REVIEW: ‘Fantastic Four: Road Trip,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Fantastic Four Road Trip #1 - But Why Tho?Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1 is written by Christopher Cantwell, illustrated by Felipe Andrade, colored by Chris O’Halloran, and lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna. It is published by Marvel Comics. Following the events of Empyre, the Fantastic Four decide to take a vacation to the Grand Canyon. While making their way to the Canyon, Mr. Fantastic excavates a sample of dirt from a meteor hole that has horrifying effects on the Four’s physiology.

The main selling point of this book is Andrade’s artwork. His take on the Four matches their physical attributes to their respective powers. Reed Richards is tall and lanky, Johnny Storm’s hair looks like flowing flame, and Ben Grimm is as massive as a mountain. Andrade also has fun playing with the environment. A swirl of desert dust reveals several extraterrestrial particles hidden in the dust, and later in the book, the panels seem to tilt sideways and melt into each other-reflecting the horror the Four are going through.

Andrade also doesn’t skimp on the horror sequences. Again, he takes the Four’s innate powers and turns them against the heroes. Ben, whose rock hard skin protects him, slowly sees pieces of himself peeling off to reveal raw bloody skin. Sue’s invisibility takes a horrifying turn, with her flesh slowly disappearing to reveal muscles and organs, while Johnny’s skeleton is outlined when he flames on. Perhaps the most horrifying is Reed’s power failure, which sees his skin literally melting off his body like a candle. I got serious Cronenberg vibes reading this issue, which is not a vibe fans usually associate with the Fantastic Four. O’Halloran’s vibrant colors provide a disturbing contrast to the images on the page, making it hard to tear one’s eyes away.

Cantwell is no slouch in the scripting department. He perfectly nails the Four’s characteristics, including Reed and Sue’s relationship and Ben’s gruff yet approachable manner. It’s Reed who Cantwell puts most of the focus on, as his seemingly harmless experiment is the curse of his suffering. Much like his approach to Tony Stark in the new Iron Man series, Cantwell explores the pitfalls of Reed’s genius and often obsessive nature. A key example lies in Reed’s relationship with his son Franklin. Franklin has recently been struggling with the fluctuation of his powers and is in the dumps. However, at their lowest point, Reed is able to coax Franklin into using his powers to help save them. Many writers tend to forget that Reed is a human being underneath his super intelligence; Cantwell is not one of them.

Perhaps the sole issue is the appearance of a Fantastic Four foe that feels slightly out of left field. I feel like the story would have packed much more oomph if it were just “Reed’s experiments ruined the family vacation” instead of “A supervillain comes up with an elaborate plot to kill the Fantastic Four.” It would have also been a better fit for the story.

Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1 puts Marvel’s First Family through a disturbing experience, mixing the classic family road trip with a splash of body horror. Sci-fi/horror fans will definitely want to read this book, while I advise the faint of heart to proceed with caution.

Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1 is available wherever comics are sold.

Fantastic Four: Road Trip Issue #1
4.5

TL;DR

Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1 puts Marvel’s First Family through a disturbing experience, mixing the classic family road trip with a splash of body horror. Sci-fi/horror fans will definitely want to read this book, while I advise the faint of heart to proceed with caution.