Characters Appearing: Annihilus, Brute (Alt. Reed Richards), Human Torch, Impossible Man, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing, Thundra, Tigra
Fantastic Four #179
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #179
Reed, although powerless, learns to survive in the Negative Zone. This is a lot less dangerous than it has always been made to be. In the past, being trapped in the Negative Zone was certain death. Now, you fight off a few goonie goulies, make yourself a nice fire since the asteroids you're floating on are helpfully made out of flint (and the fire stays lit just fine without any fuel) and you have yourself a nice bat dinner.
Of course, Annihilus shows up soon enough, but that's just a cliffhanger for next issue.
Back on Earth, everyone is pretty sure there's something wrong with "Reed" but no one figures out that the guy who looked just like Reed that got trapped in the Negative Zone is the real Reed. Sue even sleeps with the guy despite her misgivings (and then wanders the Baxter Building in a sexy see-through nighty).
Impossible Man, Tigra, and Thundra are still hanging around the Baxter Building.
Tigra and the Thing fight a robot, but it's just an excuse to get a little action into this issue, which is otherwise just building the Brute/Reed plot.
Tigra's just sort of hanging around, like they didn't know what to do with her after her series in Marvel Chillers ended, but they didn't want to just let her fade into obscurity. Which i guess is good, but it reminds me of the way the Hulk bounced around after the cancellation of his series in the mid-60s, and they actually created plots for him.
I guess the development for Tigra is that she's developed a thing for the Thing.
Ron Wilson does a good job conforming his art to the Marvel House Style.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Reed Richards has been floating in the Negative Zone for some indefinite period of time since last issue. Issue #180 was a reprint, and this story continues directly in #181.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Who was smoking that cigarette holder in the last panel?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 24, 2011 1:52 PM
Mark - my guess would be the Impossible Man. I think he picked up that habit from the Thing.
Posted by: clyde | February 14, 2015 11:58 PM
Hawkeye will later play on Tigra's interest in the Thing to keep him around in the early issues of WCA (so that might count as an inbound reference). I always wondered at that time how on earth Tigra ended up hanging with the FF.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 27, 2015 12:09 PM
This issue and the next few are a sign of the troubles at Marvel, as it was very clearly cobbled together at the last minute. The robot in this story, fior example, is never really explained; the Marvel Index finally has to decide that it's probably a dropped thread of the rather slapped-together Mad Thinker stuff that turns up as part of the resolution of the Brute plotline.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 15, 2016 9:24 AM
What a cliffhanger. I was so worried for Reed. I wasn't able to see the conclusion until several years later.
Posted by: Mizark | July 22, 2016 4:40 AM
I can't recall; has there ever been an on-panel explanation as to how, while in open space in the Negative Zone, people are able to breathe, survive radiation, avoid decompression and generally endure all of the other things that would kill a human instantly if they were exposed to space without protection in our universe?
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | December 31, 2017 8:51 PM
I can't think of a time it was ever addressed, nor why so many floating boulders have 1G gravity. The negative zone is like the Ditko-verse that way.
Posted by: Andrew | December 31, 2017 9:02 PM
From the wiki entry on the Negative Zone -
Posted by: clyde | December 31, 2017 9:11 PM
This also may answer the boulder issue -
Posted by: clyde | December 31, 2017 9:14 PM
Aah, comic-book science. There's nothing like it.
Posted by: The Small Lebowski | December 31, 2017 9:20 PM
Regarding Sub-space/the Negative Zone: In FF #51, the Thing impersonator described conditions there as "extreme" and said that only someone with a protective helmet or the physiology of the Thing could survive. Then in FF #61, whoops, Reed gets sucked into the zone without a helmet, and survives. I think this probably happened only because Kirby was always working without any reference to previous issues. The whole pseudo-scientific explanation for sub-space was actually pretty consistent, internally to #51, but then there's a big continuity slip at #61, and everything about the zone after that has been haphazardly and repeatedly retconned, in various efforts to make it the stories reasonably consistent with each other-- which is more or less long past impossible at this point.
To me it reads like everything from #48, "The Coming of Galactus," up to #60, which finishes both the Silver-Surfer/Doctor Doom storyline and the Inhumans sub-plot storyline, was planned and plotted in one go, and then continuity slips, not just in this regard but also in a number of other areas, for whatever reasons.
Posted by: Holt | December 31, 2017 10:52 PM
I'm actually disappointed with the explanations for the Negative Zone! I always thought it'd be something high concept like it being a different reality with it's own physical laws which only seem to resemble ours but operate in completely alien ways, like the whole place being governed by perception or somesuch...
"There's oxygen everywhere" and "gravity is a bit weaker" just seem like they aren't even trying. :(
Posted by: Benway | January 3, 2018 10:54 AM
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