There were some really fantastic comics out today. Uncanny X-Men v3 #5 was great, both stories in A+X #7 were fabulous, and Young Avengers #4, FF #6 and Journey Into Mystery #651 all just blew me out of the water. I want to try to talk about all of them, but first I so, so SO want to talk about FF #6.
First, some quick context for those who are unfamiliar with the book. FF is the secondary Fantastic Four title. In the current series the original Fantastic Four - Reed Richards, Sue Storm-Richards, Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm, plus Reed and Sue’s kids Franklin and Valeria — have gone off to have a family vacation through time and space. They planned to be gone for only four minutes (yay, time travel), but just as insurance against something going wrong they each picked someone to replace them for those four minutes. This being comics, of course the Fantastic Four diidn’t come back in four minutes, and now the replacement FF: Scott Lang (Ant-Man), Jennifer Walters (She Hulk), Darla Deering (Ms. Thing) and Medusa are running the Future Foundation and School. The school has about a dozen students who are a mix of mutants, humans, moloids (an underground race) and Uhari (an aquatic race).
What I want to talk about though is the side-plot in today’s FF #6 where it’s revealed that one of the Moloid students is a transgender girl. It wasn’t announced before hand, and it’s not played up as huge, earth-shaking thing. There’s no Very Special Issue. The whole plot line takes up a page and a half of the issue, and that page and a half is perfect. Funny and sweet and accepting and everything I would want for a kid coming out in what’s already an incredibly diverse community. When it’s entirely accepted that most of the student-body isn’t human, why would it be so much harder for the kids and adults to accept that one of them is also transgender. And so, it isn’t.
Tong: Brothers. I have this thing, and now you will have it as well. It will be ours, and we will find out what ownership of this thing means. I have a girl inside of me. I tried to be a boy like you, but there in no boy here. And I do not wish to be what I am not any longer. This is unexpected? It is unexpected. And scary. And wonderful. It is new. Who I am…is new. My brothers: you have a sister. Are you still my brothers? Are you still my family?
Korr: Love my Tong.
Tong: I love you too. [crying] Oh, I love you all so very much.
At this point I had to stop reading just so I could clutch the book to my chest and go, “Ohhhh,” and grin, and grin, and grin. Then I kept reading and it just got better. On the next page we briefly see the response of the adult replacement FF members to the new Moloid status quo.
Scott: And while it looks like the Yancy Street Gang hacked you with the goal of being embarrassing, we need to make you secure and find any other digital incursions.
Darla: I…have kind of a thing happening at Carnegie Hall today. I can’t—
Scott: Wait. [He turns around. The Moloids walk by holding hands, Tong proudly leading them in her pink dress.] Is that a thing we’re doing now?
Darla: Good for her.
Jennifer [smiling]: Okay.
— From FF v2 #6 by Matt Fraction, art by Joe Quinones
And that’s it. That’s the big reveal. I’m sure in future issues we’ll see a bit more of the reactions of the various cast members to Tong’s announcement, but for this issue, that’s it. The kids go off to play and the adults get on with their business. No one gets visibly upset or concerned. Scott’s somewhat confused, but not in a judgmental more in an overwhelmed one. Scott’s still trying to get a hang of this whole running a school thing, and he’s not having his best of days.
There’s a lot else to love in this issue, which picks up half a dozen plot threads and character interactions and balances them seamlessly. FF is one of the best books Marvel is publishing right now. I’d rank it with Hawkeye, Captain Marvel and Young Avengers as one of the most smart and innovative books to come out of Marvel in years. It has a wonderfully distinct style, a great sense of humour and is written in a way that should be suitable and satisfying for kids and adults alike. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
And now it’s a mainstream comic from one of the Big Two publishers with an out, transgender adolescent cast member. How awesome is that?!