Updated 10:52pm ET
FF #12 follows the events that took place within Fantastic Four #600, with Val teleporting the Future Foundation out of harm's way. As Annihilus' forces swarmed the Baxter Building in an attempt to gain control of the Negative Zone Portal, Val hit the fail-safe jumping the kids to a safe place -- or not!
But just where did they go?
The issue opens with the top three floors of the Baxter Building merged into the side of a mountain. The children are unaware of their present location, sans Val who informs everyone they have arrived at Uncle Doom's!
As the opening pages of last week's Fantastic Four #600 revealed, Nathaniel Richards, father of Reed Richards and grandfather to Val and Franklin, advised the new ruler of Latveria, Kristoff, to welcome its latest guest - an alternate universe Reed Richards. This alternate Mr. Fantastic has captured and enslaved Doctor Doom after a battle on Attilan (see FF #9). The aftermath of that same battle saw Nathaniel transported to Latveria not to help Doom, but, he says, to help this alternate Reed Richards(?!). (The short of it: Doom has sided with the Future Foundation/FF to aid them in defeating the alternate Reed's who have brought about the War among the Universal Inhumans as a way to return to their own dimensions).
From there, the children are brought to the Castle where we learn that Nathaniel was the one behind Val bringing the Future Foundation to Latveria. Nathaniel is aware of the pact made between Val and Doom (where Doom previously agreed to help Val defeat Mister Fantastic - actually members of the "Council of Reeds") as all "hope lies in Doom!"
Next, the plan (assuming my reading is correct) is to gather their forces and return to NYC where a battle rages among the Avengers, Fantastic Four and the forces of the Kree. I'm also assuming that this alternate version of Reed (there are four) needs to return there, as to access the Negative Zone to return to his own universe.
They make there way back to the translocated floors of Baxter Building, and as they are about to access the jump-gate,
Franklin Val takes a moment to grab something. She goes off on her own, presses her hand against a wall which reveals - ?? (see below).
As they all prepare to make their way through the gate, Doom's collar needs to come off as they will need his power! However, the alternate Reed won't do it until they reach the other side.
A decent follow up issue, at least storywise, to Fantastic Four #600 as Jonathan Hickman adds another layer to his penultimate plan with the War of Four Cities. I do fear that new readers coming off of FF #600 might be a tad bit lost as, not being a regular reader myself, I needed to hit up Wiki, as well as re-read FF issues #9-11 to get a complete understanding. I fear as well that there is not much for loyal readers to take away as the issue is filled with much exposition; basically only learning that the FF and co. are headed back to NYC - at least I think.
I wasn't exactly sure why the alternate Reed captured Doom in the first place and went to Latveria. Likewise, I was confused as to if they were indeed going back to NYC to help, as mention of going "in" and crossing the "threshold" was made, but nothing more. As far as I know they could be going to the alternate Reed's own Universe. However, there was mention of a battle by Doom, which most certainly must be what we saw take place in Fantastic Four #600. Regarding what
Franklin Val went back for, at first I thought it was the Ultimate Nullifier, but upon closer examination it seems to resemble more of a communicator? It does look as if Franklin Val presses a button, to which we see the device turn on and glow. Could be an issue I missed.
I suppose the issue was more a recap for regular readers, but not so much for newbies. As I've stated in previous FF reviews, Hickman's stuff tends to do resemble a roller coaster ride. A really interesting issue is followed by a not-so-much as interesting issue or two, which causes -- at least me -- to drop the book; however, when I come back to it, I'm lost --but then need to pick up the subsequent back issues. I suppose that's on me for not sticking with the book in the first place.
Regarding the art, I found it a bit off, as it's a striking turn in direction compared to previous FF issues. FF #12 has a heavy animated look to it, as I suppose to reflect the Future Foundation being center stage, but for me it was a turn off. I prefer my art, much like in previous issues, to be more of photorealistic tone. Overall, it did give a dark and moody feel against a white cold backdrop, so I suppose it worked for the story in hand.
All in all things seem to be coming together rather nicely, and I'll be sure to not miss another single issue.