Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol 1 / The Fantastic : 3 of 5

Since I recently enjoyed reading Ultimate Spider-Man, I thought it would be fun to check-out this alternate, updated origin of the Fantastic Four, especially since I've heard this series is the best of Marvel's Ultimate line. Of course, I kept my eyes open on PaperBack Swap and got a copy in great condition, and although I'm not going to make this series a priority, I certainly was intrigued by both the artwork and the story! Starting with the birth of baby Reed Richards, there's a series of scenes that highlight the awkward childhood of brainy Reed (and how he's protected from bullies by Ben Grimm), and how he's eventually discovered at a science fair and asked to join a genius think tank at the Baxter Building (which looks spectacular), where he meets Susan and Johnny Storm (as well as the future Doctor Doom). The rocket launch and cosmic rays have been thrown out this time, and instead it's Reed's experiment in dimensional travel that backfires and causes their mutation, which is pretty intense since each one is teleported to a random spot in the process! As they discover their powers, the story does a nice job of making it an emotional experience (seeing poor Reed wake up as a pile of rubber was kind of sad). The artwork is wonderful, with particularly interesting angles (featuring lots of "crane shots" looking down into large scenes), great colors and crisp lines. The Mole Man is the villain of the story, but while he definitely looks disgusting, the final battle with his minions is a bit weak, especially since the rest of the book is so good. It's always fun to read re-imaginings of great characters, especially when they're as cool as Ultimate Fantastic Four!