Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrator: Mike McKone
Publication year: 2006
Fantastic Four: the Life Fantastic is a bind up of Fantastic Four #533-535, Wedding Special, Dinner with Dr. Doom, and Death in the family. I didn’t read all of those. I only read Fantastic Four #533-535. So the rating that I give is actually only for those three issues. I’ve never read Fantastic Four comic before. So yes, it’s a bit weird that I started out with these issues. I chose these particular issues because of Planet Hulk story arc. Apparently, these issues set as a prequel-ish for Planet Hulk. Planet Hulk story arc itself was recommended by a podcast. They say that it’s supposedly good. If I’m about to read it, I want to give it my all. I started from these prequel comics.
In Fantastic Four #533-535, Hydra planted a gamma bomb and the only one who could stop it is Bruce Banner. But something went wrong and the bomb exploded. The bomb affected Bruce Banner as Hulk and he went berserk. Reed Richards or Mister Fantastic then sent The Thing and Human Torch to stop the Hulk from destroying the city. Aside of that, Reed and Sue have their own problem regarding the custody of their children. I assume that the custody problem has already set up since previous issues and I didn’t read those. Therefore, I’ll only focus on the Hulk storyline.
I believe that the event on these issues serves to show us how invincible Hulk is. I also believe that they’ve done it well. At issue #533, we’ve shown that the gamma bomb exploded while Banner was still standing in front of it. Yet, he turned out unharmed physically. Mentally, he’s trapped in his own mind, repeating the moment when he turned into a monster. That’s worse than dying. Then, when The Thing couldn’t even stop the Hulk, Human Torch finally went Nova. He unleashed his most powerful flame blast. Again, Hulk turned out okay. It was almost like he couldn’t die which resulting in a depressing revelation. That maybe Bruce Banner is doomed to eternity to be a monster. That’s dark. Especially the flashbacks that Banner saw, those are also sad and depressing. Even though the Hulk is a monster, you can’t help but feel sorry for him. I like how these comics show another side of Bruce Banner that I’ve never known before. Hulk has been never the ‘superhero’ that I enjoyed reading or watching before. He wouldn’t be my first choice of Marvel’s characters. But these comics have definitely changed my mind.