Fantastic Four #185-186
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #185, Fantastic Four #186
You'll notice talk of Mr. Fantastic wearing an old uniform in the scan above, and indeed it's said that all of the FF have changed their uniforms.
I don't actually see any different between the uniforms here and the last few issues. What am i missing?
Anyway, the egg leads the FF to a remote town, which the FF arrive at via the Pogo Plane, and then Johnny builds a car out of component parts.
Since they're trying to be incognito, the Thing also disguises himself the way he did back in Fantastic Four #1.
Assuming the FF really have gone back to their old uniforms, between that and the reference to Johnny's hotrod days and the Thing's disguise, this seems to be a signaling a back-to-basics approach.
Posing as mining prospectors, the FF arrive in New Salem, an isolated town in what i assume are the Rocky Mountains. They are greeted by the town's mayor, Nicholas Scratch.
A scene with Agatha Harkness looking out a window helps the reader know that Something Isn't Right about the town, but the FF are completely taken in by the illusion, and are all ready to leave...
...forcing Harkness to act by creating a wall of flame around the town. This forces Nicholas Scratch to attack...
...first by sending gargoyles at the team, and then with a group of witches and warlocks (that force the Thing to punch himself out, poor guy).
The FF are placed in a cell with Agatha, who explains that she took Franklin hoping that he'd use his mysterious mutant powers to help her. Yeah, maybe if you'd asked permission, you would have learned that his powers are currently blocked. Agatha is taken off to be executed for sharing information about New Salem with the outside world, and Franklin is taken away to ensure the FF don't resist (and to ensure that Sue gets hysterical again)...
...and then the FF try to figure out how to get out of the cell.
I can also hear you talking, Mr. Fantastic!
But they do get out, and they find themselves facing a group that is conveniently much more super-villainy than witchy.
The fight goes on for a bit, with some scenes designed to show off George Perez' ability to work with large groups while also highlighting each member of the Salem's Seven.
But the fight ends kind of lamely when one of the Seven discovers that Mr. Fantastic is using artificial arms. That is apparently enough to cause all of the Seven to lose their powers.
The FF are then able to convince the residents of New Salem that Agatha Harkness didn't actually betray any information about their town, and that Nicholas Scratch has been misleading them.
Agatha also reveals that Scratch is her son.
Ensuring that this FF run doesn't let up for a second, while all this is going on, the Impossible Man is attacked back in the Baxter Building.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This begins "less than an hour" after the end of last issue. The FF are in their Pogo Plane at the end of this arc and will be shown landing at the Baxter Building at the beginning of issue #187, where they will be attacked by Klaw and the Molecule Man. Takes place roughly circa Super-Villain Team-Up #14.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAgatha Harkness, Brutacus, Frank, Gazelle, Human Torch, Hydron (Salem Seven), Impossible Man, Invisible Woman, Klaw, Molecule Man, Mr. Fantastic, Nicholas Scratch, Reptilla, Thing, Thornn, Vakume, Vertigo (Salem Seven)
FNORD - in regards to the costume change, I looked at the scans from the previous FF entry and noticed a slight difference on the emblem. The "old" emblem had a blue circle around the blue four and white backing. These costumes have a black circle around the blue four and white backing.
Posted by: clyde | February 15, 2015 12:18 AM
Also, the black band around the collar is noticeably thicker; in the earliest issues of the book, the band seemed to come halfway down to the "4" insignia. This isn't quite so thick, but it's more than they had before.
Posted by: Dan Spector | March 17, 2015 9:47 PM
The idea seems to be that Salem's Seven are the result of a spell specifically created to make them a match for the FF's powers, so I guess it makes sense that they turn into supervillains. And this is probably also supposed to be why finding out Reed's powers are fake disrupts the spell. Wein likes those sorts of plot gimmicks, though they play better in DC's books than Marvel's.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | January 15, 2016 9:33 AM
Agatha Harkness is more trouble than she is worth. She could NOT have been the best available daycare option.
Posted by: Mizark | July 22, 2016 4:49 AM
Another small costume detail that changes is that the blue "4" insignias on their shirtfronts now have black offset shadows behind them, giving a slight standout or 3-D effect to them. I believe that the black belts are intended to be wider, and the boots and gloves are intended to be blacker as well, although these are more subtle details that depend heavily on the inker, and are harder to pin down in Perez's drawings. These new/old Perez costume details hearken back to FF #3 when the FF costumes were first introduced. Many or most of these small details can be seen to gradually disappear between FF #3 and FF #6, probably due to Kirby penciling each issue without using reference art from the previous issues.
All that said, some details are still different between Perez's renderings and Kirby's FF #3 costumes. Unlike the Perez versions, there are no thick black circles around Kirby's "4" insignias, only a thin black line, of about the usual cartoon-outline thickness, around the white circles. Kirby's original costumes fitted them more loosely-- perhaps they've gained weight since then? -- and showed visible seams on the arms and legs. Also, the black collars and belts were noticeably a bit wider than what Perez is showing us here.
Artistic attention to these small, original Kirby costume details will return under John Byrne, when he starts on his own "back-to-basics" efforts, with FF #232.
Posted by: Holt | December 23, 2017 11:09 AM
What on Earth could the town records be that indicate the egg didn't come from there?
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | December 23, 2017 11:58 AM
Good question Luke. I see nothing in the story to justify that, so it's likely just another contrivance to advance the plot. This early Len Wein stuff is almost as hard to wade through as the Thomas stuff was, but the art is usually good enough to just barely keep me afloat as I skim through all these '70's issues I had previously missed. As I had always suspected it seems I didn't miss much, JMHO
Posted by: Holt | December 23, 2017 12:20 PM
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