Characters Appearing: Angel, Aurora, Beast, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Black Widow, Captain America, Colossus, Crystal, Cyclops, Daredevil, Darkhawk, Firestar, Forge, Franklin Richards, Gambit, Havok, Henry Pym, Hercules, Hulk, Human Torch, Iceman, Invisible Woman, Iron Man Doppelganger, Jean Grey, Living Lightning, Madrox the Multiple Man, Moon Knight, Mr. Fantastic Doppelganger, Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura), Namorita, Northstar, Nova (Rich Rider), Polaris, Professor X, Psylocke, Puck, Puppet Master, Quicksilver, Rogue, Sasquatch, Scarlet Witch, Shaman, She-Hulk, Silhouette, Speedball, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Storm, Strong Guy, Thing, Thunderstrike, USAgent, Vindicator (Heather Hudson), Vision, Wasp, Wild Child, Wolfsbane, Wolverine, Wonder Man
Fantastic Four #367
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #367
This issue runs (mostly) parallel with Infinity War #2. Invisible Woman realizes that Mr. Fantastic is acting even more coldly and rudely than usual, and she goes to the encephalizer mind control device that we saw Mr. Fantastic working on last issue. It turns out that Sue went behind Reed's back and asked Tony Stark to construct a second such device, and she uses it to confirm that "Reed" is not who he claims to be.
Meanwhile, the Thing is having coffee with Sharon Ventura. He says that the last time he saw her, she was working with Dr. Doom. That's new information. The last time we saw the Thing see Sharon, it was in Fantastic Four #354, after the TVA adventure when Sharon was with the Fantastic Four, after Doom cured her in issue #350. And then she just disappeared after that (between the Simonson & DeFalco runs). So it seems that after getting back from the time travel adventure, Sharon went back to working for Doom, even though the last the FF and Sharon saw Doom before that, he was seemingly executed by the TVA (Doom of course has appeared since then, so the FF would have known he survived).
Anyway, they don't get much of a conversation because the Thing sees the Puppet Master skulking about and goes out to chase him. As he leaves, we see that Sharon is still working for Doom (or some "master", anyway).
When the Thing catches up with the Puppet Master, the Puppet Master asks how the Thing could "betray" Alicia by not immediately getting back together with her after the whole Skrull replacement business. The Thing starts to say that he's having trouble accepting everything that's happened, but he's then attacked by his Infinity War doppelganger, who is in the Thing's previous pineapple incarnation.
The Thing apparently holds "many" advanced degrees in engineering.
The Puppet Master had a clay figurine (that he presumably was going to use to manipulate the Thing), but he modifies it to look like the doppelganger and he helps the Thing defeat it. It winds up hitting the third rail in the subway, but it disappears "as if he was never there" instead of just dying.
Meanwhile, Invisible Woman activates a robot to protect Franklin in case the Mr. Fantastic doppelganger goes after him, and then she notices Wolverine sneaking around in the FF's building and helps him by deactivating some security measures.
When the Thing gets back to the Four Freedoms Plaza building, Invisible Woman is initially suspicious of him, but uses a portable encephalizer to verify that he's the real Thing, and then they do the same thing with Human Torch. It's always funny when tie-in books like these use scenes from the main book but expand on them in ways that you'd never suspect from just reading the main book. Infinity War #2 starts with Human Torch showing up at the FF's building and saying hello to the Thing and then being brought into the main room with all the gathered heroes. In this issue, a scene is inserted where after the Torch arrives, the Thing grabs him and Invisible Woman runs the encephalizer, which puts a whole different spin on the story. Instead of just being surprised that the room is so full of heroes, he should now be suspicious because any one of them might have been replaced by a doppelganger. And now we know that all the rest of the FF know that Reed has been replaced.
Things then basically play out the way we saw in Infinity War #2, with Wolverine and Daredevil accusing Reed of being a fake (and now we wonder why the rest of the FF didn't step in to confirm it). Then the fight breaks out. We do see Invisible Woman thinking to herself that she can't trust anyone, even Wolverine, and then we see her discovering the gamma bomb and racing to deal with it, but the issue ends as Infinity War #2 does, with the bomb exploding.
Most of the issue is filled by the Thing fight and then the repeat of events from Infinity War #2, so there isn't a lot of new content here. And while the new information does put a new spin on things, that just makes it all the more frustrating because it doesn't lead to anything new. The scene with Wolverine is also weird and pointless. There was no reason why Wolverine couldn't have just arrived with the rest of the X-Men and come to the same conclusion; the whole sequence of him sneaking around in the FF's air ducts has no purpose.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: This runs between Infinity War #1-Infinity War #2. It starts with a scene of the Mr. Fantastic Four doppelganger inviting the X-Men to the meeting, and getting ready to contact the New Warriors and Alpha Flight. So that parallels the invitation scenes in Infinity War #1. The issue ends the same way as Infinity War #2, with the gamma bomb explosion.
Crossover: Infinity War
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I always give a pass to Tom DeFalco Marvel comics, because I think he loves the heck out of the characters, and I feel like he was dealt a bum hand when he became EIC and tried his darndest to keep a certain Stan Lee-esque sensibility to his writing, while all the time playing catch-up with all the Image nonsense that was poisoning the industry at the time. I can't imagine having to compete with something like that. This is a nutty analogy, but I always felt like it'd be like training your whole life to be a classically trained chef only to discover that you were unemployable if you didn't just shut the fuck up and make the Big Macs that everyone wanted at the time. That being said, I deplore all the Infinity crossovers. I get that Infinity Gauntlet was popular, and I remember Thanos Quest being hyped up like crazy, but these stories never appealed to me, and this Infinity War thing felt so fucking forced...it's a case of where the story cold have been told without about ninety percent of the characters depicted involved at all. DeFalco is gasping for air, trying to maintain a coherent story thread for his team while trying to boost sales with Johnny-come-lately storylines, nineties-ing his old-timey team up, and trying to make them relevant in the midst of a dull crossover that made every character that wasn't a Starlin pet IRrelevant by design. What a fucking shameful mess
Posted by: Adam Dale | April 4, 2016 7:34 PM
Tom DeFalco accepted the job of EiC, accepted the offer(?) of writing the Fantastic Four, and did so of his own free will. He hired Starlin and et al to produce Infinity books and crossovers. I'll emphasize that he hired himself to write 4 Fantastic Four issues of said Infinity crossovers. He gets no pass from me.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | April 5, 2016 5:08 AM
This is, of course, all true. I guess what I'm saying is that I just feel a little bad for Tom. I think he's a terrific writer who painted himself into a corner creatively with some incredibly dubious decisions made both as a writer and EiC, but a lot of these decisions look like the moves of someone who is desperate and panicking in a time where the industry was drastically changing more-or-less overnight. Almost everything that happened in the comic industry for a good ten-year stretch or so starting in 1991 (with the noticeable exception of what was going on with Karen Berger's books at DC) made me feel sad. In another time, DeFalco would have probably made some different choices and his FF would have been much better regarded. This is all speculation, and I'm playing a bit of a game of "Let's Pretend", but I enjoyed big chunks of nineties Fantastic Four much more than what was happening concurrently in most of the rest of the MU, like the ten or so disastrous X-books, or their misguided stab at a horror line, the Spider-books and their clone nonsense, Onslaught, etc, etc.
Posted by: Adam Dale | April 5, 2016 9:38 AM
It's funny, because I liked this issue, probably owing to tbe fact at the time that:
1) I wasn't a regular reader of Fantastic Four, with only the occasional dalliance with the book. So Sue "taking charge" instead of being the "oh Reed, darling" type I always imagined her to be came as a pleasant surprise rather than a retread.
2) I didn't read any of the Infinity Whatever crossovers. At all. So I didn't even know that there were repeated scenes (I assumed these type of things fell more into the realm of "thematic tie ins" rather than "essential reading" for the miniseries. To a layman's eyes, fights with doppelgangers is a long ways away from the "cosmic epic" The Infinity stuff looked like it was going to be.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 3, 2016 1:29 AM
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