Pound for pound, the Fantastic Four is probably Marvel's most significant property. For a company built on all-ages comics and family values, Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben are the go-to family for millions of comic book readers around the globe. That's why it's something special when you get Mark Waid and Neal Adams—both industry legends in their own right—to work on Marvel's first family together.
If you're looking for a campy cape story ripped straight from 1966, Antithesis might be up your alley. Waid's writing is incredibly on-the-nose and smells of yesteryear with each passing balloon and line of dialogue. Before long, you'll realize it's to the issue's detriment, especially when you have characters like the Human Torch dropping hashtags in casual conversation—you know, as if that's something "the kids" do these days. However, there should be credit where credit's due—Waid addresses the campiness in a blink-and-you'll miss it scene between Reed and Johnny that would even make the excessively-meta Deadpool blush.
As Marvel's marketing for this title leads with, Antithesis is the first full-length Fantastic Four story Neal Adams has ever drawn and that much is apparent from the cover onward—at least when it comes to the most unique member of the group. Adams' Reed, Sue, and Johnnys are all perfect homages to the team's earliest comics. Heck, even his Annihilus has throwbacks to the character's earliest appearances, with clear Kirby homages throughout. It's one Ben Grimm where I had the biggest issue, with most close-ups transforming the lovable rock into some sort of otherworldly being, stretched somewhere between a primate and in one case, a monster ripped straight from a creature feature.
On the bright side, Adams does great work with the Silver Surfer in Antithesis, deconstructing the one with the Power Cosmic to a microscopic level. Anytime you can turn Norrin Radd into something less-than-human, that's always a win and here, it's one of this issue's biggest bright spots.
Marvel's First Family? Check. Norrin Radd? Check. Annihilus? Check. Antithesis has every ingredient it needs to be a legendary Fantastic Four tale, yet it's far from it. It's hard to get around the fact this seems as if it's nothing but a cash grab from the House of Ideas. While it still has a worthwhile plot, both the scripting and line art run stale throughout. Then, on top of everything else, Adams art combined with Martin's colors turn the artwork into a mishmash of eras as it struggles to determine what it wants to be.
The potential is there for Antithesis to redeem itself, sure—it's just got a long way to go.
Published by Marvel Comics
On August 26, 2020
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Neal Adams
Inks by Mark Farmer0comments
Colors by Laura Martin
Letters by Joe Caramagna