Welcome back for Kate and Rachel’s second review of the X-Men/Fantastic Four miniseries! You can find the review of the first issue, here.
X-Men/Fantastic Four #2
Joe Caramagna (Letterer), Rachel Dodson (Inker), Terry Dodson (Penciler), Laura Martin (Colorist), Karl Story (Ink Assist), Ransom Getty (Ink Assist), Chip Zdarsky (Writer)
February 26th, 2020
This review contains spoilers for X-Men/Fantastic Four #2.
Kate: So the main conflict of the story was laid out as being essentially a custody battle over Franklin Richards, omega-level mutant and teenage son of Reed Richards and Susan Storm. Being a mutant, Franklin has a “birthright” of being welcomed into Krakoa, the new mutant homeland, and the X-Men (especially Charles Xavier) really want him to go there like, now. That puts him in conflict with the Fantastic Four, who naturally want their son to stay with them.
On top of that, we have the fact that Franklin has been losing his powers, and while Reed was experimenting with different ways to get those powers back, he also decided to find a way to block the X-gene so that Franklin can’t travel to Krakoa using the gates that lead to the island. Which, understandably, did not go over so well with anyone, but especially Franklin.
Other highlights from last issue include Professor X and Magento behaving like an old married couple, Sue Storm putting Magneto into an invisible hamster ball, Kate Pryde and Franklin catching up, and Valeria being an enabling little sister and urging Franklin to stowaway on Kate’s pirate ship–and then tagging along.
Did I forget anything, Rachel?
Rachel: That about covers it, save for a last page appearance by my favorite comic book dictator, Doctor Doom. Doom enters the fray as a third player looking to “fix” Franklin’s powers, whisking the Richards children and Kate Pryde’s Marauders off to his very own tropical island while the Fantastic Four and X-Men are preoccupied with each other. Nobody does it like Doom. Meanwhile, back in New York, the Fantastic Four assume the X-Men have kidnapped their kids, which isn’t exactly unreasonable considering they did show up at their door with a bunch of super strong mutants just the other day. Is it shallow if I say I really like Reed and Sue’s athleisure outfits at the start of this issue? I always like seeing civilian clothes on superheroes and they look good, very outdoors-y.
Kate: Reed’s jacket is so good. He looks stylish! Unlike my favorite hothead, who is rocking some unkempt eyebrows and stubble. I’m very displeased.
Rachel: I don’t know what happened there! Dodson wasn’t drawing him like that in the last issue. It’s like the kids ran away and he grew anxiety stubble overnight. Sue’s the real scene-stealer in this opening scene for me, though. I’m always happy when they let her get into the depths of her rage, and it’s a nice reminder that the easiest way to get her there is to mess with her kids. I’m not sure what Xavier expected to happen here, given that she once took out an entire Avengers team when the kids were threatened. Her snapping at the unintentional implication that Franklin is more valuable than Valeria because she’s not a mutant was a great character moment, although I feel a little bad for Scott putting his foot in his mouth like that. Is nobody on Krakoa running seminars on how to talk to parents?
Kate: That scene was so interesting to me, because it does feel like, dangerously close to a reverse racism accusation in a weird way, and I don’t know if that’s been something that’s been addressed in any of the X-comics being put out right now. It makes me uncomfortable, but I was also glad that it’s in there because it makes me uncomfortable, if that makes sense. And between that and the conversation between Doom and Kate later, where he states that moved all of his “enhanced people” to Doom Island for their protection and that they don’t want to go to Krakoa, it seems like there’s another narrative thread going through this series with addressing how the mutants have to position themselves, rhetorically speaking, when faced with these kinds of arguments.
Rachel: And then there’s the three Jewish characters divided up among both groups standing around not contributing to that specific conversation, again. It would be interesting if this series goes on to address that thread, but I don’t know if there’s enough room here with only two issues to go or if that’s something that will be picked up in the books that follow this one.
My favorite part of this issue is definitely Doom and Valeria’s relationship. This marks the first time they’ve seen each other since the Fantastic Four’s return and their interactions as Machiavellian uncle and devious niece are as charming as ever. I love how Valeria’s probably the only person in the world who can tell Doom to cut to chase. It’s also a really interesting dynamic with Franklin present, because Franklin and Valeria have had such different experiences with Doom. To Valeria he’s her Uncle Doom and you can see she has absolute faith that he loves her and wants the best for her. To Franklin, Doom’s the guy who has tried to toss him into hell on two separate occasions. Considering we, the readers, know Doom has something probably sinister up his sleeve concerning the reawakening of Franklin’s powers, I’m curious to see if Valeria’s relationship with the man who is essentially her second father gets tested.
Kate: I am not nearly as well-read as you are when it comes to Doom and Val’s relationship, so it’s really interesting to me to see her talk to Doom like this, and to see her call him Uncle Doom of all things! And have him respond by saying he’s missed her!
And like you pointed out, we know there’s something up with this deal between Kate and Doom and Franklin, and Val’s assertion that Doom’s motivations are simply him wanting to outsmart Reed definitely read like hubris.
So while Kate makes deals with Doom, the Fantastic Four sneak into Krakoa to spy on the X-Men and we get an actual battle between X-Men and the F4, which somehow manages to feel a little halfhearted, like when we got the “battle” scene at the airport in Captain America: Civil War. It’s entertaining to see the characters use their powers against each other, but I also don’t want them to be fighting each other.
Rachel: The fight scene felt a little rushed and muddled to me. One minute Scott is announcing in front of everyone that he’s a sub while Emma smirks on, the next everything is exploding. Less fighting, more weirdly horny conversation!
I did like the focus on Sue as the real powerhouse of the team, though, and that as soon as she goes down the rest of the Fantastic Four panic. It’s a nice way to knock the assumption that she’s only good for defense off the page. I’m hoping that, much like the original Fantastic Four vs X-Men series, all the players are going to have to grudgingly work together for the big finale because that’s my favorite way to end a superhero-on-superhero fight. I also hope that like the original series, to bring it back to the weirdly horny place, Doom flirts with Storm again. They’re one of my favorite “unexpected chemistry” pairs.
Kate: Yes, Sue being a badass and Reed being very strategic and leader-y was really nice to see, because we never get to see that, but like, the X-Men being super fucky is something I was not prepared for! I mean, sure I’m on social media and I see all the jokes but seriously we never get to see the Fantastic Four be horny on main like this.
Rachel: Oh my God, Kate, the X-Men are so fucky. It is something you kind of have to witness with your own eyes and I love that this is your first exposure to it. As a Fantastic Four fan first and foremost, I’m kind of jealous because their horny content is a drop in the bucket by comparison. The X-Men meanwhile probably have every kink covered between them all. Some people get all the luck.
Kate: I legit felt slightly scandalized! But it also made me wonder what an X-series by Chip “Sex Criminals” Zdarsky would be like, so there is that. I was a big fan of Chip’s NSFW series The White Trees, so that’d be on brand.
Any predictions for the next issue?
Rachel: Zdarsky really seems to like writing Reed and Doom together, if his Marvel Two-In-One #12 where Reed’s essentially having an emotional affair with an alternate universe Doom is anything to go by, so I’m hoping for a little something-something between them. Maybe Sue will get to smash up a beach cabana. Also I know this was my complaint last issue, but I’m still feeling like an abandoned Dickensian moppet over Johnny’s lack of page time. Please, Zdarsky, can I have some more?
Kate: I don’t anything else to add except to agree wholeheartedly. And since apparently Zdarsky always puts his fans first…
Where’s the Johnny, Chip? Give the fans what they want!