Fantastic Four: The Forever Gate

Fantastic Four: The Forever Gate
Fantastic Four v7 The Forever Gate review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 978-1-3029-2048-7
  • Volume No.: 7
  • Release date: 2021
  • UPC: 9781302920487
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

There was a time when the Fantastic Four were the cornerstone of the Marvel universe, yet that hasn’t been the case since long before the 21st century. Dan Slott’s run to date has shown flashes of the conceptual wonder that characterised the series at its best, but the moments are sporadic, rarely sustained. Empyre connected with a crossover, but The Forever Gate is a big step up. Not only does it feature the widescreen action presenting an unimaginably powerful new threat, it’s packed with small, thoughtful moments, and begins with a totally delightful chapter hitting all the correct beats of what we want the Fantastic Four to be. Mystery, threat and resolution are supplied in a taut opening thirty pages that also feature Doctor Doom and a couple of great character moments epicly drawn by R. B. Silva, delivering the power, energy and character reactions. Plus he redesigns the FF uniforms and there’s a new purpose provided for the Fantastic Four while opening their remit to the entire universe. What’s not to like?

Silva is the continuing artist, and provides maximum effort to ensure we realise the FF live in a world of scientific wonder beyond our comprehension, a mission he carries on throughout The Forever Gate. Silva is the star turn, but other artists provide a few pages at a time, the exception being Zé Carlos on the final two chapters. He’s good, but not spectacular.

The actual Forever Gate is an opener of possibilities, and Slott exploits those throughout the book. It’s a masterful performance, fooling readers again and again by metaphorically whipping away the carpet. He returns the Future Foundation from space, the Griever from Fourever and the Watcher from oblivion; provides a meaty guest slot for the Silver Surfer; repurposes Franklin Richards, and offers smart moments for most members of what becomes a massive cast. However, the title story is more than just a parade of character moments. It’s a repository of big ideas meaningfully explored that thrills from start to finish.

For four of the six chapters here The Forever Gate is near enough five star material, but the final two tie in with the King in Black crossover, and are ordinary. Slott doesn’t seem to have any great enthusiasm for the idea of the Venom symbiote’s God arriving on Earth, and forces supernatural horror into a series where it ought to have no place. Slott’s one real FF-based idea is Sue Storm vehemently set against Sky and Johnny Storm’s relationship, which comes across as especially judgemental about something that’s none of her business, and so artificially generated melodrama. Worse still, there are some dramatic changes, but readers here have to pick up the King In Black trade for the resolution of what’s happened to the FF. The epilogue’s nice, though. Let’s hope the thrills continue in The Bride of Doom.