[A capsule review on a blog that doesn’t do capsule reviews]

Alan Davis is one of my very few favorite lighters of the superhero flame. Especially considering those working today, no one puts as much details, as much knowledge of a character’s history into a run, but he also manages to dash every character’s facial expression with soul while taking their past and fashioning a new character from it.

Take his mid-2000s mini-series Fantastic Four: The End, as an example. Because I recently bought it and read it. Written after a very awesome (and under-ordered but now very collectible) two issue mini-series giving a finale to DC Comic’s Legion of Superheroes universe in Superboy’s Legion [stellar stuff!], as well as his very successful and still-super awesome Justice League Adventure: The Nail and Another Nail, this mini-series once again sees Alan Davis writing a very worthy imaginative end to a superhero universe.

Alan Davis, simply put, is a man who knows how to move a superhero through time. Whereas a lot of writers and readers these days worry about the style, and although Alan Davis has enough style to spare, he is much more concerned about making characters that everyone recognizes, yes, but also that are interesting enough to follow into the future as well. With a linework that sometimes recalls workmanlike pencilers such as Rick Leonardi, he can reach for the realism and absurdism of Brian Bolland and capture it whenever he seems to want it enough.

But that isn’t really what makes him special. It’s the details here, like Iron Man moving on from a single person to a computer consciousness that possesses robots on every planet and space station in the solar system, leaving them on auto-pilot mid-sentence. It’s The Thing getting some revenge on Johnny and smiling menacingly while his kids pummel their uncle with ice cream cones that let us know this is actually how these characters would end, you know, provided that editorial interference and an irrational devotion to the character’s original state never happened. Johnny Storm/Human Torch gets to grow up and lead the Avengers, T’Challa/Black Panther becomes a king of much more than his small African nation (and remains impeccably written), Namor keeps hitting on Susan Storm, and there’s actual tension because Reed has spent so much time in his laboratory that he didn’t notice Sue cut her hair incredibly short.

And those are just details in panels. The story itself is even more magnificent.

All in all, Fantastic Four: The End deserves the highest honor I can think of. It continues, and may, in fact, end the Great American Novel that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee started. And it lets the characters rest peacefully as seekers of paradise on whatever planet they find themselves. We know that they’ll keep trying. We know that their hardships make them appreciate what they have more. But, more importantly, we also know that when Death comes it is pointless to be anything but ready.