Tom Scioli's Grand Design (Fantastic Four: Grand Design Review)
FANTASTIC FOUR: GRAND DESIGN
Writer/Artist: Tom Scioli
Editor: Chris Robinson
Executive Editor: Tom Brevoort
Editor in Chief: C.B. Cebulski
Looking back at my childhood, my love of superheroes would have never come to be if I hadn’t come across the 90’s gems; X-Men and Fantastic Four animated series. Both families have always held special places in my heart but my lack of knowledge on their history definitely had me feeling like I belonged on the outskirts of fandom. Sure, a casual drink and some scrolling through Wikipedia could give me the background to catch up, but there is a lot of history for both these series, and it would have been great to see it play out across the panels. By some sort of design, it’s as if Marvel knew of my woes and Ed Piskor had begun his run on X-Men: Grand Design, condensing decades of stories into six issues in a way that made them connect. This series was such a success for me that when I learned of the announcement that Tom Scioli would be giving Fantastic Four a similar treatment, I had to get it.
Normally I would be breaking down what goes on in a story, but when you have decades upon decades packed into two issues, it’s a little more tricky. From time travel, celestial gods, Inhumans, and Namor stuff, there is just so much going on in sometimes twenty miniature panels per page. None of that really matters though as you just get swept away in Scioli’s Kirby-esque style of art that takes you back in time, feeling like you are there at the beginning to witness these awesome adventures. It wasn’t until towards the end of the series that the story had me doing some double takes as Scioli took the Fantastic Four’s history off the main road and into something else entirely.
Much like the cosmic rays that transformed our explorers, Scioli’s story quickly becomes something unexpected and fantastic as he chooses to take his woven narrative in a direction that combines stories from Marvel’s out of continuity series throughout the decades and blends them together into his telling. It for sure wasn’t what I was expecting after seeing Piskor’s work on X-Men: Grand Design, but despite this, I found myself just as happy by the time I finished the second issue. A continuity condensed book is great and I got that from my mutants, but Scioli gave something for me that was a celebration of moments I would have never known about, and he did it in a way that worked just as well as X-Men: Grand Design. Scioli did a fantastic job of continuing where Piskor started in celebrating the history of some of Marvel’s most famous characters. To have taken the history of the Fantastic Four and begin to compile that into a couple of issues, doing both the art and writing is one hell of a project and I think this one discovery you don’t want to miss out on.