Marvel 2-In-1, Vol. 2: Next of Kin
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Declan Shalvey, Ramon K. Perez
Sometime during the course of Marvel Two-In-One by Chip Zdarsky, the original premise had to change as Marvel relaunched the Fantastic Four title, bringing back Reed, Sue and the Future Foundation kids. The original story of the Thing and Human Torch searching the multiverse for their family shifted into the two of them dealing with the return of their family and the reason they had left in the first place. The change was handled as well as could be, but the sense of loss and stakes never amount to what they were beforehand as all of the most important events need to happen in another series.
In this set, Marvel collects issues 7-12 with the series but actually begins with the Annual that focuses more on Doctor Doom and a counsel of Reeds. It was a story that felt out of place with the rest of the series, though I’m glad it’s included. The rest of the book picks up with Johnny and Ben in another universe, their powers leaving them (eventually totally) while being pursued by both the Mad Thinker (trying to replace the Fantastic Four) and a Spider-Man/Mad Max mashup intent on eliminating them. One of the best parts of this trade was when Johnny and Ben (without powers) need to fight a whole new Fantastic Four group, but use their experience with the abilities to come out on top.
Once Sue and Reed return, the entire premise is quickly shoved aside for more emotional dialogue driven stories. First up is Ben asking why he was left behind, before ending with Johnny dealing with his whole family lying to them. As a whole, the book was fine but a bit of a letdown after the excellent first volume. On art duties, while I loved Declan Shalvey on Thunderbolts, I didn’t as much care for his work here on the annual, much preferring the Ramon K. Perez pages consistency throughout the rest of the issues.