March 19, 2012

Review: Fantastic Four Annual 21

The Inhumans have arrived at Fantastic Four headquarters to bring Crystal home regardless if she agrees! Their journey is interrupted by another disturbance on their home base though! Writer Steve Englehart has always captured superhero teams so well and Fantastic Four Annual 21 is no exception. Having enjoyed his work in Green Lantern Corps and West Coast Avengers, this story is another example of Englehart's fine work team chemistry and characterization.

Annual 21 continues the Evolutionary War storyline that was published through most Marvel Comics annuals in 1988. The High Evolutionary is interested in the Inhuman’s Terrigen Mists and have invaded their territory on the moon, to capture it. What stands out about the annual is that it focuses less on the crossover story and more on the lives of the Fantastic Four!

The story actually begins at Fantastic Four headquarters though where the current lineup of Ms. Marvel/She-Thing, The Thing, The Human Torch and Crystal (of the Inhumans), have returned battle weary and off to catch some rest. This is quickly interrupted when Medusa and Black Bolt, make their holographic appearance to Crystal insisting that she return home to settle matters amicably with her husband Quicksilver. The rest of the Inhumans are then teleported to the Baxter Building as the battle begins to bring her back by force!

Through most of the dialogue, Englehart does a great job of introducing casual and new readers to these hallowed characters and the ongoing plots from the series.  You don't have to be a die-hard Marvel fan to know what powers, Karnak of the Inhumans has, as he subdues Crystal.

Crystal's reaction to Quicksilver
The battle at the Baxter Building is frenetic but Black Bolt decides to end the fight. Word of the High Evolutionary's devastating attack on Attila reaches everyone at Fantastic Four headquarters soon enough and EVERYONE decides to help out Crystal and her people. Furthermore the battle is one-sided with the arrival of the Inhumans and the FF, as the High Evolutionary and his forces are turned back and soundly defeated. Black Bolt teleports Crystal to speak in private and implores her to stay in Attila for family reasons. Crystal agrees and the remaining members of the Fantastic Four depart for Earth, with Johnny Storm unhappy with her decision.

Black Bolt ends the battle at FF's base
Steve Englehart manages to pull readers into the personal matters of the Fantastic Four despite having a crossover storyline in the way. Artist Kieron Dwyer's superb artwork captures the drama and action on point as well.

The Good: Great story focusing on the personal lives of the team

The Bad: Crystal leaving the team and Quicksilver's machinations.

Final Verdict: A

Images copyright Marvel Comics

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