Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Mirco Pierfederici
Publisher: Crossgen via Marvel
Ruse is the second title to come out of Crossgen via Marvel, alongside Mike Carey’s Sigil. In a nutshell I suppose it would be: “Sherlock-Holmes-esque” with a bit of sci-fi and fantasy, but I don’t think it’s fair to call it such.
Waid does take a very similar approach though, opening with a crime and then excitingly displays the main characters solving it. It all has the Victorian feel to it, but Waid hams it up a notch. He takes the niche and has a bit of fun with his detective, perhaps more so than Conan-Doyle did with his Holmes. The fabled sleuth Simon Archard is the focal point of the story, but it is made explicit that his ‘sidekick’ Emma Bishop is more formidable than himself.
For an opening issue it is great. We get a good feel for the characters, era, and style that Waid has put across (Pierfederici’s pencils are also great), and we have our typical cliffhanger ending in classic detective fashion. It’s definitely readable, and should the caper span out as nicely throughout the next issues as it has in the first, it’ll be something new and different worth following.
-Good character chemistry, witty and clever writing
-Chiseled, shadowy pencils that work well with the era
-Potential to peter-out depending on the unfolding of the case
Artist: Steve Epting
Johnathan Hickman can do no wrong. If you haven’t figured this out yet, you need to pick up virtually anything he has written and find out for yourself. Personally? His extremely outstanding Secret Warriors has been unequivocally (that’s a lie, he’s got competition from Carey’s X-Men Legacy) the most consistently exciting comic on the shelves. It is a shame it has to end. But do not fret, he has his ink elsewhere: FF for one, and he will have a part in the new Ultimate universe reboot. But as for the issue at hand.
FF now stands for Future Foundation instead of Fantasic Four. After the events of the arc(s) leading up to the name change, the family in blue saw the death of founding member, jokester, and some may say the glue (alongside Grimm) that held the family together: Johnny Storm. With this obviously came a big change. Change in name, change in surroundings and perhaps change in scope. Admittedly I haven’t been a long time reader of Fantastic Four, just a few arcs here and there and the stuff Carey did for the Ultimate Universe, but I don’t think the change is something that will take time getting used to. In just one issue Hickman manages to bring Spiderman in, (which might seem rushed if you didn’t read the precursor issues where Johnny gives his pre-dead blessing to Parker), set the new angle/precedent for the FF, and present them with a very serious worldly AND otherworldly threat. And of course a twist.
Hickman really is a great writer to give the Richards family to. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of grand-scope he comes up with for Reed and how it compares to and/or differs with what he has been doing so damn well with Nick Fury. Both are characters with immense talent, immense responsibility, strict codes of honour and respect, yet both are very different men. Both also have a lot to lose, just in different ways.
Hickman has started FF off on a sensational foot, let’s hope it is smooth sailing ahead.
-Grand scope, great ideas
-Large, interesting cast
-Always a good twist