The great climax of Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman (and a small army of performers) arises when an adult Franklin Richards is pushed to the limit of his abilities by a group of Celestials and, with his remaining forces, revives Galactus to act as his herald and partner in repelling the threat of reality. It’s one of my favorite moments in comics and one of the most memorable showdowns in superhero fiction in general. A perfect culmination for a legendary build.

Then the story continues. For approximately 360 pages. It’s a masterpiece.

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Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four: The Complete Collection Vol.  4
Jonathan Hickman says, of foundation, “the most important word in comic writing”.
Marvel Comics

Hickman’s time on The Fantastic Four is interesting for a bunch of reasons, but most importantly, it’s a place where he continued to tell stories even after the main story he intended to tell ended. You don’t really have room for that when you’re telling the story that ended the Marvel Multiverse, or when you’re writing a famous X-Men revival for whatever reason. Here, however, Hickman wrapped up his main plot beautifully. Then I wrote more adventures for Marvel’s First Family. These are some of the best Marvel comics he ever wrote.

The Fantastic Four #605 and FF #23 are two of these comics – among my favorite superhero issues I’ve read – the latter being my favorite ending for a superhero book. They are both able to perfectly show the core of the characters in 20 pages. Even those aside, the rest of the book is Hickman in a mode we don’t often see him in, where he tells stories that aren’t completely in service to what he’s going to do next. That’s right, part of it builds towards its avengers run – and curiously towards AvX which was funny to see – but for the most part he just vibrates in this nook he built into a room. We can see him tie up a few details, and even make a cast addition, while sending the team on another classic adventure inside Willie Lumpkin. It’s fun and meaningful in a way that’s immediately understood, rather than understood months or years later when it all comes together.

Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four: The Complete Collection Vol.  4
The delicious art of Araujo.
Marvel Comics

Hickman getting to stretch different muscles is definitely a highlight here, but I think the art of collecting is just as exciting, if not more so. Dragotta is obviously the GOAT here. The above FF #23 is probably my favorite art of all the superhero comics I’ve read, and it’s apparently a platform for him to draw the most fun comic there is, but beyond of him, the comic is stacked with others all the time. Stegman, Walta, and one of my personal favorites, Araujo, all have jobs here that are about as good as anything Hickman has worked on at Marvel.

Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four: The Complete Collection Vol.  4
Reed, explaining the theme to anyone who didn’t understand it 40 issues ago.
Marvel Comics

It’s honestly just a fantasy comic. Obviously, you’re not going to read this fourth volume on its own, but uh, I don’t own the other three either, so it’ll just sit on my shelf on its own, and I’m glad of that, because I don’t anyway , I have no shelf space or money for all four. But if I had to have one, it would be this one, where Marvel’s First Family travels around a bit and does some nice things for their friends.

Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four: The Complete Collection Vol.  4
The Adventure Stuff.
Marvel Comics

That’s really all there is.

Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four: The Complete Collection Vol.  4

‘Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four: The Complete Collection’ Vol. 4 is a masterpiece

Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four: The Complete Collection Vol. 4

It’s a modern classic, as simple as that. This collection alone is perfection, but as the crowning glory of the greatest series, it’s one of the greatest superhero comics in existence.

Some of my favorite artists ever.

Hickman operating outside the machines he invented to create a plot.


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