Review by Frank Plowright
The problem with Reckoning War is that most of the small moments are smart, or emotionally sympathetic, but the bigger picture is just another dose of superhero cosmic slop. As disclosed in Part I, years ago the Watchers made a mistake in too freely advancing a race that rampaged through the universe before destroying themselves. The survivors have hidden away for millennia plotting revenge, and this is it. Dan Slott is a good writer, but even he can’t differentiate the big picture from so many other similar events, although if this is the first of its type you’ve read, then it will stand up well, with considerable drama and a few surprises.
An example of the smaller moments being so clever is the collection of an armoured suit, most of which has been used in sections by assorted Marvel characters. Another example is the way Slott’s pulled together elements from throughout his Fantastic Four run to feed into the current events, with use of the Forever Gate interesting, but Doctor Doom’s involvement the most impressive. His casual dismissal of a bested enemy is spectacularly good.
While there are concerns about Slott’s efforts, some events beyond his control ensure Reckoning War isn’t quite as good as it might be. Why couldn’t the entire story be released as a complete edition? Not somewhere down the line, which will surely happen, but in the first instance as in the UK? Then there’s the matter of three artists on four chapters. Rachael Stott (sample art) and Andrea Di Vito slot together well enough, and Farid Karami is good, but his approach is different and no-one seems to have told him that the Human Torch is now supposed to be radiating such heat that when he’s out of his containment suit it’s difficult to be anywhere near him.
Cafu draws the final chapter, which is set apart as Slott leaves the Fantastic Four by reinforcing what their world is like when viewed through the eyes of an outsider. There seems a tick box element to this. It’s notable that the FF’s extended family may include aliens, but there’s no human of colour, and now there is. Had they been integrated a little sooner in the run it might not transmit as casually as it does, but a casual introduction can still be rectified by meaningful ongoing appearances.
Reckoning War is okay, but for something promoted as so many years in the making, it’s the moments conceived relatively shortly beforehand that resonate. She-Hulk’s part hardly lives up to the dire warning that sparked the entire event, and in spreading the net as far as he can Slott needs too much shorthand. At the end of the day everything is wrapped up logically and neatly, but without any great sense of the epic. It’s more a restoration arc than anything else.
In the UK Reckoning War is published complete in a single volume.