Fantastic Four #236
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #236
...and given a new set of memories where they never got their powers. Except we, the readers don't get all that information at once so we get to see it unfold like a classic sci-fi story as the team slowly get their memories back.
For Doom, this is all about subjugating Reed, making the professors at the university he works at think he's stupid, etc.
For the Puppet Master, it's really about giving Alicia a happy life where Ben Grimm isn't the Thing so they can be together.
So when Doom's revenge schemes interfere with Ben and Alicia's happiness...
...the Puppet Master turns on Doom. It's an interesting take on the Puppet Master, indicating that if it weren't for the fact that Ben Grimm was the Thing he'd be ok with their relationship. In the end, Doom's mind is transferred into a tiny puppet and he's stuck in the tiny town full of puppets under the Puppet Master's control.
Ben considers staying in the town, on the grounds that he and Alicia can have a life together there.
He's convinced otherwise, and allows his puppet body to be transformed into the Thing, and it's worth noting that even though Alicia has sight in her puppet body, she still says she loves him.
It's a great story that really gets to focus on characterization. But there's some nice super-heroics at the end, too.
There's a second feature that the cover advertises as an "all-new FF blockbuster by Stan (The Man) Lee and Jack (King) Kirby!", but it's really a rendering of Kirby's storyboards from the Fantastic Four cartoon show (the Challenge of Dr. Doom episode). I'm sure some people felt that was a cheat. Certainly Jack Kirby did which is why there's a blank space on the cover next to Stan Lee.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
The backup story was announced with plot by Byrne/Shooter, script by Stan Lee, art by Kirby, and inks by a lot of 1960s FF inkers. When asked about this shortly after the announcement, Kirby said he'd never heard of it and wouldn't draw it even if asked.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 30, 2012 6:58 PM
Good use of the Puppet Master here. He's a very limited villain, and little can be done with him, but this story is creative and shows his various sides well.
Posted by: Chris | September 4, 2013 10:05 PM
A truly great anniversary issue. And it fits with Byrne's theme of back to the basics. He took the FF back to being cosmic explorers, and this fits in as something that would have happened in the Twilight Zone - that some kind of strange appeal that made the original FF so different from DC's books at the time.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 1, 2015 6:40 PM
Thought there would be one more significant point for the first usage of Liddleville (even if not for the 20th anniversary).
The cover is neat; I love just seeing Shulkie poking her head through the fab 4 like "maybe I can join them someday..."
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 1, 2015 8:11 PM
One has to ask how the revelation in #245 clashes with the characterization in this issue. Here, Alicia unhestitantly professes her love for Ben in his Thing form, yet two issues further, we see her hesitate when the possibility for Ben to regain his human form makes itself apparent.
Of course, that may have been the entire point, but we have to remember that the FF and Alicia aren't working from their actual memories.
Byrne had such a fantastic run on the FF.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 2, 2015 10:40 PM
This was one of my first FF comic books when I was a kid. I think it does a great job at talking about keeping greatness suppressed, beaten down, as Doom does to Reed--about a reluctance to going back to being heroes. I think this would make a GREAT film--both parts. we know these characters' backstories---but start them like this, when they are not super, but have had their memories wiped--and you have a great story.
Posted by: Jerome Stueart | August 5, 2015 5:44 PM
That's the best FF movie idea yet!
Posted by: Cecil | August 7, 2015 3:28 AM
I've been gathering Bryne's Visionary books and book 1 has been delayed, yet again. I eagerly want it for this issue especially.
Posted by: david banes | December 28, 2015 2:10 PM
This story owes more than a little to Frederic Pohl's classic short story, The Tunnel Under the World.
BTW, the whole bit about Ben wondering if Alicia would still love him if she wasn't blind never made sense to me. He doesn't look that bad, but he must feel awful.
Posted by: Andrew | January 17, 2017 10:33 PM
@Andrew- it's not rational but Ben is never as "rational" as Reed.
Posted by: Michael | January 17, 2017 11:59 PM
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