1602: Fantastick Four
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Pascal Alixe
Colors: Rob Schwager
After the disappointing mess that was 1602: New World, I had high hopes going into Fantastick Four. I’m a big fan of Peter David, and ultimately put my trust in his hands as I go into something he’s written.
The story begins by deftly setting up the Frightful Four, having The Wizard tell a tale of them reaching the edge of the world, which attracts Otto Von Doom’s attention. Meanwhile, since defeating Doom in 1602, Richard and Sue have settled and are having a baby, John begins duels over women and gets drunk, and Ben is an actor in none other than William Shakespeare’s troupe.
The addition of Shakespeare seems a bit extraneous, but it gives the book a bit of fun and, when Doom kidnaps the bard, gives Richard a reason to lead the Four after Doom. From there it’s all action on the high seas. The two opposing parties find their way to the edge of the world, defeat a leviathan…and then fall over.
Only to find themselves in the city of Bensaylum, the guests of Emperor Numenor.
(Cue a fist pump of glee.)
Doom plots away with Numenor against Richard, but eventually things go incredibly wrong (as they do) and The Wizard gets hold of Numenor’s trident, eventually making all of Bensaylum rise from the ocean. As they rise and rise, Richard spots something above them, and in a page that truly freaked me out and took my breath away, he sees the giant eyes of Uatu the Watcher staring back at him.
I’m still getting chills.
The day is saved, though that only means the Four, plus Shakespeare and Johnny’s lady love (more like his kidnapped lady love) make it back to England in one piece as Bensaylum sinks, taking an entire civilization, Doom and the Frightful Four with it.
Though the book wraps up the Four’s story neatly, the very last pages leave a much more haunting, lasting image: Rita, adrift in an empty ocean, begging for someone to help her as we pan out to see Uatu, watching her emotionlessly.
God, that image is going to stay with me forever.
While I can’t give Alixe a full rating for his art, he managed to strike some incredible chords, especially with Uatu’s appearance. He does action well, and was a good choice for this. Peter David’s story is great as always (I might be a bit biased), balancing character moments with great action and an epic story worthy of the Four Fantastick.