Review: FF #17 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

Eliot Cole reviews for Bleeding Cool;

FF 17 is a one-shot story, a ‘day in the life of’ Peter Parker and Johnny Storm living together.  One shots always seem to be a difficult and rare thing in superhero continuity, the last book I could rely on for a good done-in-one story was Bryan Q. Miller’s run on pre-Nu52 Batgirl. I say all this because beyond any recommendation I give you, a one-shot is worth a look.

Hickman’s voice for Parker is so spot on, that you’d be hard pushed to look past him as a writer for ASM if that gig ever got dropped by Dan Slott. Although, the scale of the book might hurt him there, as I don’t think I’ve ever read a JH book that doesn’t involve haughty theories and ideals, or a trip into space. Perhaps this could result in the DnA problem that tanked Heroes For Hire.

So, the book? This is pretty much a perfect comic book.

Nick Dragotta was an unknown to me before his run on FF. His Riverdale meets 616 is a wonderfully Marcos Martin-ish approach with the bonus of a fine line in background MJ. This is an artist whose characterisations really do bring you into the story, and also accentuates the humour in the right way. Chris Sotomayer’s colour work is integral to this style, though.

Page 13 shows all of the strengths of this artistic team in full flight. Over the previous page and this, the team goes silent, and still brings great timing with the comedy. Whether you admired the earlier efforts of Mr. Hickman’s silent issue, it works so well here. This and page 12 work as a great contrast to the anti-Johnny that’s gone throughout the issue, and that’s why I pick them as a good example.

We’re going to get a little spoilerific here, so apologies.

In the first panel we see the beautiful symmetry and absurdity of the scene, with the courting of *both* law enforcement ‘officers’. This is just *so* clever and joyous it could be a still from Community. Still the silence is keeping the narrative form and ‘punchiness’ of the script throughout. All the same, you’ve got to love horse wooing.

Panel two doesn’t need describing, obviously, but there’s some continuation of the Storm/Jane closeness in there, but more importantly we’re seeing that joy, again. There’s a sense of glee in the creation of this whole issue, this perfectly represents this feeling in its entirety.

The last panel is a perfect example of Dragotta’s facial brilliance and the punchline to the whole two page treatment. Jane and Storm are looking on in perfect character and every damned onlooker is cheering. It’s phenomenal. And you’re laughing and you’re smiling and you’re happy.

I experience comic books on an emotional level (like a couple of the reviewers I’ve read in the Bleeding Cool Review Room) and when I read comic books like this, or the glorious Batgirl valentine issue from last year, I feel such love and happiness with the medium.

It’s life-comic-affirming.

Obviously I’m totally in love with this issue. This really is an example of a creative team that really appear to work in total harmony. Perhaps I love it because I’m high off the Daredevil fumes of the past year, but this is just something special. Finally, we are also seeing how adept Jonathan Hickman is at the more comedic elements of writing, just more maturation on a great writer.

I definitely recommend buying this issue.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.