Fantastic Four #204
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #204
Goddamn it, Sue! I have been supporting you all along. But you are being ridiculous here. Reed is trying to figure out which extraterrestrial super-threat is messing with your building. Now is not the time to play paddycakes with Franklin.
It's not just Sue, though. No one seems interested.
No wonder Reed didn't want to get the team back together a few issues ago. These people are idiots.
Anyway, while investigating the power drain problem, Reed detects a separate beam coming from the same source - somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy - and pretty soon a parody of a pulp sci-fi space queen has been beamed into his lab.
She's pursued by a Skrull.
Here comes the Thing to be surprised that the phenomenon Reed was investigating turned out to be an actual threat. Whaaa--?
Note that the Skrull is unusual. He's got 3 fingers on each hand and a variety of powers, and he can also take a punch from the Thing. We'll hear more from him in a later part of this story; for now, Reed zaps him with a stasis ray.
The pulp sci-fi lady does indeed turn out to be a space queen, Adora. She explains that her planet was attacked by a mysterious ship and broken apart...
...but the pieces containing its major cities were saved (unknown to them, by the Watcher)...
...and they managed to re-construct their planet artificially.
We'll learn in FF #206 that the initial destruction of the planet was caused by Zorr, the villain from Nova #1. More recently, the planet came under attack by Skrulls, and that's why Adora has fled to Earth.
Adora's flashback scenes also make it clear that her planet is the one that Nova's predecessor came from. The planet isn't named in this issue.
The FF sign up to help her, but the Human Torch is currently not in the building. He's flying around thinking about his girlfriend issues, and he runs into a young woman named Lanie. He starts showing off for her by playing pinball, but she's not impressed...
...and even less so with his blase attitude about all his experiences. She calls him dull.
Right after that, he runs into Frankie Raye, but as his talking crotch indicates, he's still a super-hero so she's not interested.
All of this makes Johnny decide that he's going to go back to college instead of go with the rest of the FF. The team is pretty supportive of his decision.
Two issues back, the cover of issue #202 had a blurb announcing the new Fantastic Four cartoon show. That show replaced the Human Torch with a robot called HERBIE (by now i hope everyone knows it was not because of concerns that kids would light themselves on fire; it was because the Torch had been licensed separately). HERBIE will be introduced in the comic soon, and this seems to be a way to get Johnny out of the picture. He'll still be in the book, but separated from the team for a bit.
Writing this in 2013, let me say that i got pretty annoyed when the X-Men took off their costumes and started wearing black leather thanks to the first X-Men movie, and with all the shenanigans around Spider-Man's webshooters, and don't get me started on the Avengers Assemble book. This puts all that in perspective; it's not a new thing for outside sources to cause changes in the comics. One difference is that by most accounts the creators were no happier with HERBIE than the fans were, but HERBIE may be a special case in that regard.
With the rest of the FF gone, Johnny tries to check in with his car building buddies, but they are on vacation. He then decides to drop in on the Avengers (unclear on what he wanted. Did he want to join the team? Just seeing if they had anything going on? Just wanted to hang out?) but they're in conference with Henry Gyrich. He also leaves a fire message in the sky asking Spider-Man to join him at their hang-out spot on the Statue of Liberty, but a panel shows Spider-Man currently in a fight against the Man-Wolf.
Failing all of that, he opens a letter that Sue handed him before he left, and finds out that, suspiciously coincidentally, he's been invited to enroll at Security University.
It turns out that Lanie was working for the third rate villain and Dr. Faustus lookalike, the Monocle...
...and her meeting with Johnny was an act to get him to the school. Even though it was an act, the depiction of Johnny as hopelessly uninterested in the world around him was hands down the best character development i've seen Marv Wolfman do on the Fantastic Four.
Generally speaking, this is a set-up issue. Frankly the story that is being set up will turn out to be a meandering mess but this issue in isolation is fun. Adora's outfit is campy and it's always disappointing when an alien race turns out to be pink-skinned humans. But the connection with Nova's book (even if both FF and Nova are by Wolfman, and it will turn out that Nova's book is cancelled and wrapped up in FF), and the introduction of a war with the Skrulls, gives this a grander sense of scope. And meanwhile the character work with Johnny feels promising. Unfortunately the payoff won't be equal to the set-up.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue takes place concurrently with Amazing Spider-Man #190 (the Spidey panel is a single panel with no backgrounds and i'm treating it as conceptual, meaning that i haven't listed Spider-Man or the Man-Wolf as characters appearing) and with Avengers #181 (Johnny actually talks to Jarvis, however, so he is included here). For the rest of the FF, issue #205 takes place directly after this issue, but i've separated this out from a long run of FF beginning in #205 and ending in #214. Technically it all happens in direct succession, but since this issue takes place during Amazing Spider-Man #190 and Spidey later appears in that big FF run between Amazing Spider-Man #193-194, i'm keeping this issue separate. Other comics placed between this entry and the #205-214 entry should be thought to be taking place concurrently with that long arc and none of the FF should appear in other comics between this entry and that one.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAdora, Agatha Harkness, Alicia Masters, Franklin Richards, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Jarvis, Monocle, Mr. Fantastic, Nova (Frankie Raye), Thing
Johnny's thought balloon as he gets the pager call is hilarious as it can be taken in a very different light.;)
Posted by: clyde | February 18, 2015 12:54 PM
Oh hey Dr. Faustus did come first by about two years so the Monocle does seem especially redundant even in a superhero universe.
Posted by: david banes | February 18, 2015 2:40 PM
Although I think the Monocle is all kinds of awesome, I am surprised he was introduced as late as 1979. He must have felt out of date even back then.
Posted by: kveto | February 19, 2015 5:01 PM
His first appearance was actually Fantastic Four #95. A Lee/Kirby original!
Posted by: fnord12 | February 19, 2015 5:04 PM
That makes more sense:-)
Posted by: kveto | February 19, 2015 5:06 PM
In Kirby's defense, the Monocle was created during his last few months with Marvel, when he knew the end was near and when he was (surely) focusing his attentions on the upcoming Fourth World.
Posted by: Zeilstern | February 19, 2015 8:56 PM
I have to agree with Clyde. I'm surprised I've never seen that panel before. Taken out of context, it is one of the great panels of all-time.
Still, this seems like an awful lot to happen in one issue.
And to be fair to Marvel, this kind of influence from the outside use of characters happened at DC back in the sixties - Mr. Freeze only became Mr. Freeze after he was called that on the Batman show and the whole creation of Batgirl stems from involvement with the show.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 13, 2015 11:53 AM
Yeah, but it's gone to ridiculous lengths with Marvel- Nick Fury's been written out and replaced with his never-before-seen black son and the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are no longer mutants, despite being mutants for over half a century.
Posted by: Michael | April 13, 2015 8:24 PM
Nick Fury Jr aka Blick Fury is especially odd considering Miles Morales is being imported to the MU soon. Of course in this case it's the movies basing themselves on the ultimate comics to begin with so it's interestingly circular. I just don't understand that none of the suits ever notice there is no real crosspromotion? Like a billion people are gonna watch Age of Ultron in a few weeks but I highly doubt even 1 percent of them will be thereafter looking for a comic. And if they do look for one, why deal with retcons like Wanda and Pietro because the odds they will buy an older tpb that has them as mutants are quite high.
Now I'm imagining them taking retconning to the next level and changing the word mutant to inhuman in all future reprints. Say, is this inhuman kick they're going on any good for the Kirby estate?
And oh yeah, showed that panel out of context to my wife and she was aghast. Aghast I tell you!
Posted by: PeterA | April 14, 2015 3:20 AM
Not for nothing, but eventually that "Avengers Assemble" book, under Kelly Sue DeConnick, became one of the better Avengers books of its time. Cancelled too soon.
Posted by: Jeff | June 1, 2015 12:17 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|