The end of House of X and Powers of X brought a new and exciting status quo for the X-Men, followed by a surge of questions for the mutant nation on the horizon. One major question was the fate of Franklin Richards: boy genius, son of Reed and Sue Richards, member of the Future Foundation and the Fantastic Four. He’s also a beyond omega level mutant “God-child”. He’s one of the Marvel Universe’s most powerful beings and one of the very few mutants not currently living on Krakoa. All of that is about to change though with X-Men Fantastic Four #1 by Chip Zdarsky and Terry and Rachel Dodson. Let’s find out just what happens when the merry mutants and the fab four come to blows...again.
The issue picks up with a quick recap on just who Franklin Richards is but brings one important fact to the table: he’s slowly losing his powers and he’s not exactly happy about it.
We cut to Krakoa, where Professor X and Magneto are also concerned with Franklin’s problem, as losing an omega level mutant wouldn't be the best for the mutant nation. We saw the X-Men court the young Richards boy into embracing his mutant heritage before (specifically in the pages of House of X #1) but it looks like now might be the time to finally convince him to come “home” to Krakoa. If the promise of helping him keep his powers isn’t enough to bring him into the fold, maybe Kate Pryde can do the trick.
Why? Well Kate and Franklin are actually close friends from when he used to visit her in Latveria while Doctor Doom was trying to heal Kitty (Fantastic Four vs. X-Men from the 80’s). Kate agrees to be a part of the delegation to bring Franklin over but before she gets on her ship, she meets up with Wolverine who swaps some advice for “Canadian healthcare” (beer). She’s worried about Franklin being caught in the middle of this and a kid having to make a big decision. Wolverine reminds her that she wasn’t much older than Franklin when she came to the Xavier School and unfortunately when you’re a mutant kid, you have to grow up real fast.
Meanwhile over at 4 Yancy St., Reed Richards is running some tests on his son to figure out how to stop his powers from going away, but can't, which leaves Franklin giving his dad some teenage angst. Sue comforts Reed and reminds him that Franklin’s still trying to find his place in the world and that being a member of the FF definitely doesn’t help that. Franklin goes to vent to his uncle Ben Grimm about how he thinks Mr. Fantastic doesn’t really wanna help him (or The Thing for that matter) but Ben knows that Reed’s a good person and also that he knows that both Ben and Franklin would never forgive him. This uncle / nephew talk is interrupted by the arrival of the X-Men who are already met by one of Sue’s force fields. Before a fight breaks out Kate Pryde comes in to de-escalate the situation by greeting Franklin as a friend. This changes the dynamic from a stand-off to a more diplomatic talk inside the Richards’ home. Reed confronts Xavier and Magneto about the weird antics of the mutant populace and Krakoa and berates them a bit about how they act superior to everyone. Erik retorts that they ARE superior, while Charles merely states that they’re the next step in evolution and their actions are always in support of mutant preservation so that mutants, like Franklin, can be protected. Sue finds that to be a bit pretentious and thinks it’s a bit segregationist to cut off Franklin from his family. Magneto implores Franklin to join the rest of his mutant family on Krakoa but he gets a bit too close to him which triggers Sue’s mama bear instincts and starts a fight between the FF members and Magneto and Xavier.
While the grown-ups argue, Kate and Franklin slip away to talk like normal people. Franklin confides in Kitty that he hates that no one seems to care what he thinks on the matter. Kitty assures him she does and asks him what he wants and says she’ll support him either way.
With Kitty and Franklin quietly leaving the FF’s house without telling anyone Johnny Storm assumes Franklin was being kidnapped and he comes to take Franklin back with him. He’s promptly swatted away by Wolverine and the Marauders (Storm, Bishop, Iceman, and Pyro). Cue the X-Men / Fantastic Four obligatory hero fight scene and a funny joke about the X-Men having diplomatic immunity.
In the midst of the fight, Reed attacks Professor X’s logic as to why they want Franklin to come to Krakoa, after all he’s almost legally a man and can make his own decisions. Xavier’s insistence on Franklin’s pilgrimage shows that he has a timetable and an agenda. The fight ends when Franklin makes a beeline for the Krakoan portal but ends up not being able to pass through it. It turns out that when Reed was running tests on Franklin, he put a device that masks his mutant DNA on him. Franklin yells at Reed for violating his trust and everyone returns to their respective homes. Later that day, Franklin vents to his sister Valeria about how their father has been messing around with them without their permission (apparently he put trackers on them in the FF book). The two decide to run away to Krakoa and sneak aboard the Marauders’ ship. They not only get discovered but the ship wasn’t even going back to Krakoa and then Doctor Doom shows up and captures the boat, ending the issue.
X-Men Fantastic Four #1 is a great start to the exploration of Franklin Richards’ mutant heritage in the Dawn of X era. In fact, the issue is just flat-out amazing, bringing us all the action, X-Men / Richards family drama, and battling of ideology any FF / X-Men / Marvel fan could ask for. I’m glad that Chip Zdarsky has Mr. Fantastic bring up the whole cult-y aspect of Krakoa and the current state of mutants in the Marvel Universe. I mean I’m digging X-Men right now but the whole cult thing is a bit weird. I certainly wouldn’t want my teenage son going to the equivalent of Mutant Woodstock / X-Men Spring Break. Zdarsky also does a great job of characterizing Reed Richards, displaying how he’s one of the smartest minds in the Marvel Universe but also inhumanly oblivious to the emotional needs of his family.
I was a bit confused when Chip Zdarsky was picked to write this series. I thought Hickman would be addressing the question he brought up back in House of X #1. This is not an argument against Zdarsky being on the book I just thought this particular story was on Hickman’s personal mutant to-do list. Having read the issue, I believe Chip Zdarsky is definitely the man for this book. I already knew he had some pretty great Fantastic Four work under his belt (Marvel Two-In-One) but wasn’t sure what he’d do with the Hickman era X-Men. He definitely hit it out of the park with this. This book was Fan-Freaking-Tastic, jam packed with references to the original X-Men / Fantastic Four team-up comics, (Magneto’s “M” costume from the eighties), and just some old fashioned Marvel goodness. While the Dodsons do a lot better with covers and pin-ups in my opinion I still enjoyed them on the main art duties for this book. It’s by no means bad art but it did leave me wanting more of those gorgeous covers. What else can I say but Make Mine Marvel / Make Mine Mutants / Make Mine Zdarsky!
Verdict 8/10 X-Men fighting the Fantastic Four
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