Characters Appearing: Captain America, Dr. Doom, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Sub-Mariner, Thing, Thor
Fantastic Four #1-3
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #1, Fantastic Four #2, Fantastic Four #3
Certainly compared to the Rob Liefeld stuff. That said, it's not Jim Lee's best work, and he has a tendency to eschew the classic designs for characters in lieu of something more monstrous.
Which is a shame, because when Lee does stick to the classic designs, it's pretty great.
It's even nice seeing the Avengers here. Thor's costume looks a little less ridiculous with Lee's pencils.
Storywise, Jim Lee's books are less bonkers than Liefeld's, but that just makes them more bland. Lee's FF feels less like a deliberate attempt to set up a new continuity, and more like a rushed tribute to the classic FF concepts. Combined with that is a feeling that it could be used as a movie treatment, in the sense that everything is connected in a way that may feel more plausible to a casual audience than a bunch of fantastical events all happening independently. So the people who become the Fantastic Four are forced to rush their planned trip in space due to Dr. Doom, and while they are in space they bump into the Silver Surfer, which is how they get their powers, then they land in the kingdom of the Mole Man, who is awaiting the coming of Galactus, and later they'll meet the Inhumans, whose Terrigen Mist is a residue of Galactus' power cosmic. So it's all crammed together, which has the unfortunate effect of robbing it of its majesty. For example, when we see Atlantis for the first time, it's via a mundane "Welcome to Atlantis" narration panel instead of having the FF actually discover the kingdom and remark on its wonders. And as i noted in the Avengers intro, Namor - despite being one of the heroes killed during Onslaught - is stuck rehashing story beats from classic Marvel comics instead of being a unique actor (i.e. he's treated no differently than the Mole Man, despite the Mole Man being a construct of this alternate universe while Namor is presumably "real").
We also get things that are changed for no discernible reason, similar to how Liefeld changed Hawkeye and Hellcat. The biggest example is Wyatt Wingfoot, who is introduced as a SHIELD agent but is immediately revealed to secretly be an evil agent of Dr. Doom. It's something that would have no impact to anyone not familiar to the original Wingfoot, but anyone who was familiar with Wingfoot would just be wondering what the point is. Things will get even weirder later, when the evil Wingfoot is revealed to actually be the Super-Skrull, and the Human Torch finds the real Wingfoot, but he's bearded, so the Human Torch burns off his beard in an odd and pointless tribute to when the Torch discovered the Sub-Mariner in the Silver Age.
Lee does tackle some things that are necessary to any modern adaptation - like making Sue Storm a successful business woman instead of a mousey sidekick..
...and giving an explanation for why launching a spaceship would be such a monumental and urgent event in a post-Apollo, post-Soviet world (it's a scientific research vessel that Dr. Doom forces into space early so that he can learn about the cosmic power he's detected).
I noted in the Cap into that, on my reread of this stuff, it didn't feel like there was ever an intention to have Heroes Reborn be a new ongoing universe. That's in part because of all the hints and references to the old universe (nothing like that yet in these first three issues but we'll get there soon). But it's also because of how quickly Jim Lee rushes through all this stuff. There's no characterization, no sense of discovery, and no sustainable worldbuilding. Just a quick checking off of boxes of classic Kirby creations. Making sure to cram it all in a year. Despite being more competently done, it's more boring than Liefeld's stuff.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 105,506. Single issue closest to filing date = 134,183.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Thor joins the Avengers in Avengers #1 but before the FF appear in Avengers #3. The FF's confrontation with the Mole Man in issue #1 ends in a cliffhanger that continues into issue #2, and then they are held by Nick Fury for questioning until Namor attacks for the rest of issue #2 and issue #3. So FF #1-3 are all a continued story (i note this because Avengers #2 says that the FF are engaged with the events of FF #2 at the time of Kang's attack, and that's not really possible).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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