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Ultimate Fantastic Four #44
Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Pasqual Ferry
Color: Justin Ponsor

This is the third issue of a five issue story centering on the the potentially catastrophic results of Reed's obsession with the Cosmic Cube and introducing the Ultimate universe version of the Silver Surfer. Norrin Radd still plays the servant to a world-altering megalomaniac, but not the one you might expect.

This twist makes space for an Ultimates version of another classic FF villain to be introduced in convincing fashion. The story fits into the established history of Ultimate FF, carrying old plots forward without requiring new readers to go back and read the stories where those threads were introduced.

Reed Richards is the center of the story, assuming roles of both protagonist and antagonist in the scheme of the story. Carey's run has focused mostly on Reed and we get to see his relations, which is a nice change from the classic Marvel universe depiction of the character. The character of Reed's sister, Enid, has the potential to turn the book into the Fantastic Five. Her character is great fun, and I like the interaction between Reed and his parents, but I do sense the absence of the other members of the FF in the last three story arcs, as they mostly play supporting roles in these stories that center on Mr. Fantastic. There's nothing wrong with that, but I hope the book returns to a sensibility more suited to the ensemble nature of the cast once the Silver Surfer arc play itself out.

The real strength of the book is the action scenes, where the words and art come together in the most satisfying way. The combination of Pasqual Ferry and Justin Ponsor evokes an atmosphere of alien interaction with a possible near future with a style that combines the best elements of Hartmut Esslinger and Moebius. The tech, the people, the effects, the art on this book is a cut above. I want to see these guys get hired to produce some expensive animation. Take a look at the three panels on page five. The depiction of the powers and flow of the action is outstanding. Whoever hired the art team for this book should get bonused immediately. I'm certain Joe Quesada will get right on it.

The only major complaint I have with the book is we lost some of the fun of the group as teenage heroes around the Namor story arc. I like the cosmic themes and the follow-through on plot points has added a welcome dimension to the book but I want a breather. I want to see the team presented as a team and less of a back-up band for a bit. And I want see Johnny get to name another vehicle because, let's face it, a moniker like "The Awesome" is too cool.

David Akhond

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