Fantastic Four #604
Fantastic Four #604
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Penciller: Steve Epting

And so, the epic story that Hickman began three years ago with Fantastic Four #570 comes to a close. And while Hickman still has more stories to tell about Marvel's first family, it truly feels like an era has come to an end, and that the Fantastic Four have come through a modern day epic, strengthened as characters and rejuvenated in the eyes of a readership that often takes them for granted.

Hickman is a writer known for thinking big and planning intricately. This is evident in the conclusion to his story as every wheel he has put into motion since the first issue he's written has come into play at some point along the way, culminating in a finale that brings everything full circle to his first story on the title. And while the Fantastic Four themselves do not take a direct role in the battle they face this issue, it is the actions that they have taken over the course of this run, and the actions that they will take moving forward that gives them even a chance of victory on this, their most hopeless day.

Steve Epting strikes a perfect balance between gritty and cosmic, excelling in his depictions of humans and demigods alike. While Barry Kitson is a highly skilled artist in his own right, and has made for an excellent compliment on this book, switching off issues with Epting, what Epting has achieved on this title has raised his profile in this industry, and proves that artists need not be pigeon holed into a particular type of story or character. Look at how seamlessly he shifts between the micro and the macro throughout this issue's fight sequences. The human expressions and reactions to the awe-inducing battle between cosmic entities should lock in his claim to the title as one of the most versatile artists in comics.

The problem with intricate involved epics, that are all part of the same cohesive whole, is that no matter how great the story so far has been, it all falls apart if the ending does not work. I'm happy to say that this team sticks the landing. Hickman and Epting (along with numerous other very talented artistic collaborators) took the pillar of the Marvel Universe that is so often ignored, marginalized, and unappreciated, and turned their book into the must read title of the last three years. Congratulations to all involved.

Grade A

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