Fantastic Four #263-264
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #263, Fantastic Four #264
...the race begins, and Johnny is seemingly killed in an accident.
In fact, as the Thing suspected, there was actually a switcharoo, and the Human Torch is now a captive of a Walt Disney-like Alden Maas.
Maas has some strange notions and a less-than-firm understanding of science, and he's convinced that Earth is in danger of overpopulation, and the only way to solve the problem is to heat up the Earth's core, which will cause the Earth's continents to expand, making more room for everyone!
Bizarre as that sounds, Maas does have the wherewithal to keep Johnny prisoner and force him to use his nova blast in regular intervals (with just enough time in between that he doesn't kill himself from the exertion).
The heat blasts have caused terrible damage and loss of life in the Mole Man's kingdom...
...so a tenuous alliance is formed between the Mole Man and the Thing.
Maas winds up dying due to a pre-existing condition, and it turns out that all of his lackeys are robots who knew he was crazy but were programmed to help him anyway.
They subsequently kill themselves by marching into the sea.
Truly a Strange Tale! I enjoyed it.
Meanwhile, Reed and Sue get accustomed to their new domestic life...
...and secret identities.
But while Reed is off investigating strange energy readings (that will turn out to be caused by the Beyonder)...
....Sue starts having complications with her pregnancy.
Quality Rating: A-
Chronological Placement Considerations: A note says "It's been only one issue since 'The Trial of Reed Richards', but several months have elapsed for the members of the Fantastic Four". Also, I prefer that this occur after Hulk #293 due to the Secret Wars related scenes. See the note there for more. Additionally, the Vision is still paralyzed after the battle with Annihilus, but this is after he's been hooked up to the Avengers' computer system via ISAAC.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showFranklin Richards, Giganto (Subterranean), Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Julie Angel, Mole Man, Mr. Fantastic, Thing, Vision
"Alden Maas" is an anagram of Neal Adams, who concocted his own theory of an expanding earth.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 21, 2012 3:28 AM
I remembered that factlet from the MU Appendix, which I now duly credit: http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/maasalden.htm
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 21, 2012 3:31 AM
I wonder if the "suicide by walking into the ocean" ending is a reference to the misconception that lemmings commit mass suicide? A misconception that was popularized by Disney, in fact.
Posted by: S | November 17, 2012 4:22 PM
This was a great two parter just to see Giganto again. It was weird with the robot cartoon characters but great fun. Only a few people could give secret identies to superheroes who never had them and make it enjoyable to watch. I just roll my eyes every time Stark has to 'go fetch Iron Man' but this is great.
Posted by: david banes | January 17, 2016 4:02 AM
Now all we need is a story in which the Invisible Woman investigates a strange misogynistic cult led by 'Sid Vema'.
Posted by: Oliver_C | January 17, 2016 6:31 AM
Was Julie Angel and Johnny ever a couple?
Posted by: a.lloyd | February 12, 2017 7:08 AM
While reading these issues, I couldn't help but be reminded of Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, which features a protagonist with the surname Maas, someone allegedly committing suicide by walking into the ocean, and an affluent man with a possible messiah complex. That may be where the similarities end, however.
Posted by: TCP | June 7, 2017 10:41 AM
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