Fantastic Four #9

Written by: Matt Fraction
Art by: Mark Bagley

It’s a real treasure to have a series like the current Fantastic Four that manages to build on each installment while offering a solid standalone tale. While the characters in Fantastic Four #9 make some questionable decisions, Fraction and Bagley continue their trend in delivering entertaining and thought-provoking stories as we spend some time at the genesis of Doctor Doom. Turns out he was always a dick.

The whole plot of this issue may seem like a rehashed story in some form; trying to stop Victor Von Doom from becoming the man he is today by retreading his steps and convincing him otherwise. But it’s the little moments in this issue that give it its emotional punch. The single page of “recap” outlining Doom’s origin was the perfect way of making something so many readers would find convoluted but allowing it to be taken in small bites with sharp dialogue and key visuals. This is the kind of thing that makes a Marvel NOW! book accessible.

Ben Grimm takes most of the spotlight yet again, but his brashness is coming off as dumb at this point in time. Ben insists on messing with the time-space continuum in the most destructive way, even though I’m sure he’s been made aware in the series in the past that time cannot be thrown off course so drastically. But alas, that is his character, he does roar “It’s Clobberin’ Time,” afterall, so we’re left to accept his decisions in stride.

The dynamic between Reed and Victor is written to a tee by Fraction, defining implicitly one of the more complex hero-villain relationships in comics. It was one of those “a-ha” moments when we discover that Victor created himself partially in Reed’s image – daring, curious and unrelentless. Bagley art is at its best during Victor’s mask-ceremony as the look in his eye speaks volumes for the fear, yet determination, he feels.

Fantastic Four #9 clearly defines the characters of Reed Richards, Ben Grimm and Victor Von Doom, and I recommend it to new readers who want to learn the intricacies in their decision-making and dynamics, as well as longtime readers who want a new perspective on the guilt Ben Grimm faces for the decisions of his past.

Score: 8.6/10