Fantastic Four #387-388
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #387, Fantastic Four #388
The FF (and various hanger-ons) see a photograph showing that Dr. Doom is still alive (it's really Nathaniel Richards). While they're debating whether or not to investigate, they're visited by a version of Sue who warns them that Ben and Johnny will die.
Meanwhile, Franklin Richards still has Malice in his head and is also being manipulated by Nathaniel Richards, who says that his "son" is coming.
Franklin goes to the FF's building, attacks Ant-Man, and steals the time sled.
The FF debate going after Franklin or investigating Doom, but one thing that is for sure (unless you're Namor) is that it's time for Sue to get a new costume.
The group decides to follow Franklin back in time, and that's when the nostalgia really start pouring in.
The guy in the Invincible Man suit is the Dark Raider. He kills the local Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Girl. The present day FF then decide to go home. Franklin briefly overcame Malice's control during the fight but he slips away at the end. The Watcher decides it's time to act.
After years of DeFalco/Frenz on Thor & Thunderstrike, i'm really tired of the Silver Age pastiche. (Not even pastiche, really. Just... replication.) And it's jarring to see it mixed in with 'so 90s it hurts!' concepts like Psi-Lord and all the Days of Future Ripoffs time-travel. It's one thing to say that Paul Ryan is a good artist (he is! and so is Frenz!) but it's almost worse when good art is used in the service of a series like this.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after the end of Namor #50 (see the Considerations there for more). The Invisible Woman gets a new costume this issue. Silver Surfer #93-97 take place before next arc.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAnt-Man (Scott Lang), Aron the Watcher, Dark Raider, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Llyra, Lyja the Lazerfist, Malice (Sue Storm's psionic entity), Nathaniel Richards, Psi-Lord, Sub-Mariner, Thing, Uatu the Watcher
"After years of DeFalco/Frenz on Thor & Thunderstrike, i'm really tired of the Silver Age pastiche."
Perfectly put. Fantastic Four is practically unreadable at this point, which is a shame.
Posted by: Bonez | March 23, 2018 1:27 PM
The book felt very fatalistic during this arc, and I remember wondering if it was leading up to a series finale with #400. I was still pretty new to Marvel, not aware of the status quo resets, and was interested by the contrast between the current team and their early days (and scanning through the issue again now that I've read the classic runs, I'm amused by Sue's irritation with her dependent younger self). Bringing in the Silver Age Avengers also made for a less rout Misunderstanding Fight than if everyone just went up against their earlier counterpart.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 23, 2018 4:40 PM
IIRC, that line about "I didn't specify which son" was part of a plotline that Nathaniel Richards was (maybe) Dr Doom's biological father, an idea that just sort of withered away. DeFalco really wrote Nathaniel as a complete twatwaffle.
Posted by: Andrew | March 23, 2018 5:31 PM
@Andrew - A later story clarified that statement by having Nathaniel claim that he was the biological father of Kristoff Vernard, not Victor von Doom. However, that claim has never been proven. Then again, it hasn't been disproven either, so who knows?
Posted by: Don Campbell | March 23, 2018 5:59 PM
Thanks, Don. I misremembered because of the age difference, I guess. Nathaniel would have been lost in that alternate timeline when Vernard was conceived, I think. But he's a time-traveler so I guess anything's possible...
Posted by: Andrew | March 23, 2018 6:22 PM
Since Kristoff is older than Franklin, it might be remotely possible that Kristoff was conceived before Nathaniel entered the alternate reality of the Warlord, but Marvel time is so elastic and ill-defined that I wouldn't try to make that case, nor am I particularly motivated to. Wasn't it also hinted that Nathaniel might've been Victor's dad? I can't remember. Nathaniel, Franklin, and, later, Valeria, are the time traveling wrenches in the works that makes FF continuity completely fall apart for me. Too many cooks, basically: Byrne, DeFalco, and Hickman, and they all had different and inconsistent ideas about the Nathaniel character. At first I was tempted to think of Hickman's Nathaniel as being a much younger time-traveling version of Byrne's Nathaniel, who was in turn younger than the DeFalco version. But I can't make it work. Some think of Hickman's Nathaniel as yet another alternate reality's version, who came into the 616 reality through Reed's alternate reality bridge (maybe). But then Hickman (and previously other writers-- Claremont with Valeria? And I forget who-all) had them all hopping around in time so much that it's either ( 1.) impossible to reconcile without resorting to multiple alternate timelines for resolution, or ( 2.) so complicated that any such resolutions would be too convoluted to be generally understandable. So I've stopped caring so much-- I think my personal head-canon for the FF has to end right before DeFalco's run begins. Or my head explodes.
Posted by: Holt | March 23, 2018 7:10 PM
The guy in the Invincible Man suit is the Dark Raider.
At the time this story was published I had only a passing knowledge of certain past eras of the FF, so I didn't realize this until a number of years later. Now I wonder if DeFalco had the Dark Raider in the Invincible Man costume because he was trying to get long-time readers to think that it might be the Super-Skrull or Doctor Doom. Of course, there was a *third* character who also wore the Invincible Man costume, and that was indeed who the Dark Raider turned out to be... well, kind of sort of.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 23, 2018 9:46 PM
It was in Fantastic Four #395 that Nathaniel Richards told Susan Richards that, after one of his campaigns within the timestream ended rather badly,
Posted by: Don Campbell | March 24, 2018 10:26 PM
As a character, Nathaniel Richards has gone through three major stages. First, John Byrne introduced a father who was kind and loving but who disappeared three years before the FF gained their powers. Ten years later, the FF learned that Nathaniel's time travel attempt had left him trapped on an alternate Earth. Reed and this now white-haired Nathaniel were happily reunited but Nathaniel decided to stay there to raise his young son.
Next, Tom DeFalco had that older white-haired Nathaniel return to kidnap Franklin in order to prevent some dark fate. This Nathaniel was arrogant and power-hungry and it was revealed that, contrary to what Byrne had established, he and Reed had NEVER had a good relationship. This Nathaniel had an "ends justify the means" attitude that made him untrustworthy.
Most recently, Jonathan Hickman returned the kind and loving Nathaniel but had him disappear from Reed's life in 1951. Later, while working for the Brotherhood of the Shield, Nathaniel was caught in an accident that gave him time travel powers and resulted in EVERY version of Nathaniel in the multiverse being drawn to a distant future Earth where Immortus forced them all to fight each other to the death until only one was left. According to this storyline, the DeFalco version was NOT the father of Reed-616 but it's unclear if Hickman considered his brown-haired Nathaniel to be the same as the white-haired Byrne version.
Posted by: Don Campbell | March 24, 2018 10:56 PM
The nadir of the FF...until Millar destroys Reed's character beyond repai in Civil War, that is.
I think FF was the only book that actually improved, both story and art, with Heroes Reborn. DeFalco was unreadable - and especially insulting, following Simonson's perfect, but far too brief, stint on the book before he and Louise were run off from Marvel.
Posted by: Bob | March 25, 2018 12:20 AM
Thanks for the breakdown Don. Among the Nathaniels who were killed in Hickman's SHIELD series was one who had gray hair and (I think) a monocle. Some have suggested that that one was the Byrne/DeFalco version, but the evidence is arguably too circumstantial. There is also an issue of Hickman's FF in which Hickman's Nathaniel tells a version of the same story to Reed, but I'm not convinced that Reed's Nathaniel is the same Nathaniel as the one who appeared in the SHIELD series-- I don't put much faith in the truth of any of stories any Nathaniel tells Reed, or really in the truth of anything that any Nathaniel tells anyone. There's also a Hickman FF story in which Nathaniel goes back in time and visits Reed, Ben, and Victor in the days when they're all still in college, and they all have a big adventure together. That story in particular seems impossible for me to reconcile with preexisting FF continuity. It seems like either ( a.) that story must have happened in an alternate reality, per the old rules of time travel, or ( b.) that story is being used to "edit" or retcon the old reality into some apocryphal retconned new "main" Marvel reality, for some mysterious story purposes which are not at all clear to me. My bias favors the alternate reality solution, and in my way of thinking most of these stories are only resolvable via alternate reality solutions. DeFalco's run to me is an alternate reality which I've lost track of, and which Marvel has also lost track of.
Posted by: Holt | March 25, 2018 12:34 AM
I think FF was the only book that actually improved, both story and art, with Heroes Reborn.
Posted by: Dan Spector | March 25, 2018 3:59 PM
I concede the point, Dan.
Lien/Portacio Iron Man was pretty awful, but at least it did get us started on the path back to readable, adult Tony under Busiek.
Posted by: Bob | March 25, 2018 11:03 PM
Comments are now closed.
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