Fantastic Four #224-225
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #224, Fantastic Four #225
If i were to say to you, "lost civilization of technologically advanced vikings, powered by the tears of their giant blind god" you'd clearly agree that it's the sort of thing that the Fantastic Four should be discovering. The problem here is that the story lingers too long and doesn't really go anywhere. Even after the FF solve the main conflict, the story isn't over and we're forced to endure it all over again a second time.
The FF are made aware of the vikings when a red mist floats into New York, causing their powers to intermittently fail. For the Thing, this means some of his individual rocks start turning into skin, and that skeeves me out.
After dumping Franklin with Alicia, the FF track the fog to the source and that's when we meet our techno-vikings.
After a fight while their powers are still on the fritz...
...the FF decide to surrender and are taken to the viking god.
The god, Korgon is dying, and needs the FF to restore his "darkfield illumination" energy so that his tears can provide energy for his people "at least one last time". He recently tried to replenish his energy but had a seizure, releasing the red fog that affected the FF's powers.
Upon learning that Korgon (who is really an ancient viking that was mutated by a meteor), plans to kill them if they can't cure him, Sue starts griping that she just wants to stay home and be normal.
Other than Johnny's "Easy, sis!", no one responds to her.
As part of the conversation with Korgon, Reed speculates that the accident that gave the FF their powers also increased his intelligence.
It's only speculation, but that's a pretty significant revelation if true. I'm of two minds about it. Reed's intelligence gets more and more extreme over time, and if it were explained to be super-natural it would actually make more sense. But it also takes something away from Reed; his intelligence is an aspect of his character that is independent of his powers and is a large part of what makes him unique. This would put him in the same category as, say, the Leader (and it would certainly give Dr. Doom something to scoff at).
(And i wish Reed's intelligence would cause him to use the phrase "begs the question" correctly. It raises the question, Reed.)
Anyway, Reed is able to cure Korgon, and there is much rejoicing...
...and even tripping the light fantastic (whuh?).
But it's not over yet. Korgon now wants Reed to kill him because he's tired of being an immortal. But another viking overhears that conversation and doesn't like it so he messes with the machinery, causing it to make Korgon extra powerful and crazy instead.
That's when Odin sends Thor in to show these Vikings who they're supposed to be worshipping.
On paper, this should have worked fine. Again (Sue aside), Moench writes the FF characters fine. Plotwise, this should have been great; a weird civilization for the FF to discover. I can't say exactly why it doesn't work for me. One thing is the pacing. It takes just about all of issue #224 just for the FF to get to the vikings, and then the first few pages of #225 are wasted with a lengthy recap, and then there's what feels like a tacked on coda at the end. But there's also the fact that there's really not much for the Fantastic Four to do in this story. That was a problem with last issue's New Salem plot, too. That problem was solved with magic. This one is solved first by Reed's science, and then by an intervention from Odin. So the rest of the Fantastic Four aren't really involved in the story, aside from some gratuitous fighting. That might be fine; the mere discovery of this strange civilization could potentially be interesting enough. But it doesn't work for me. And here's where i again wonder if the problem is partially Sienkiewicz's. At this point in his career, he's clearly got talent and does a great job depicting things realistically. But maybe that's the problem; there's little sense of the grandeur and weirdness necessary to make this memorable.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Thor is in Asgard at the start of FF #225; the MCP places this between Thor #310-311, but i have this placed earlier than that, during a period between Thor #302-303 where there are also a number of Avengers appearances.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAlicia Masters, Franklin Richards, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Odin, Thing, Thor
One thing that you didn't mention about Sue's characterization- a while after the scan you posted of her wanting to be normal, she's dancing on a table for the Vikings. Moench really did not have a good grasp of Sue.
Posted by: Michael | July 5, 2013 3:42 PM
"Trip the light fantastic" (dance) is a traditional misquote of Milton. There's a page on its history at Wikipedia.
Posted by: Luke Blanchard | April 23, 2015 11:35 PM
Ran across this fascinating interview with Len Wein and Marv Wolfman where they both cite this as the first Fantastic Four issue they could not read. The interview's really a gem, especially, when they're voicing their opinions on Byrne.
Posted by: gfsdf gfbd (G Something) | February 26, 2017 2:01 PM
"... fascinating interview with Len Wein and Marv Wolfman where they both cite this as the first Fantastic Four issue they could not read."
I agree, this is one fun interview: http://www.kleefeldoncomics.com/2012/06/old-wolfmanwein-interview.html
Posted by: Holt | December 25, 2017 8:45 PM
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