Normally I would be hard pressed to say anything bad about something written by Brian Michael Bendis, but apparently I’ve just found the exception that proves the rule. This is not to say that Ultimate Fantastic Four was bad, it just lacked spark. In Marvel’s continuing line of Ultimate Universe stories this volume establishes the background of the Fantastic Four. The four main characters–Richard Reed, Susan Reed (nee Storm), Johnny Storm, and Ben Grim–are introduced. Richard and Ben are mismatched high school friends, the brain and the jock. When Richard is tapped by the government to work for the specialized technology development group he escapes to New York where he meets Sue and her brother Johnny, and his mentor Professor Storm, Sue’s father. Richard’s ongoing experiments with accessing alternate dimensions ends up going horribly wrong and alters the Fantastic Four, giving them superhuman powers–Richard is elastic man, Susan can turn herself invisible, Johnny is the human torch, and Ben (visiting his old friend by chance) is turned into stone. This is as good an introduction to the Fantastic Four canon as any, but I can’t say that I’m desperate for the next volume. The art has Kubert’s usual elegant style and gorgeous color palate.