Page 1 – (6 Panels)
1.1: Interior, the family / TV room in the Baxter building, the room where you always see Johnny and Ben bickering right before Reed barges in to announce that the world is going to end unless they do something. It’s evening and Ben Grimm, the Thing, is standing in the middle of the room, yelling to people off-panel. He’s wearing a turtle neck / sports coat / early 1960’s “cool” sophisticated male outfit. I picture this as a close-shot of Ben’s profile looking right, but that’s not necessary.
Thing: C’mon, everybody . . .
Thing (in the usual “It’s Clobberin’ Time” font): IT’S CHRISTMAS CARD TIME!!!
1.2: The rest of the First Family, sans Reed, entering the room. Johnny is flying in, carrying Franklin in arms that aren’t “Flaming on”. Both are wearing ties. Sue and Valeria are walking hand-in-hand, Valeria slightly pulling her mother. Everyone is dressed in the same ‘60’s yuppie attire.
Franklin: Sorry Uncle Ben. I had to help Uncle Johnny with his tie.
Johnny: Thanks, kid. I’m never gonna’ live this down.
1.3: The whole family standing together, posing for the photo. From left to right the line-up is: Ben, Reed (whose spot is empty), Sue and Johnny. Sitting in chairs in front of Reed and Sue are Valeria and Franklin. The empty space next to Sue, where Reed should be, needs to be tremendously obvious.
Sue: Valeria, do you know where your father is?
Valeria: He said he’s be right up, but you know how Dad gets.
1.4: Valeria’s face, looking up at her mother and, by proxy, the reader.
Valeria: He’s been working on some super-secret project. All I know is that he calls it “Project Mistletoe”.
1.5: Interior, Reed’s idea room from the Hickman run of Fantastic Four. It’s basically a white “dry erase board” room where Reed goes to brainstorm ideas, so the walls are usually covered. Now, Reed is erasing everything from the walls. He’s also dressed for the portrait, so that the reader knows he didn’t totally flake-out on his family obligation.
Valeria (caption): “Today he just needed to finish a few things up.”
1.6: Reed erasing the final “idea” on the wall – “SOLVE EVERYTHING”. He’s smiling, finally content within himself.