Episode #1: Trial By Fire
Original Airdate: September 2nd, 2006
Johnny is put on trial for crimes against the Kree
Empire by Ronan the Accuser after destroying the latest
in a line of Kree Sentries, alien robots that have been
observing the Fantastic Four. When Johnny chooses Reed
as his lawyer, Ben and Susan take the stand in Johnny’s
defense. But defending Johnny’s reckless behavior is
tougher than they thought, especially when the accused
is presumed guilty before the trial even starts.
Written by Bob Forward
Directed by Franck Miohel
Music by Noam Kaniel
Animation By Sunmin/ The Animation Studio/ Fantasta
Mr. Fantastic - Hiro Kanagawa
Invisible Woman - Lara Gilchrist
The Thing - Brian Dobson
Human Torch - Christopher Jacot
It’s been well over 10 years since we’ve seen The
Fantastic Four in their own show and with the group
riding of the popularity of their movie in every way
imaginable, it was only a matter of time before we were
bound to see them on the small screen once again.
The buzz for the show beforehand was optimistic, but
most people seemed oddly concerned with the ‘4’ being
spray painted on The Thing’s chest more than anything
else. Cartoon Network oddly premiered the third episode
first, meaning that the viewer’s first impression is a
standard episode, rather than one that was designed to
introduce the characters.
Marvel and co went for a different direction than what
we usually see from them this time around with more
anime inspired designs rather than the usual comic book
adaptations, and I think it looks quite sharp looking.
The animation falters here and there and the lip sync is
often sloppy but overall, I was quite impressed with the
shows designs and animation. I love the backgrounds – if
you’ve browsed through any of the previous sites I’ve
done here you’ll be aware I’m a sucker for a pretty
background and these are some of the coolest ones I’ve
seen since the old Batman: The Animated Series days.
They’re defiantly up their with Spider-Man: The New
Animated Series and X-Men: Evolution in terms of their
I found the casting to be solid. I fear Johnny may
become incredibly annoying over the course of the season
but he was fine here, and even got a few chuckles out of
me, especially with his Smurf lines. It’s not quite up
to Chris Evans standards, despite it’s clear attempts to
try but we’re a single episode in – I’ll give it the
benefit of the doubt. Reed and Sue both served their
roles well but the true highlight, as in the previous
series, was Ben. This version of Ben is simply rockin’
if you’ll pardon the pathetic pun. The voice, the
design, the attitude, this is classic Ben Grimm. I can’t
wait until they really start digging into Ben – I think
we could have the best version yet of the character on
our hands. The team dynamic is also great to see – it
reminds me of Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s run on the
Fantastic Four comic, which was a legendary run for
those of you who aren’t aware.
This episode doesn’t lend itself to a pilot; it really
does feel like the viewer has been thrown into the
middle of things. The villain of the piece isn’t
especially interesting, but the fight scene in which he
fought the Four was pretty well done. The most
interesting thing I found about the villains was them
mentioning the Skrulls towards the end of the episode –
could we be in for a Kree/Skrull war, especially as it’s
been confirmed that the Skrulls will be appearing in the
The ending with the picture on the back was classic
Johnny. Whilst this episode itself was nothing amazing,
it’s leaving me with high hopes as it has enormous
potential, which is more than I can say for the more
recent superhero cartoons, such as Teen Titans, The
Batman and even Justice League.
It’s true – the episode is no On Leather Wings, Night Of
The Lizard or Iron Man’s The Beast Within. But it
could’ve been a hell of a lot worse. The future looks
bright however, and I for one, can’t wait to see Dr.
Doom’s glorious return to TV next week. Stick around
everyone – I truly believe the best is yet to come!
Screw On Head - "Trial By Fire", the series premiere of Fantastic Four,
has a solid plot but is unfortunately bogged down by
some noticeably stiff animation.
I very much enjoyed our first outing with the Fantastic
Four in this well written adventure by Bob Forward, who
knits together a tightly plotted story. I'm pleased to
say I'm thrilled with the characterization of the
Fantastic Four in this episode. To be honest Sue's more
emotional moments didn't bother me at all. Johnny's
hair-do? I didn't bat an eye. On the whole I thought the
team's personalities and visuals worked very well
together. Thing has the perfect voice and character
design all around. While Reed seems a bit sheepish, I
thought he was otherwise spot-on as brilliant scientist
and leader. I really enjoyed Sue in this episode, which
is a first because I've never been too fond of her. As
with Sue, Johnny has never been a favourite of mine but
I thought he worked very well in the episode. The
story's very straight forward, but I thought it flowed
beautifully, managed the Fantastic Four well, and was
just a very satisfying episode. Ronan the Accuser acted
as a solid obstacle for the team, even if he was another
As I said at the start, the animation here isn't the
same "full animation" that one might be used to seeing
in superhero animation like Justice League Unlimited or
even Teen Titans. The animation style is much more in
line with anime, opting for static poses moving over
blurred backgrounds and animating a number of other
tricks that lend for noticeably less full animation.
Actual animation aside, the episode, particularly the
last third of it, just didn't look like it was directed
as well as it could have been. There didn't seem to be
an overall finesse in the direction of the episode, as
the editing, cuts, and screen compositions looked wonky
and awkward in places. Things like the excessively wide
shots that are cut between Johnny, Ben, Reed, and Sue's
conversations in that huge Kree arena seemed ill placed,
as my eye struggled to find who is saying what and which
character is standing where. The visuals here certainly
weren't a total mess, but if these hiccups continue to
happen in future episodes, I think it could become a
total turn-off for long-time fans and even the young
audience who can just as easily spot when things like
the direction of a series just isn't being executed
As far as premiere episodes go, this one wasn't bad. It
isn't a stellar start to the series, but it does enough
things right that it's clear the potential for greater
episodes is there. I enjoyed that at the end of the
episode there was the mention of a coming Kree/Skrull
war that the Fantastic Four could get swept into, which
shows that the writers are thinking ahead and are
obviously popping in little hints and winks to long time
fans. If future episodes are written as well as this
one, and are animated with just a tinge more fluidity
and finesse, this series could easily become the
best-animated adaptation of the Fantastic Four fans have
Oh great, another trial episode. One of those shows
where the hero is ironically placed on trial by the
Where have I seen that before?
This is a common, by now almost stock, type of episode.
Batman: The Animated Series had "The Trial," Justice
League had "In Blackest Night," Hank McCoy was put
through a macabre trial in X-Men: TAS. Spider-Man faced
charges in "The Man without Fear."
The point of the trial episode is to put the audience in
the place of the jury and let them pass judgment on the
character. Inevitably the hero will be redeemed and he
will be even more heroic for having suffered the trial.
(Indeed, the first "trial episode" was the myth of
Hercules and his Twelve Trials.)
FF does very little that is new and clever with this
well worn trope. Meanwhile they speed through character
development and exposition. The episode is half-finished
before we even realize why Johnny is being accused.
The one clever twist FF does add to the trial mould is
that Johnny Storm--unlike most heroes--is irrefutably
guilty. He has attacked the Kree sentries unprovoked.
This makes it interesting. The audience is asked to
embrace Johnny not because he has survived the trial,
but despite that fact.
We are asked to accept Johnny as a flawed and
irritating, but big-hearted, person. This strikes to the
very core of the FF mythos: imperfect people trying to
do heroic things.
So while the plot may be stock and the characters may
need further development (especially the woefully
unexplained Ronan and Kree Supreme Intelligence), this
series has unquestionable potential because it "gets"
why people liked the Fantastic Four to begin with.
Now the creative team needs to find something original
for them to do.
Finally, this episode functioned as the series premiere
even though it was not the first in production order.
"Doomsday" was. Thus, I'm willing to forgive the lack of
introductions, explanations or exposition; because,
perhaps, that was all handled in the unseen "Doomsday."
So the final grade? It's not perfect. The animation
looked fantastic sometimes and awkward at others. And
the lip-synching was not always synched. The characters
have some way to go. (What was with Sue fainting?) And
the villain will need to be revamped before any return
However, the creative staff obviously understands these
characters on more than a superficial level. It gets who
they are and how they interact. That is the most
important thing and the bedrock any successful FF show
will rest on. Now it just needs to be communicated to
the audience better.
Jim Harvey - While a different take on the classic characters, the
new Fantastic Four animated series still provides
the basics of a good story based on our four heroes.
With a sharp anime style applied to the designs, the
show provides a vivid new look for the characters.
As any person with even the basic comic-book knowledge
knows, the Fantastic Four gained their powers by cosmic
rays during a voyage into outer space. All four were
granted different powers, such as the ability to
stretch, turn invisible, burst into flame, or
unbelievable strength. All of that remains here, as can
be expected. The characters remain as they are in other
interpretations, though some of their respective
character weaknesses do become apparent in this episode.
Obviously not a pilot episode, we’re thrown immediately
into the action, which causes crucial character
development to be left out. In the first episode, though
not the pilot as Cartoon Network is airing the series
out of order, we find Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) on
trial by Ronin The Accuser for the destruction of Kree
alien life forms (e.g., robots). Naturally, the
remaining Fantastic Four come to the aid to try and save
the troublesome hothead.
In short, I found this to be a fun, albeit generic,
Fantastic Four adventure. It hit many of the right
notes, and left me feeling pleased overall. It felt like
a story I’d see when picking up an issue of the comic
from which these characters came from. And while the
story was self-contained, it gave hints toward some
possible future storylines for the series. I felt the
writing was well done overall, the best for a typical
“hero on trial” story, though the episode did dip on a
couple of occasions.
As for the characters themselves, they were well handled
for the majority. The Thing was spot-on and very
enjoyable. That spray painted “4” on his chest, which
people still complain about, didn’t even bother me.
Johnny Storm was picture perfect, arrogant and always
stumbling into trouble. However, Reed Richards and Sue
Storm seemed slightly off. Richard was still the genius
he ever was, but his confidence seems to have dwindled a
bit in this interpretation of the series. And Sue Storm,
much like last year’s horrendous live-action
Fantastic Four movie has no personality and was
incredibly bland. I imagine future episodes will fix
this, and any other character hiccups for the rest of
I did enjoy what I saw, however. I thought overall, this
is a very pleasing series with a strong and enjoyable
visual style. While some may not be able to adjust to
the anime look of the series, I thought the characters
adapted to it very well. I thought it would be hard to
pull of characters such as the Fantastic Four in an
anime style, but they did it beautifully. I found the
animated, and the mix of 2D and 3D, was handled great.
While I currently find Toonami to be a mere shell of
its’ former glory (and hardly watchable at this point),
I’m glad it has a show like Fantastic Four on the block.
Taking this route, and revamping the style of the
characters, will assure it a new audience and new fans.
I can see this show easily building up an intense fan
following as more of the bigger episodes from the series
While this episode was a tad generic, it was still
handled well and showed that there’s a lot of promise
for this new series. It’s a very worthy addition to the
animated Marvel collection, and worth catching on
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