Fantastic Four #299
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #299
It starts with Johnny asking Ben to be the best man at his and Alicia's wedding. Everyone else thinks that is a really dumb idea, but i think it shows signs of maturity for Johnny Storm. It does send the Thing into a rage...
...and he storms out. This is right before a ceremony where the FF are supposed to officially open their new building and name it (i love Wyatt Wingfoot's discomfort in his collared shirt).
While the rest of the FF go to the ceremony, She-Hulk goes after Ben, and finds him at a bar.
And it becomes pretty clear he's one step away from going on a rampage.
I was going to say that the fact that the bartender didn't realize that the Thing was in the bar must prove that the Thing's typical trenchcoat costume must really work, but then i saw She-Hulk's crack about lightbulbs.
She-Hulk then takes the Thing to a different bar, which just happens to be the only business still operating in an area where all the buildings are scheduled to be demolished. And here she provokes the Thing into a fight. And of course we realize that this is just about letting the Thing let off steam, and it works.
Meanwhile, Peter Parker is at the FF's naming ceremony, and he realizes that the Human Torch is acting down, so he catches up with him and they talk things out.
The downside of this is that someone in the building they are on hears them talking and alerts the Daily Bugle to the upcoming wedding. But at the end of the issue, Johnny arrives at the site where the Thing and She-Hulk were fighting, and the Thing agrees to be the best man.
It's a nice issue. Largely just a big fight, but serving a greater purpose. Good stuff.
The FF's building is renamed 4 Freedoms Plaza.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Spider-Man's appearance here is context free, but the MCP have it during the gap in the Gang War story in Amazing Spider-Man.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showHuman Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, Thing, Wyatt Wingfoot
This issue is one of the reasons I can't stand Slott's retcon that Reed knew that Jen's inability to change back to human form was psychosomatic. It basically makes Reed into an idiot that makes the same mistakes twice and a hypocrite that wanted Ben to forgive him but was unwilling to change his behavior.
Posted by: Michael | March 3, 2014 7:59 PM
Ben and She-Hulk have developed this real friendly rivalry over time, with neither able to concede that the other might be stronger. It even came up very shortly before the FF series recently. It's funny though, I think this might be the only time the two of them have actually fought. If I remember rightly, there was even a letter in this issue from somebody pointing out that Jen wasn't a worthy successor for Ben as she wasn't as strong as him. I thought it was a really fun little fight with great Buscema art and each of them were hampered in their own way (Ben was plastered, Shulkie was only trying to lift his spirits). I love the Ben/Jen dynamic, they make a fantastic team, no pun intended.
Posted by: Nick | March 7, 2014 6:33 AM
"Stupid for most people or stupid for you?" I love it. No one insults Johnny like Spider-Man does.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 9, 2015 12:03 PM
I liked Byrne's run on the FF, but I never bought into the retcon which suggests that Ben's inability to change back and forth to the Thing was simply because of his feelings for Alicia. There has to be a lot more to it than that.
Before Ben met Alicia in Fantastic Four #8, he had what seemed to be a pretty serious crush on Sue. Consider Sue's reaction to Ben's mutation in issue #1: she was horrified by his monstrous form, and impulsively labeled him as "some kind of a thing," i.e., a monster. So, given that he was romantically motivated towards Sue, shouldn't he have immediately reverted back to his human form, if he was able to do so? Reed, Sue, and Johnny were all able to switch their mutations on and off at will, right from the start. Why not Ben?
I don't mean to imply that the Thing's inability to change back to Ben might not be psychological in nature. He was angry and jealous towards Reed, before and during the space flight... jealous about Reed and Sue's relationship, and fearful of unknown cosmic radiation dangers. Reed and Sue insisted on making the flight against Ben's angry protestations. Ben tried to refuse, prompting Sue to call him a coward to his face. He only consented because of this insult.
Without Ben, they wouldn't have had a pilot and so they couldn't have made the flight. Of the four, Ben was the one who most expected something to go wrong, and his worst fears were realized, but only in his case. He got the most monstrous mutation of them all, and was the only one who couldn't change back to his normal form, thus ( 1.) fulfilling his own expectations, ( 2.) making him "right" in his own mind, and ( 3.) psychologically justifying his anger at Reed. Without missing a beat, Sue immediately called Reed "darling" and labeled Ben as a "thing."
Yet Ben ultimately gave Reed something to feel guilty about, albeit at great cost to himself. The dude had some serious anger issues.
Other than what happened to Ben, the mission would have arguably been considered a great success, even though they crashed. Prior to the 1980s' space shuttle missions, no reusable spacecraft had ever made a successful terrestrial landing (in the real world). Instead the 1964-1965 Gemini missions used parachutes and splashdowns. In 1961, when FF #1 was first published, it was a great accomplishment just to breach the atmosphere and come back alive from a manned mission to space. To gain super-powers in the process was an unexpected added bonus (except for Ben?).
Posted by: James Holt | July 10, 2016 9:51 PM
It was explained in either FF ot Thing during the Byrne era that the Thing really couldn't change back at all to begin with but that his powers stabilised at some point and he should have been able to change back then.
Posted by: Benway | November 10, 2016 9:36 PM
Let's use the "you've got to be kidding me" cliche to address three more in this book. First Ben takes no time at all reverting back to the vandalism prone rageaholic which is the most annoying part of his character. Second an overused fight to let off steam with She-Hulk. Thirdly the first two occur because Johnny asks him to be F*ing best man at his wedding to Alicia. Dumb sh*t.
Sorry I can't get past it.
Posted by: KevinA | May 24, 2018 10:37 AM
"This issue is one of the reasons I can't stand Slott's retcon that Reed knew that Jen's inability to change back to human form was psychosomatic. It basically makes Reed into an idiot that makes the same mistakes twice and a hypocrite that wanted Ben to forgive him but was unwilling to change his behavior."
I didn't have enough context to understand this 2014 comment when I first read it in 2016. I essentially agree-- I don't really like a lot of the retroactive deconstruction and destruction of Reed's character that's continued over the years, to the point where he's practically become an idiot-savant/villain. But we sort of have to live with it I guess. I haven't read Slott's retcon, but would like to. Was that in the She-Hulk series?
But the explanations keep changing. I'm not sure if the "blame-Alicia" angle is even still being used. I'm more in the "psychosomatic" camp, which I think might be more or less the way Marvel eventually went with it. But I'm not sure.
It's a pretty poor soap opera for sure. I'll always wonder where Byrne would have gone with this triangle since he started it but never finished it.
Posted by: Holt | May 24, 2018 1:37 PM
Yes, it was in Slott's She-Hulk series- She-Hulk 11, cover dated March 2005. (There's several She-Hulk 11s at this point, so if you buy it, make sure you buy the right one.)Doc Samson talks like it was his idea, and Reed went along with it.
Posted by: Michael | May 24, 2018 7:59 PM
Posted by: Holt | May 24, 2018 9:57 PM
Has it ever been addressed why the 'Hulks' (Bruce, Jen, Rick) have issues with transforming to human form and back while other gamma powered individuals like Doc Samson, Abomination, and The Leader do ont?
Posted by: KevinA | May 24, 2018 10:09 PM
KevinA- it was addressed, several times over the years, and essentially boiled down to "gamma radiation affects different people differently", etc.
Posted by: Wis | May 25, 2018 1:10 AM
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