Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules #3
By Matt Martin
Marvel Comics – James Sturm (w); Guy Davis (a)
I can’t say it enough times: this is exactly the sort of thing that I wish Marvel would spend more time publishing. They certainly should’ve devoted more time to promoting it, because I haven’t seen a more worthy project from them in quite a while.
Last time, Sturm’s re-imagining of Marvel’s first family focused on Sue Sturm. Therein, the more idyllic, adventurous life that she’s been known to live in the Marvel Universe was contrasted sharply by the harsh reality of the 1950s, complete with sexual repression and societal oppression. It ended sadly, with the famous team’s matriarch feeling like more than a bit of a failure, particularly in regards to the job that she had done raising her brother, Johnny.
This month’s issue follows the next logical step, not only centering on the teen angst-ridden Johnny, but also dealing with the culture of rage and rebellion that manifested amongst the youth of that era. Specifically, the issue introduces the followers of the Beat Generation authors (Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, et. al.) and Johnny’s reaction to their wild, uninhibited style of life.
And it completely works. I was just…well, enthralled, once again.
I find it increasingly hard to summarize plot details of this book, because frankly, there aren’t a lot of them. This issue, for example, doesn’t have a real cut-and-dry conflict; it’s all internal, mostly in Johnny himself, though it is filtered through the perspective of his worshipful best friend (whose obsession with Johnny borders on the homoerotic). The man that we know better as the Human Torch, a character who practically exudes self-confidence, is instead portrayed as a confused, directionless teenager, lashing out at his upbringing and place in the world.