I listen to a podcast called “The Baxter Building” where two guys are reading through the entire run of Marvel’s “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine”, The Fantastic Four. They’ve been working on this project for years, offering expert and cantankerous opinions on every single issue. The latest episode included issue #347, which I happened to have lying around the office, so I pulled it out to review for you.

This issue is done by Walter Simonson and Arthur Adams, two big names in comics, and two of my favourites of all time. Simonson had a legendary run on Thor in the 80’s, basically creating the modern definition of the character. Art Adams’ art in Uncanny X-Men Annual #12 remains to this day some of my all-time favourite comic book work and visually defining the look of the X-Men in my mind’s eye. Having them work together on the FF should be epic.

Doubling down on the awesome, this issue also introduces the “New Fantastic Four”, the 90’s-tastic team of Spider-Man, Hulk, Ghost Rider and Wolverine.

Despite all this, this book is deeply flawed.

The story begins with an alien ship crashing on earth, revealing its lone passenger to be a beautiful green-haired stranger. We then get two pages of life in Four Freedoms Plaza, checking in with Sue, Reed and Franklin, Sharon (the She-Thing) and Ben, and Johnny and Alicia. Then it cuts to a group of skrulls on their way to earth hot on the heels of De’Lila, presumably the alien lady that crashed at the start of the book.

All of this happens on the first five pages of the book. Breakneck speed storytelling.

De’Lila shape-changes her way into the FF’s base and then zaps all of the team unconscious. The skrulls think they’re tracking her, but their sensors instead take them to Monster Island, where they run into the Mole Man’s monsters, and use a device to take control of the giant beasts. Mole Man, unseen by the aliens, swears swift retribution. The skrulls make the monsters attack mankind all over the world.

De’Lila, now disguised as Sue Storm, sends out a distress call to the Hulk, Wolverine, Spider-Man and Ghost Rider and convinces them the source of the monster attacks is an alien device, that the skrulls already killed the FF, and the four random heroes need to find the device for her in order to stop the attacks, the alien invasion and get justice for her slain family.

They agree.

This comic was a big deal when it came out. The “New” Fantastic Four was made up of the hottest characters Marvel had at the time, and was met with a lot of hype in the comics media. People bought this book. Even now, fans look back on these issues with fondness. I get it, it’s a fun idea, it’s got a beloved group of creators, it’s ridiculous.

But man, issue #347 is a bad book with middling art and a lot of pacing issues. It’s not really worth tracking down, and even quarter-bin comics can give you more bang for your buck.

Scott is a writer and founder at 9to5. He’s a host on The 9to5 Entertainment System and does a lot of the graphic design around these parts.

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