Fantastic Four Issue 605
With “Forever” taken care of, and Jonathan Hickman’s amazing run on Fantastic Four coming to an end soon, you might wonder what the writer has in store for his last few issues. As Vince and I said during a recent podcast episode, how can you top “Forever“?
While I was not expecting him to coast till his next project, I certain was not expecting a story as poignant as “End of Line” featuring the Thing.
Now, I won’t lie; I’ve never been a big fan of the Thing. Sure, he’s had some very strong character moments, such as with Johnny’s (supposed) death, however his two dimensionality has always held him back, in my opinion. The Thing likes to hit things. And that’s been his primary role in the Fantastic Four.
What Hickman has done with “End of Line” is demonstrate that a powerful writer is capable of making us care about characters we otherwise wouldn’t.
The story starts with a brief explanation of recent events, though the most important part pertains to the Thing.
“Thanks to a serum devised by the kids of the Future Foundation, the Thing reverts to his normal human form for approximately one week every year.”
Now, what we aren’t told, until later, is that it is only during these weeks that the Thing actually ages. During the course of this exceptional issue, we see Reed and his father Nathaniel travelling through time into the future at various intervals, to check up on the Thing.
Their first stop is in NYC, 3012 A.D., where Reed’s suspicions are confirmed about the Thing’s ageing process. Next stop, NYC Territory, 4012 A.D., where we find the Thing giving a speech to the (very large) graduating class of the Future Foundation. Ben’s looking a little gruffier, rocking a stone beard for effect. He’s still uncomfortable with public speaking, though his few words are sincere and speak volumes of the many years he’s lived.
Not happy to leave it at that, Reed asks his father to take them to 5012 A.D. and finally 6012 A.D., when an aged Thing has finally passed. Having seen during these times that the Thing has never forgotten what was most import in his life, his time with the Fantastic Four –which by all accounts would only represent a very small portion of his life– Reed makes the time for his best friend, leaving his lab to watch a fight on TV over a couple beers.
This issue works on so many levels. You can’t simply break it down to a single line or two. To do so would be such a disservice to the work that went into crafting this amazing, touching, thought-provoking journey. Hickman proves yet again that he is as capable of producing inter-galactic wars, the likes of which we’ve rarely seen, as well as character-driven single issues which strike at your being like an uppercut from the Thing.
Also, Garney and Keith did a phenomenal job with the art in this issue, capturing the time travel with style, and the facial expressions with all of the raw feeling that you would expect from such a story.
Regardless of what you have thought of Fantastic Four in the past, you owe it to yourself to pick up this issue.
Fantastic Four Issue 605
Story: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Ron Garney, Jason Keith