I’ve mentioned before that FANTASTIC FOUR is my all-time favorite comic book. FIRST FAMILY collects a mini-series from a few years ago that takes a “Year One” approach to the Fantastic Four, picking up the story soon after the disastrous trip into space that gave them their powers and greatly expanding on the origin story from FF #1. This is a dangerous thing to do when it comes to long-time fans such as myself. A writer has to do more than a simple retelling of material, but change too much and guys like me are going to be unhappy.
I’m glad to say that while there’s a little ret-conning going on in FIRST FAMILY, it doesn’t really mess with the established storyline too much, merely updating a few things and adding a villain we’ve never heard of before. The important thing is that Joe Casey’s script does a good job of capturing the characters, and some of the scenes, such as Ben Grimm’s first visit back to his old Yancy Street neighborhood after he’s turned into The Thing, work very well. It’s also nice to see little details like how the FF came to establish their headquarters in the Baxter Building. The new bad guy (who doesn’t have a supervillain moniker) isn’t too impressive, and neither is the FF’s final showdown with him. But the characters are more important here than the action, and on that score, FIRST FAMILY delivers.
The art by Chris Weston is okay, with decent storytelling that’s easy to follow for the most part, and his version of The Thing is excellent, although it’s based on the later appearance of the character, not the lumpier original version that Jack Kirby gave us in the early issues. That’s a quibble, though. Weston’s Torch isn’t bad, either.
FIRST FAMILY is an entertaining collection if you’re a fan of the Fantastic Four and have some nostalgia for those early days, as I certainly do. If you fall into that category, too, it’s worth reading.