Characters Appearing: Annihilus, Blastaar, Brute (Alt. Reed Richards), Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing
Fantastic Four Unlimited #3
Issue(s): Fantastic Four Unlimited #3
The FF respond to an emergency alarm and go to the Negative Zone where they fight the usual Annihilus and Blastaar, but to spice things up a bit they also fight the Brute.
The art is more cartoony and less Liefeldian in this issue than the previous two issues of FF Unlimited, like it's daring us to even pretend to take it seriously. Even though Alex Trimpe is only credited with layouts, i wonder if that is his influence.
I still think it's pretty awful, but i like it better thinking that it's being done tongue-in-cheek.
Annihilus goes on a bit about his origin and the Tyannans. Everything about these issues works against me actually wanting to read them, so i'll just be lazy and republish the full telling instead of trying to summarize it.
The Brute is actually working with the Tyannans now.
But after various betrayals and whatevers, they decide to seal themselves off from the outside world again.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: We continue to have an unscarred Thing paired with Invisible Woman in her new costume (and no sign of tension between Sue and Reed). To make matters more confusing, a footnote says that this story "takes place shortly before the epochal events of Fantastic Four #375", which continues directly from Fantastic Four #371-374, the story in which both the Thing and the Invisible Woman's changes happen. When Mr. Fantastic sounds an alarm, the Human Torch wonders (jokes?) if the Feds are about to bust in and haul him away for burning down Empire State University. The seemingly casual way in which the Torch brings that up suggests to me that this takes place after the initial legal danger is over and Matt Murdock and Makio Yakaki have offered ESU a settlement. So i think it's safe to ignore that (impossible) footnote and place this between FF #375-376.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
FFU #3 is such over-the-top fun. Trimpe's bizarre artwork definitely suits the weirdness of the Negative Zone. And Thomas seems to have decided to just script as melodramatically as he possibly can. He certainly gives the Thing some great lines.
"No problem, boss-man! I've already got our next Neg-Zone trip all penciled in! Uh... there IS a February 29th in the year 2094, ain't there?"
And Thomas' dialogue for the Brute is just so wonderfully over-the-top. If there are no backgrounds in many of Trimpe's panels it's probably because the Brute chewed up all the scenery!
"My Sue -- hurt in the space flight that made me a Brute -- was still in a coma the day Counter-Earth was destroyed! How can I drown my SORROW -- my RAGE -- at that terrible fact -- except in an ocean of CARNAGE AND CONQUEST?"
Well, okay, I suppose your mileage may vary :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 7, 2016 10:26 PM
In the third scan you posted, Reed is using his stretching power to create fake muscles for himself, right? Because I find it impossible to believe a guy who spents most of his time in the lab would look like a bodybuilder on steroids.
Posted by: Tuomas | September 8, 2016 6:53 AM
That's the Brute (an alternate dimension Reed Richards) in his human form.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 8, 2016 7:19 AM
Posted by: Tuomas | September 8, 2016 7:39 AM
The Brute in that third scan... holy crap. I really don't understand how a veteran artist like Trimpe could even force himself to draw like that..?
BTW. Has there ever been a Negative Zone story that didn't feature Blastaar and / or Annihilus?
Posted by: Piotr W | September 8, 2016 3:42 PM
@Piotr: Black Panther (Hudlin run) 26-27 deals with indigenous Negative Zone beings whose existence has been impinged upon by Stark's secret prison.
Posted by: cullen | September 8, 2016 8:43 PM
There's also that Doug Moench FF story with a brand-new Negative Zone baddie, Stygorr, but that's because Moench was prohibited from using Annihilus.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 8, 2016 9:28 PM
So... basically, Negative Zone stories equal Blastaar and Annihilus. Meh. What a waste...
Posted by: Piotr W | September 10, 2016 11:37 AM
For what it's worth, Fantastic Four #251-256 does end with an Annihilus story, but John Byrne uses the rest of it for some pure sci-fi exploration stories unrelated to the usual baddies.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 10, 2016 12:44 PM
I got this just for the return appearance of the Brute, who has appeared in FANTASTIC FOUR I#177-283, my all-time favorite FF story. But the art...egads.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | September 10, 2016 4:14 PM
Instead of pushing this issue forward past the footnote, can't we just assume the unscarred Thing is an art error? It's not like Trimpe or Thomas were at the top of their game at this point.
Posted by: Jeff | September 11, 2016 12:00 PM
But the problem is that the footnote makes no sense- the footnote claims that this issue takes place before issue 375 and Johnny references burning down ESU in issue 371 in the story. There's no time after Johnny burns down ESU that all 4 of them are together until the fight at the end of issue 374 and the FF are teleported directly from that fight to the moon for the battle with Doom in issue 375.
Posted by: Michael | September 11, 2016 12:06 PM
When I read this issue, it felt to me like the story was trying to imply that at some point shortly before the events of FF #374, the Human Torch was somehow able to get back into Four Freedoms Plaza without the authorities finding out, at which point Reed decided that the team needed to take an urgent trip into the Negative Zone. Then, right after the team got back to Earth, the Torch left FF HQ again, at which point Spider-Man gathered the Secret Defenders / New FF to look for him. Yes, that really does not work, but that's how I interpreted the intentions of Roy Thomas and/or Mike Rockwitz. And, no, I don't know where FFU #1 and #2 would also fit in. It's sort of a mess.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 12, 2016 11:18 AM
@Piotr: Reed's first foray into the Negative Zone--in FF #51--is Annihilus/Blastaar-free. It's caled "Sub-Space" in the story.
Posted by: Shar | September 12, 2016 3:00 PM
In case people are wondering when the Brute's next appearance is, he next pops up in the Paradise X: Heralds issues.
Posted by: D09 | September 30, 2016 1:28 AM
I seem to vaguely recall reading a terrible X-related mini-series in the early 2000s' while at Border's with my then-girlfriend in which one of the female X-characters was in love with Annihilus, who was, inexplicably, a normal white guy who someone evolved into Annihilius. I wonder how that contrasts with the origin given here.
Posted by: Wis | January 28, 2017 2:26 AM
@Wis: I looked up Annihilus;s entry on Wikipedia. According to that, the events you describe were from the Blink miniseries, which was set in the Age of Apocalypse alternate reality.
Posted by: Ben Herman | January 28, 2017 5:48 AM
Thanks Ben. I, er, suppose I could have done that. :/ But I'm grateful you did.
Posted by: Wis | January 29, 2017 1:32 AM
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