Fantastic Four #158-159
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #158, Fantastic Four #159
The lady with the cabbage leaf on her head is Valeria, princess of the 5th Dimension. In that Strange Tales story, the Torch saved Valeria's kingdom from Zemu, now spelled Xemu.
Since (per Valeria) Johnny hasn't been visiting the 5th dimension regularly, and (apparently!) the rest of the 5th Dimensioners are incapable of defending themselves, Xemu is now in charge again. And he's got a plan that involves bringing a sound amplification horn to Black Bolt and forcing him to shout into it, to destroy the world. I don't personally see the upside in that, but if you've got a sound amplification horn, clearly you're gonna want to find out what happens if Black Bolt uses it.
The Thunderhorn, by the way, is a SASER weapon. That's like a LASER, but with sound instead of light.
(Just a personal gripe: that line from Karnak saying "the Human Torch spoke of you...". Really? Out of all the Torch's many many adventures, the one that Johnny talked about, and the one that Karnak remembers, is about some dude that he defeated in about 8 pages? It's pure info dumping, and it would have been much cooler to have the rest of the characters completely befuddled by this invasion and Johnny Storm being the only one who really knows these guys.)
They also have Lethargizers. I'm fairly certain someone pointed one of those at me back in 1991 and never turned it off.
There's a few cracks about the "5th Dimension", but i kind of like the fact that for the most part the characters just accept it and no one tries to come up with a scientific explanation for it. It's just another dimension. The 5th one.
To make it clear that Valeria is being re-introduced as a love interest for Johnny Storm, this story starts off with Johnny striking out at a bar...
...and then having Crystal's husband Quicksilver show up at the Baxter Building to pick a fight (he's been sent by Xemu to bring back Medusa, thinking that he'll be able to use her to induce Black Bolt to use the horn).
In addition to the introduction of Val (which, despite the fact that i'm playing it up here, won't really go anywhere), this story, which is Roy Thomas' first full plot after returning to the series, introduces a major reset of the status quo. It starts with the Invisible Girl debating re-joining the team full time. It seems she was also considering becoming a private detective, which really would be a good move for her.
Then Reed refuses to let Sue go on their mission to the Inhuman's Great Refuge, because she's only a part-time member and has to take care of Franklin.
Later, it turns out that she stowed away anyway, and winds up saving the day. First, she invisibly tells Black Bolt to hold out because help is coming, which i thought was a nice use of her basic power to turn herself invisible.
Then, since Xemu's use of the Horn destroyed a Chinese military installation and the Chinese had sent some bombers to look for the source of the attack, Sue manages to turn the entire Great Refuge invisible. That's a really powerful use of her powers, but pains are taken to let us know that it was only possible because she had attuned herself to the Horn and so it served as an amplifier (however, we'll later learn that her powers were permanently increased by the Horn).
But with that, she now returns to the Fantastic Four permanently. Medusa quits, and Johnny gets back into his blue costume.
In addition to just a back to basics approach, part of the reason Johnny is given his classic costume back is because the Golden Age Torch was now appearing in the Human Torch reprints as well as the Invaders, and they wanted to avoid confusion between the two.
Roy Thomas-ism: Should Gorgon be spouting colloquialisms like "Another 'man-on-horseback' has developed saddle-sores"?
Favorite panel of the arc:
Certainly an unusual set of characters to bring back, and some interesting developments for the team. The Medusa/Red Torch period, which was initiated by Thomas, lasted quite a while (since #132), but at this point it's nice seeing the core team back together.
This story was originally intended for Giant-Size Fantastic Four #5, but Buckler was running late so they instead took the part of the story that had been finished for that issue and ran it here, and ran the rest next issue, and put some reprints in the Giant-Size issue.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Giant-Size FF #4 (per the reference below), and i've also got this after Marvel Two-In-One #8-10, and Marvel Team-up #32.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAlicia Masters, Black Bolt, Crystal, Gorgon, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Karnak, Medusa, Mr. Fantastic, Phineas (5th Dimension), Quicksilver, Thing, Triton, Valeria (5th Dimension), Xemu (5th Dimension)
Sue as a private detective may be a reference to the 1940s comic strip "Invisible Scarlet O'Neil".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 4, 2013 6:19 PM
Per Back Issue #74: Medusa was removed specifically to get her back into the Inhumans series(or Giant-Size Inhumans, as it was supposed to start out with).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 22, 2014 6:33 PM
The "Sue Storm, Private Detective" line is a reference to an abandoned plotline. In Legion Outpost #7(Spring 1974), a news item said that an upcoming Gerry Conway story would have the FF evicted from the Baxter Building, Ben and Johnny sharing a Greenwich Village apartment, and Sue opening a detective agency with other unidentified Marvel superheroines assisting her.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 7, 2018 3:42 PM
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