Fantastic Four #362-365
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #362, Fantastic Four #363, Fantastic Four #364, Fantastic Four #365
The main villain is called Occulus. I used to get him confused with the Monocle, but i guess they're really nothing alike.
Before we get to him, though, a nice moment from issue #362. Spider-Man reads about the Human Torch and Alicia Masters' "divorce" in a gossip column, and decides to cheer the Torch up by picking a fight with him.
Nothing cheers me up like a couple of web-bolos.
The two do cause a fair amount of property damage, and Spidey is pretty cavalier about it, saying that Johnny can pay for it with his Fantastic Four expense account. No wonder the civilians of the Marvel universe are moved to mob violence at the drop of a hat.
At the same time as that, Mr. Fantastic is characteristically opening up portals and sticking his hand into them. He fishes out this guy named Wild Blood.
Wild Blood notices something special about Franklin and grabs him and the Invisible Woman, and runs back through the portal. So when Johnny gets back, the rest of the FF go in after Franklin and Sue.
Wild Blood turns out to be a rebel working against the Occulus guy. Here's Occulus.
Beyond that, like i said, it's something about gems.
Note that once again the Invisible Woman's invisibility power turns out to be absolutely useless. I think literally every villain that Sue has faced since the start of DeFalco's run has had a way to negate her invisibility. Like, why even pretend? Just take that power away from her and call her a telekinetic.
Anyway, that's basically it. The characters run around for 3 whole issues doing the usual bit of leading a rag tag rebellion against an empire. Reed Richards is in full "no time to explain", "just trust me" mode, for no good reason (as usual).
Frankly, you have to have a lot of faith in yourself to merit three whole issues (plus a fourth initial issue of set-up) devoted to a fourth-rate Dr. Doom. And the faith in this case was not warranted.
Since they're in the "Innerverse", it becomes a problem when Occulus starts drawing his power "from the sub-atomic cohesive force" and i guess he could have accidentally destroyed the whole universe if he wasn't stopped. But he is stopped.
It's sometimes hard to convey why a story is good or bad. Paul Ryan's art is fine. And a generic plot like this can be made better if there's a sub-current of conversation going on, maybe about interteam squabbles or something else. In this case, there's nothing going on but the plot, so to speak. And it's three plus damn issues. And the dialogue is just so dry, so generic, such 1960s expository drama ("Ben! He's so still... so motionless"!).
It's just... there's just nothing here, and that's before you get to all the whatever whatever about the gems.
One consequence of this story is that while Occulus was messing with Franklin, the psionic bonds that restrain Franklin's mutant powers may have been damaged. I thought we were kind of past this after Franklin's powers started reactivating in Power Pack and Reed seemed to come to terms with that in Fantastic Four #301, but i guess the idea is that the bonds are coming undone faster than expected and it's going to be a problem.
("Most physicians can only dream of paying a house call on the Fantastic Four!". God.)
Also of interest is the return of Sharon Ventura. Note that Alicia doesn't recognize her, which is actually because they've never met.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 221,792. Single issue closest to filing date = 166,200.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAlicia Masters, Franklin Richards, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura), Spider-Man, Thing
I think Occulus doesn't stand out also because of his coloring. No I'm being serious! The red and purple scheme works for Magneto only lol but everyone else (Lucifer I'm lookin at you) it just doesn't "fit". I think his design just seems like another emperor type. Paul Ryan is a fine artist but a "quiet" artist
Posted by: Brimstone: Wrestler, Celebrity, Actor, Comics CEO | January 26, 2016 10:25 AM
When you have a name like "Occulus", I'd expect something similar to Lord I from the Morbius "Fear" books, not "generic Darkseid-looking loser #73".
Posted by: Ataru320 | January 26, 2016 11:21 AM
In less than a year, we went from Simonson's perfection to this garbage.
DeFalco should be convicted of crimes against comics.
Posted by: Bob | January 26, 2016 4:55 PM
Piggybacking on what Bob says, note the difference in numbers in the Statement of Ownership. Compared to other contemporary numbers, the average sales beat all non-mutant books except Adjectiveless and Amazing Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, and Sleepwalker - the sort of thing you couldn't say about the FF since Byrne's run at least (it even beats both Punisher books!). The single issue number, though, has lost a quarter of the average number, putting it much more in line with the other "miscellaneous" Silver Age legacy books. Next year's Statement will have both numbers back above 200k, but I don't know how much of that is attributable to the book itself and how much is attributable to the larger speculator boom.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | April 2, 2017 12:31 AM
@ Ataru320: "generic Darkseid-looking loser #73" LOL! No exaggeration, I really did
Not quite sure what all the hate is about with DeFalco and Ryan so far. The art reminds me of Byrne and the stories aren't THAT bad. Sure they're old fashioned to a degree but then I was never a big fan of the "gritty realism" that followed in the wake of Watchmen.
Posted by: KevinA | July 18, 2018 9:23 AM
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