Fantastic Four: Full Circle is an original graphic novel published by Marvel Comics in association with Abrams ComicArts. It’s written and illustrated by Alex Ross, colored by Ross with Josh Johnson, and lettered by Ariana Maher. The Fantastic Four are settling in for the night when a mysterious being breaks into the Baxter Building. Said being is carrying a plague made of anti-matter, which leads Mister Fantastic to a grim conclusion: they came from the dangerous dimension known as the Negative Zone. The Four travel into the Zone to unravel the mystery surrounding the invader, encountering enemies old and new along the way.
What makes Full Circle such an interesting prospect is that it’s the first full graphic novel Ross has written in addition to illustrating. Ross has cemented his status as a living legend over the years, with his photorealistic art gracing everything from variant covers to classic stories like Marvels and Kingdom Come. It’s the former from where he draws inspiration; Full Circle is thoroughly steeped in the Fantastic Four’s history, particularly the classic story “This Man…This Monster!,” which serves as a key plot point. Ross also deserves props for crafting a story that longtime Marvel fans and new readers can enjoy.
But the real draw of Full Circle is the depiction of the Four. Ross understands that the Four are a family first and a team second, so his script plays on the different dynamics, whether it’s Reed and Sue’s marriage or Ben and Johnny’s brotherly bickering. This also extends to their various skills. Reed utilizes his intellect to save the day, and the Four leap into action on his word. Sue is the heart of the team, defusing arguments between the others and having tender moments with Reed. Johnny’s his usual hotheaded, wisecracking self. And Ben will clobber bad guys one moment and have an existential crisis the next.
The art in Full Circle is up to Ross’ usual standard, resulting in some immensely gorgeous images. It opens with a two-page spread recapping the origin of the Fantastic Four and dives right into the action. The entire graphic novel is full of eye-popping art, including the Four’s new uniforms, which not only have the classic black and blue look but a shiny sheen. When the Four enter the Negative Zone, it’s depicted as a seemingly endless void—which is what one would expect from a place called “The Negative Zone.” When Annihilus appears, he literally towers over the Four, scooping up some of the Zone’s native life and dropping it into his gaping maw. And one scene has a mass of unholy creatures that seem to be formed out of nothing but teeth and spikes. Ross and Johnson’s colors bring all this to life, taking on a psychedelic bent the further the Four go into the Zone. Maher’s lettering also shifts from standard white and black to purple and black, resulting in a trippy experience.
Fantastic Four: Full Circle delivers a visually stunning story of Marvel’s First Family, as Alex Ross flexes a new set of storytelling muscles. It also marks a fitting launch for the Marvel Arts banner of graphic novels, as the Four have served as the bedrock of the Marvel Universe. Much like Fantastic Four: Antithesis or Fantastic Four: Life Story, this is a comic crafted with love for the characters it involves and a platform for the creators to push the boundaries of a superhero universe.
Fantastic Four: Full Circle is available wherever comics are sold.
Fantastic Four: Full Circle
Fantastic Four: Full Circle delivers a visually stunning story of Marvel’s First Family, as Alex Ross flexes a new set of storytelling muscles…this is a comic crafted with love for the characters it involves and a platform for the creators to push the boundaries of a superhero universe.