26th Mar2020

‘Marvels Snapshots: Fantastic Four #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer | Art by Benjamin Dewey | Published by Marvel Comics


Following hot on the heels of the rather fantastic Sub-Mariner Snapshot issue, Namor of course being one of the launch characters of Timely Comics Golden Age books, we move on to the Fantastic Four. Why them? Well, the Fantastic Four were pretty much the launch characters of the Silver Age of comic books. Those first 100 issues of Fantastic Four probably had more influence on modern comic books, and on future creators in the industry, than pretty much any other run on any book. Rather like Superman over at DC, their popularity has ebbed and flowed down the years, but not their place in comic book history. That is set in stone. The concept of these Snapshot books, looking at fantastic things through the eyes of ordinary people, is very cool, but I do wonder how you do that with such cosmic characters as the Fantastic Four. Let’s take a look.

The status quo of living in the Marvel Universe as a normal person is shown in the first few pages, as Dorrie Evans gets ready to attend her 10 year high school reunion against a background of TV news full of superhero on super villain violence. Why are we following Dorrie? Dorrie is the former girlfriend of a certain Johnny Storm, and as part of the reunion , in Glenville New York, she has agreed to do a television interview with reporter Marcia Hardesty, as have various others who knew Johnny. Johnny, along with Reed, Sue, and Ben, is different in that his identity is publicly known, and so is where he came from. The Fantastic Four Museum in Glenville, is again proof of how superheroes are the superstars of the Marvel Universe. Well, some anyway.

The Fantastic Four Museum is a pretty cool place, which Marcia and Dorrie visit as they talk to each other, and we get as much a guided tour as they do. Glenville is very proud of Johnny and Sue Storm, and grudgingly acknowledge the other two. Why Johnny more than Sue? Johnny always had a nose for trouble, was always the tearaway, always more likely to be in the public eye. Older sister Sue was much more grounded, low key, understated. Johnny was a hothead before he was a hothead, if you get my drift. Tour guide Wayne Morris also has a few Johnny stories, which he gladly passes on to the TV reporter. Next on the whistle stop tour is a visit to a retirement home, where old Torch villain the Asbestos Man is. He gives us the villains insight, which is surprisingly and affectionately written by Dorkin and Dyer.

We then get to the meat of this story, where Dorrie tells of her relationship with Johnny. They were dating before he got his powers, and dated for some time after, but Dorrie knew things were changing too much. How could Johnny stay with a small town girl like her when he was off in Wakanda one week, Latveria the next. She also had the short end of the stick when she was kidnapped once or twice by super villains. Dorrie clearly loved Johnny, but never loved The Human Torch. Speaking of whom, Johnny arrives in typical understated fashion for the reunion, cracking bad jokes and being every part the superstar. Every former classmate seemingly has a story about him, not all good. Maybe Glenville isn’t so proud after all. Then Dorkin and Dyer give us a very clever turnaround, something that makes us see Dorrie and the residents of Glenville in a very different light. None more so than Johnny though.

Although very different to the Sub-Mariner issue that preceded this one, the affection for the Marvel Universe and Johnny and the Fantastic Four is certainly writ large. The take on Johnny is lovingly done, beautifully written and drawn, and gives Johnny’s character a new angle, a new way for us to look at him. The writing throughout is excellent, but a special mention for the beautiful artwork of Benjamin Dewey, who gave the book a Silver Age feel throughout with lovely clean art, unfussy layouts, and packed a lot of visual storytelling in on every page.

Another near home run. The lack of perhaps any action may put some off, though as a character piece I found it superb.

Rather like Johnny, this book is nothing short of Fantastic.

****½  4.5/5


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