FANTASTIC FOUR #13 / Writer: Dan Slott / Artist: Sean Izaakse / Color Artist: Marcio Menyz / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna / Cover Artist: Esad Ribić / Publisher: Marvel / Release Date: August 14, 2019
In this issue, Dan Slott focuses on the conclusion to his two-issue smackdown between Ben Grimm and the Immortal Hulk. Ben wants to enjoy his honeymoon with his wife Alicia, but the machinations of the Puppet Master and a fighting mad Immortal Hulk prove that the best-laid plans of mice and Ben often go awry.
The rivalry between Ben and the Hulk goes back to the earliest issues of the Fantastic Four. These two titans of tough have often exchanged blows over the years. What sets this fight apart is how the current lived experiences of the two leads influence their fighting styles. Hulk has become much crueler and colder since adapting the Immortal moniker and Ben now has a wife to protect. These characters’ new perspectives go a long way to influencing their actions.
Slott’s run on the Fantastic Four has been a little chaotic. When he focuses on character interactions and the interplay between the team, he does a great job. Although, his plots sometimes tend to be overly simplified for what he is attempting to accomplish. While there are a few particularly salient character interactions (largely between Ben and Alicia) this issue eschews many of the character moments in the writing. Slott prefers to let the art depict the character’s internal motivations.
Sean Izaakse is one of Marvel’s newer artists, and he does an amazing job of exploring the character’s mental states through their body language. There is a particular moment where Ben assumes a fighting position that not only serves to counter the Hulk but also reflects his background as a man of the streets. It’s a solid character moment that highlights how well of a fit Izaakse is for Marvel’s First Family. This is further compounded by a particular two-page spread that serves as a climactic moment of both plot and character. It looks awesome while simultaneously driving the plot.
Slott has a good understanding of Ben’s character so his interactions with Alicia tie the plot together. This provides a strong emotional core to a relatively straightforward action issue. These moments between Ben and his wife also reiterate why Ben is the heart of the Fantastic Four and the Marvel Universe at large.
Also, despite this being a Fantastic Four Book, Slott has a good grasp on the Immortal Hulk as well. He does a great job showing his motivations through the dialogue. He also demonstrates how different the Immortal version of the character is from typical depictions of the Hulk. The Epilogue focuses on the character in a way that is both deserved but also disturbing.
Ultimately, this issue succeeds mostly based on the kinetic and frenetic energy of the art. This is especially powerful when paired with the always heartwarming moments between Ben and Alicia. Besides that, the plot is pretty straightforward and does not particularly challenge the characters or push the story in new directions. If you want an all-out knockdown, drag-out fight between two of Marvel’s perennial characters, you could certainly do much worse.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Fantastics