kidnapped by the mysterious stranger in his dreams. Alicia offers to help sculpt the face for Benn from his description, to see if he matches anything or anyone in real life. He’s certainly an ugly sucker. Reed’s no help, so Ben goes to the guy everyone goes to when a supernatural mystery rears its head….

That’s right, Dr Druid. Just kidding, Dr Stephen Strange of course. He’s not in, unfortunately, but Wong invites Ben inside. Which is a mistake as Wong is not Wong at all, but the entity known as D’Spayre, a being that feeds on, as you would imagine, despair. He drags Ben into a hellscape of a nightmare, where the trapped Rosemary sings but cannot be heard. D’Spayre has been living in Ben’s head, learning all his secrets, his past hatreds, his fears, his anger, eating it all like a ten course meal. Ben realises he has made it easy for this creature, giving it all the self loathing and fear it could consume, essentially supercharging it. Ben, though, is nothing if not a scrapper. Now he knows his enemy, he has something to hit. And not many people hit harder than Ben Grimm. He beats D’Spayre, and life resumes, a seemingly perfect idyllic dream.

But is it real?

This was superb. Gerry Duggan delivered a top notch script, with an inspired choice of villain, and a very nice take on Ben Grimm. A man covered in unbreakable rocks, but psychologically damaged inside. Some of Duggan’s monologue from Ben summed up his character and his faults perfectly. Vintage Ben Grimm for sure, and he never felt out of place in this slightly Twilight Zone take on Ben’s life. The art by Ron Garney was nothing short of sensational, especially enhanced with the muted colouring of Matt Milla, giving the book a gorgeous noir, dark look. The art throughout was outstanding, but the several full page spreads were probably the cherry on top of the cake, your eyes will just drink it in. Mesmerising stuff indeed. A perfect creative team for this one-shot.

The moral of the story? Punch despair in the face. I think we can all get behind that message. Lovely stuff.

****½  4.5/5

Fantastic Four: Grimm Noir #1 is out now from Marvel Comics


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