Comic Book Binding: FF by Matt Fraction, Mike Allred & Joe Quinones.

Hello and welcome to FF WEEK here on Comfort Food Comics! All week long we will be showcasing Matt Fraction’s quirky little masterpiece here on the site. I’m kicking it off by showing off my custom bound hardcover of the series here.

Back in 2013 after Jonathan Hickman’s long and groundbreaking run on Fantastic Four and the Future Foundation FF story had concluded, Matt Fraction took over both titles. The premise for the main run is that Reed Richards discovers some type of sickness that’s killing him and he’s going to take his family to parts unknown to search for a cure, but he ends up turning that into a huge family vacation. Due to some dimensional time wonkery they’ll be gone for about a year there, but only 4 minutes in the real world. So each member gets a replacement member to fill in for them for those 4 minutes and that is where we get the premise for this new FF series as something goes wrong and the Fantastic Four are gone for far longer than they thought. Ant-Man, She-Hulk, Medusa and the Sensational Character Find of 2013 Darla Deering now must fill in as the new FF. I personally think that while the main Fantastic Four book is built on a genius family premise, the actual material isfairly boring and standard stuff until it ties back in a little at the end with FF. That’s why were highliting only the “side book” that ended up becoming one of the ALLTIME Comfort Food Comics.

I think Fraction is one of the best writers to get that the main DNA of the Fantastic Four is capital F Family and he makes that such a huge part both series. For the Fantastic Four, it’s telling a story of a mundane nuclear family summer trip, but in the cosmic way only this superhero group could exaggerate it to. For the FF it’s something more, something new and untraditional. I know FF is short for Future Foundation, the younger generation of unique characters that the Fantastic Four teach and foster, but for me the FF in the title for this book firmly stands for Found Family. You get Scott Lang, recently brought back to life only to lose his daughter Cassie, struggling with what it means to be a Dad whose lost his kid who is suddenly in charge of rearing an entire big group of children. You get Darla Deering, who throughout this series goes from alone pop star to a central figure in her own found family. You get She-Hulk, reevaulating her life and history, contemplating marriage and love with Wyatt Wingfoot, finding her “family” again. You get Medusa taking a well needed break from her real Inhuman family to actually live a little and find herself again, becoming a mother figure to the kid group which eventually consists of her own son, Ahura as well. You get the Moloid kids, one of which comes out as trans, cementing the love of the non traditional family. You get supervillain The Wizard making his own mentally unhinged found family unit of a brainwashed Medusa, Blastarr and unsuccessfully Bentley-23. You get Alex Power, trying to make it in the world in a new family unit as the “big brother figure” away from his normal superhero group The Power Pack, which is literally his family. You even get eternal loner The Watcher finding a wife and expecting a baby in these pages. Pretty much every plot or character motivation in this series deals with Found Family and it’s so smart and so beautiful and is the main reason I love this book so much.

Fraction’s creative and heartwarming storytelling is only one part of this special recipe. The amazing husband and wife art team of Mike and Laura Allred really make this book great with their incredibly unique art and colors that match the silly and creative tone of Fraction’s writing perfectly! Each page is a delight to pour over as the colors just POP off the page and each character gets a unique body language and facial expressions to match their charming personalities. The art and writing teams on comics don’t always match up right, which can hurt a book, but here it’s such a perfect match you can’t tell whose responsible for what and its clear this is such a wonderful symbiotic work. Art elevates script while script pushes the art into unexpected new creative heights. It’s everything you could want out of the medium.

Joining the Allreds on art for this series is Joe Quinones for a couple issues, including Issue #9 my favorite issue of the whole run. They wisely have Laura Allred color these issues as well and it adds a real sense of continuity to the material. Quinones is one of my favorite artists ever and his style is so unique, especially compared to Mike Allred, but he masterfully does his own take on what Allred has previously set up and that along with Laura Allred’s colors make it hard to even notice the art change between issues which is astonishing to me. It’s plain to see there is so much deliberate care and attention put into the art for this book and I really appreciate that. They could have done some sloppy fill-in but there is a plan to keep a consistent tone and look here and Quinones delivers equally awe inspiring work.

This big hardcover collects all the trades of this material but I must give you all a warning if you want to read this. They put the first three issues as well as the Marvel Now! Point One prologue short that preceded the series in this first trade collecting the Fantastic Four series. Then you get issues 4-8 in the FF Vol. 1 Trade. It is maddeningly confusing and stupid but I hope I can save anyone reading this some annoyance when they go to buy it.

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