Bad News: Fraction Leaves ‘FF’ and ‘Fantastic Four'; Good News: Karl Kesel Returns To ‘Fantastic Four’
"It sucks for me, too" is all Matt Fraction had to say about the news that he's prematurely concluding his well regarded work on Marvel's Fantastic Four and FF titles, as revealed in the publisher's solicitations for November (which will be published later today but were sent to the comics press early yesterday). The demands of Fraction's work on Inhumanity and Inhumans are such that "something had to give," according to editor Tom Brevoort. The news is a serious bummer.
Replacing Fraction on FF will be writer Lee Allred, who according to solicits will co-write with his brother, series artist Michael Allred. That FF will remain indelibly Allred is good news, as is the fact that Fantastic Four will welcome back cartoonist Karl Kesel, whose contributions to Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo's work on the title circa 2002-2005 helped make it a classic run. Kesel will collaborate with ongoing artist Mark Bagley.
Both books will unfold per Fraction's original plans. "[Fraction] will continue to be credited on both titles for the duration of the storyline, as he’s contributed to each issue in a material way, but the heavy lifting is going to be done by Karl and Lee respectively," Brevoort told CBR.
As mentioned above, that comics veteran Kesel is returning to Fantastic Four is, well, fantastic. He's one of superhero comics' most underrated but consistently strong writers. His Kirby-infused run on Superboy with Tom Grummett (starting from here) must be among the best work anyone's ever done with that character, and Fantastic Four writer Mark Waid has credited Kesel, who inked the beloved Waid and Wieringo series, with being an inspiration, sounding board and guiding force for that revered run. Kesel has also written Fantastic Four here and there, and is in a way a quote out-of-the-box choice for the Marvel of today. It'd be nice to see him continue past Fraction's intended conclusion.
Although he's spent much of the last few years collaborating with other writers, FF artist Michael Allred has little to prove in that area. The creator of Madman and Red Rocket 7 is obviously equipped to take the reins from the departing Fraction, and he'll guide FF to its intended conclusion with his brother Lee, with whom the artist previously worked on his standout issue of DC Comics' Solo.
"My big bro Lee Allred has already scripted FF #12-13, as well as mapping out the arc's conclusion in #16. Brilliant, brilliant stuff!" said Michael Allred via Twitter. We are in very good hands thru a killer cool conclusion on FF."
Fraction's last issues of FF and Fantastic Four will be those going on sale this month. More information about the contents of Allred and Kesel's first issues can be found in Marvel's solicitations for September, which we'll publish today at 12pm EST.