I was pleasantly surprised at how readily the writers here at What’cha Reading jumped at this Father’s Day Favorites feature. Avery surprised me a second time by picking such a mainstream book, our resident manga/anime expert, I assumed he’d come up with something I’ve never heard of. It was a pleasant surprise.
The Fantastic Four is a team that has remained relatively constant since their creation in 1961: Reed Richards, or Mister Fantastic; Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman; Johnny Storm, the Human Torch; and Ben Grimm, the Thing. Having gone through four different movie reboots, the Fantastic Four is a superhero group that many people already know about. And they’re the perfect team to have a Father’s Day article on, especially Jonathan Hickman’s seminal run.
Starting in 2009, Hickman’s run spanned until 2012, finishing the Fantastic Four title at issue #611. In those three years, he went through many stories, including an issue that is my favorite issue in all of comics history. Why? Because throughout the issue, there is no dialogue; it’s an issue told entirely through the panels and the art, something that is done incredibly well between the writing skill of Hickman, and the beautiful artwork of Nick Dragotta, who ended up joining up with Hickman again later to write the ongoing East of West.
But why is this a good run to talk about for Father’s Day? There are many reasons. The simplest answer is that it marks the return of Reed’s father from wherever he had vanished to, reuniting the two of them at last. But, in a more touching manner, this is a story focusing around Reed and Sue’s children, Franklin and Valeria Richards, and the things that Reed goes through to protect them – and, at the same time, the things they end up doing to protect him in return. This is the run in which the Future Foundation is created; a society that Reed himself had created of children that Reed wanted to form into a better future for all of humanity. And who else to be the leaders of this strange group but the Richards children themselves.
There are moments that will make you laugh. There are moments that will make you cry. There are two particular issues in the run which, no matter what, never fail to make me cry – no matter what mood I’m in, no matter how many times I’ve already read the issue, it never fails to make me sob like a little baby. Because it’s just so beautiful; the fact that, when it comes to death, there are no words that can be said; everything is as if you’re in a bubble of your own grief, until something – or someone – is able to finally pierce through that bubble, and bring you back to life.
It’s a beautiful run, with various artists contributing to the atmosphere and all around perfection. It’s this run that solidified Hickman as one of my favorite comic book writers of all time; of course, I ended up going back and reading more from him, including Secret Warriors (another good run with an interesting father/son dynamic between Ares and his son, as well as the inspiration behind the major plot for the movie Captain America 2: Winter Soldier!). But this is always the run that I will recommend to people if they just want a good, intelligent, heartwarming comic book run.
It’s my favorite run of all time, which is saying something.