Fantastic Four annual #13
The story is pretty simple. Beautiful works of art - including a statue that Alicia made of Agatha Harkness as a young woman (there's a little aside where Alicia seemingly doesn't even realize that Harkness is in fact an old woman, the implication being that she sculpts people based on how she reads their souls)...
...are disappearing from all over New York. And so are all the ugly and blind people. It turns out that the Mole Man has been bringing all of them to his underground kingdom. The FF show up for the rescue but it turns out the people, who feel rejected by normal society, want to stay there. And the Mole Man only wanted to replicate the artwork and intended to return it.
It's not exactly expertly executed by Mantlo and Buscema, but it's a good story.
But i'm a bit distracted thanks to the fact that this issue has some fundamental discrepancies with Fantastic Four #201 (unrelated to the Mole Man plot) thanks to the fact that Mantlo and Wolfman obviously weren't coordinating with each other, despite Wolfman being listed as the Editor for both books.
The issue starts in New York, with the Human Torch cheering the fact that the FF are a team again (note, as of FF #200, not #201)
A little later, Reed says that the Pogo Plane is "in mothballs".
That gives you a sense of when this annual was scripted; Reed took the Plane back from SHIELD in Fantastic Four #197, and it's how the team got home from Latveria in #201.
Later, the FF are walking around trying to figure out where they are going to live, checking the real estate section of the paper to see if the Baxter Building is available.
And saying that all their equipment is still with SHIELD.
The problem with all of this is that in Fantastic Four #201, the FF are shown to still be in Latveria. They take the Pogo Plane home, and immediately begin negotiations with the landlord of the Baxter Building to get their floors back. The next day Reed is having the equipment that was in storage at SHIELD reinstalled.
My first thought was that the "day" between beginning the negotiation with Mr. Collins and Reed beginning the installation might have actually been longer than that, and this story takes place in between. But the FF wouldn't be looking in the paper to see if the Baxter Building was available in the meantime, and their entire conversation about housing would have went differently.
The Marvel Index solves this problem by saying that the Baxter Building was badly damaged by the haywire equipment in #201, and so the FF had to move out for a while. But that wasn't evident from the story; Reed says the equipment is fine, and the team is shown relaxing at their headquarters at the end of the story. And sending all of the equipment back to SHIELD would be really extreme. Even more compellingly, all the talk here about where they are going to live makes even less sense. You barely might be able to say that the FF was checking the papers to see if the Baxter Building was advertising if they were still negotiating with Collins and they wanted to see if he was still looking for alternate tenants, but there'd be no reason for them to do that if the FF already had the lease and were just waiting for repairs.
So my solution here hinges on the fact that Alicia Masters doesn't show up in FF #201, even though she had been with the FF in Latveria prior to that issue. The Index just gives her a behind-the-scenes appearance for issue #201; she was there, but we just didn't see her. But i'm taking the view that the FF went home, with Alicia but without the Pogo Plane, after #200. And then returned to Latveria without Alicia for Zorba's celebratory coronation, and then took the Plane home. Why? Maybe they wanted a nice relaxing cruise after all their trouble fighting Doom. Maybe Nick Fury, who appeared earlier in the Doom story, wanted a debriefing so SHIELD gave them a lift home. Or maybe something was wrong with the Pogo Plane.
So i'm suggesting that this annual takes place before Fantastic Four #201.
There are two minor problems with this. The first is Reed describing the Pogo Plane as being in "mothballs". That suggests long term storage. But i think that can be disregarded as colorful phrasing; they put the ship in a garage in Latveria. In any event, that phrase doesn't really work with any of the solutions. The second problem is the Torch saying here that the FF are a team again even though that doesn't officially happen until #201. But i think that would be a reasonable assumption for him to make after the events of FF #200 (indeed, that's the issue referenced); he might not yet have heard that Reed still wasn't sure about reforming the team.
Some other random bits:
The Mole Man is another FF opponent that gets to completely disregard Sue's invisibility power.
Reed oddly telling a taxi cab driver to bill the fare to Tony Stark. I guess they've worked out an arrangement? And the guy's right about the difficulty that would be involved in that.
Sue and Reed fighting because she followed some Moloids without the rest of the team.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: I'm placing this before Fantastic Four #201, and therefore before Fantastic Four annual #12. See above for detail. Cameos by Daredevil, D.A. Tower, and Lt. Keating, all interested in the disappearances caused by the Mole Man. The MCP places DD between Daredevil #154-155.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
Marv Wolfman was the originally announced writer for this issue.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 3, 2013 2:16 PM
I was also bothered in this about references to Agatha Harkness coming down from Whisper Hill. That was destroyed in (I believe) 184.
Posted by: Jake Amidon | September 13, 2014 10:47 AM
Kurt Busiek had Wanda comment on that in Avengers 10 and attribute it to the magic of Wanda's house.
Posted by: Michael | September 13, 2014 11:22 AM
Curiously, there are also multiple references to the Mole Man's yellow subterraneans as being pink---perhaps confusing them with the Leader's little critters?
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | July 6, 2016 11:02 AM
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