First off, Ryan Stegman does an amazing job on the pencils for this issue. When I first heard Stegman would be joining Hickman on FANTASTIC FOUR, I was definitely excited; but I didn't expect it to be this great.
Stegman's pencils in this issue are truly stunning, and fans of his will not be disappointed by what they see here. The pretty art is also paired with a really interesting story by Hickman that references events we saw during Millar's run on FANTASTIC FOUR.
If you've been reading the FANTASTIC FOUR series by Hickman then there's a good chance you're going to feel a really big pay-off when you read this issue. Hickman takes the reader back to the events immediately following Johnny Storm's death; opening the issue with a full page spread of Galactus' corpse. You might recall seeing Galactus' corpse in FANTASTIC FOUR #583, when Silver Surfer confronts Reed Richards and asks him why the future Galactus' body had been buried in New York City.
The narration in this issue is good, but you also need to already have an understanding of what's going on to truly understand the circumstances. Having a book that is this entertaining and that can make you think this much is good, and I think that's something Hickman did very well. He writes in such huge terms, he has these big ideas that are so vast and go way beyond what's in any other comic. I think he executed it very feel.
If you like action, time travel, suspense and cosmic mystery then there's no way you won't be pleased with what you see unfold in this issue of FANTASTIC FOUR: not only does it contain all of these things, but it's a great self-contained story that is written in a way that ends with a lot of open doors. Hickman gives the future writer of this series a plethora of different avenues to take, and I think that's an example of great comic book writing.
The issue is a little bit complicated, so if you haven't been reading the series there is a good chance you won't understand what is happening without doing a little bit of research first. I think Hickman could have written in a way that was a tiny bit easier for a new reader to understand, or the editor on the series could have made a point to reference previous issues -- it would have certainly been helpful.
Aside from being complicated and hard to understand (unless you have been reading FANTASTIC FOUR prior to Hickman's run) I think this is one of the best issue of this series so far. Hickman manages to write a story that is exciting, action packed and chock full of different avenues and possibilities a future writer can take -- all in a self-contained issue. Although the last page of the book is "the end," the readers gets the sense that this is only the beginning; and that feeling is what gets people to buy the next issue. Paired with beautiful art by Stegman, this issue of FANTASTIC FOUR answers a lot of questions, but leaves you scratching your head.