Fantastic Four #308
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #308
But before that, let's see what that chambermaid is so upset about.
Sure, i'm upset by Arabian Television Man too.
Well, at least he's not throwing in any "By Allah!"s along with his incessant TV jargon.
The Torch uses his heat absorption powers to speed up the healing of an electrical burn left by this "Fasaud".
Letter writers will react to this by asking if Johnny could have cured the boy from Fantastic Four #285, but it's pretty clear that Johnny's ability here only has minor applications.
Johnny finds the rest of the FF wrapping up some of Mr. Fantastic inventions, and gets them to head over to the CBS building where Fasaud is on a rampage, after reporter Gregory Dunbar.
If you're waiting for the Torch to get betrayed, don't worry; there's a countdown:
Fasaud is taken out...
...and here comes the betrayal.
Ok, well, that's not actually a betrayal. That's a poor woman that was gang raped having some psychological trouble. The question of whether she's ready to be on a super-hero team is a legitimate one, but i think we might have oversold this.
Crystal saves the Torch, in case you were worried.
Anyway, i guess we have to go into the origin of this Fasuad guy. Mild mannered oil minister for the country of "Aquiria" had some of his shady dealings exposed by the reporter Dunbar, at which point he was bitten by a radioactive television camera.
Sure, i can totally picture a wealthy oil minister going after a reporter by himself with a knife.
The Thing talks to Sharon about her failure to save Johnny, and somehow it turns into a conversation about how they should be dating.
Meanwhile, since they are in a news studio, Crystal gets interviewed on her experience returning to the FF.
And that's basically the end of the issue. Kind of weird, with a lot of wrap up after the defeat of Fasaud. Not necessarily badly paced; it's actually kind of interesting to see so much time spent on the aftermath. But unfortunately that wasn't the last of Fasaud.
Fasaud is pretty lame, and i guess shows the limits of Steve Englehart's ability to create a new and "relevant" villain for the 80s. As far as Middle Eastern stereotypes go, i suppose this could have been a lot worse. It's the TV lingo that is more grating to me. But he's lame regardless. If he was a Buscema/Sinnott design, i'm extra disappointed.
Also disappointing is the handling of Sharon. I don't know that we ever needed to go down a "female hero is gang-raped and now hates all men" storyline. Actually, i do know, and the answer is we didn't. But if we have to, a lot more delicate writing needs to be done here. Sharon's trauma is not from the distant past; it just happened prior to her arrival in this book. If she's emotionally crippled because of it, that's fair enough. I think we're all a little emotionally crippled after watching Englehart's treatment of women. But if she's going to be emotionally crippled, then what in the holy hell is she doing on a super-hero team? Why does anyone think that's a good idea? And i seriously don't mean to slut-shame here, but i can't imagine someone that was gang raped and now desperately recoils from the touch of all men wearing the outfit Sharon wears. If a female character wants to own and embrace her sexuality, that's fine. But i can't see someone that is still so scarred walking around with her thighs and butt exposed. Anyway, that's secondary to the main point, which is that the woman is clearly suffering and really ought to be getting help, not trying to participate in a team where physical contact is a necessity. And certainly not getting faux help disguising come-ons.
The lettercol in issue #314 has an apology for Fasuad:
The character of Fasaud was never meant to be taken as a slur against people of the Arab race, and we apologize to anyone who was offended by his admittedly stereotypical "Arab look". Sometimes, those of us in the comics business get so involved in telling an exciting story we fail to see the "big picture." We would, however, like to point out that although Fasaud was a stereotypical Arab villain, here at Marvel we have characters who are stereotypical heroes - the Arabian Knight, from the pages of the HULK, and Legion, from NEW MUTANTS. Again, we didn't mean any harm, and we will try to be more cautious in the future.
Wow, when the Arabian Knight is your defense, you know you kinda stepped in it. Also, Legion is a hero?
Steve Englehart's comments about this character are less apologetic on his website: "When I created a villain named 'Fasaud,' it was only because the name was cool. Who knew then that almost all the terrorists involved in 9/11 would be Saudis?"
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Marvels: Eye of the Camera #5 shows this scene happening before Valerie Cooper's press conference announcing the Mutant Registration Act in Uncanny X-Men #224. The next couple of issues continue to the Fasaud story but there's a break between this issue and the beginning of next one.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
What an absolutely bonkers Silver Age-style origin story for Fassaud, at a time when Peter David was beginning to deal with Bruce Banner's psyche, Chris Claremont had been writing Uncanny X-Men for 13 years and we'd had stories like 'Kraven's Last Hunt' the year before this. And Ms. Marvel's understandable fear of men is shown in really inappropriate and exaggerated ways, or, if she was THAT averse to any bodily contact with a man, why join a superhero team with two men as members?
Posted by: Harry | May 8, 2014 4:56 PM
I think Englehart sometimes gets just a bit too much flack for his portrayals of women.
Don't get me wrong--there are definitely some questionable things, and some stuff with unfortunate implications. But I think in his own way, Englehart actually tries to be something of a feminist.
Look at his original run on AVENGERS. At the time Englehart took over, there had been a total of three women associated with the team (Wasp, Wanda and Black Widow). Englehart doubled the number of female Avengers by adding Mantis, Moondragon and Hellcat!
He also made the Scarlet Witch more powerful. In the early days, Wanda tended to use up her hex energy very quickly. Englehart had her study magic with Agatha Harkness to expand the range of her powers, as well as give her increased control.
He took Patsy Walker--who started out as a teen romance character and later became a housewife--and had her find new strength within herself and become a stronger and more independent woman.
He increased the number of women in the WCA by adding Firebird to the cast. And his portrayal of Mockingbird was fantastic, and he made her more than just `Hawkeye`s wife` and showed that she had something to contribute and could hold her own alongside the rest of the team.
Although his portrayal of Sharon Ventura gets off to a rocky start with the gang rape aftermath, she eventually develops into a very interesting character as well and a welcome addition to the FF dynamic.
There are certainly flaws with some of Englehart`s work with his women characters. All I`m saying is let`s also give him some credit for what he did get right, and for having some good intentions, even if the execution sometimes came out flawed.
Posted by: Dermie | May 20, 2014 10:47 PM
I always wondered if Fasaud was intended by Englehart to be a front, the guise of some other villain!? What clued me into this was Englehart presenting his full name as Farouk Al-Fasaud. That is, Farouk means "Truth" so it sort of sounds like his full name means Truth the Façade.
That and his form which was supposedly electrical, had too geometric a design to be something created by natural energy.
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 11, 2016 1:48 AM
Fasaud is being used as a front, as we'll see int he next issue or two. The idea is that his turn to a flashy supervillain allows Aqiria to disavow him while secretly using him to advance their sinister dealings with the U.S. government.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | September 22, 2016 5:31 PM
Sorry, Dermie, but you're way off imo. Certainly, being averse to men after becoming a victim of sexual violence is something that definitely can happen, but that's some serious PTSD happening. For Englehart to frame it as a betrayal of her teammates, and to make that 'betrayal' the hook of that particular issue...it would have been less misogynistic if he had just had made an all-male FF lineup. Englehart here and in WCA seems like he's trying to do some 'men's rights' deconstruction of post-Claremont 80s Marvel gender dynamics. Inexcusable.
Posted by: George Lochinski | December 5, 2016 3:33 PM
Johnny didn't "heal" the chambermaid's burn, he just used his heat-control powers to absorb a lot of the leftover heat out of the burn. It had an analgesic effect, as well as slowing the ongoing tissue degeneration that always takes place in the aftermath of a 2nd degree burn. His super-powered "treatment" of the burn was similar to the effects of applying ice or cold water to a burn, but without the "frostbite" effect that can accompany the use of ice, and without the tissue-wetting effect of a cold water bath. Just a more efficient way, though, of achieving approximately the same effects. The burns the young man suffered in FF #285 were more severe, and Johnny wasn't able to get to him, until after the burns had already had plenty of time to fester and scar the underlying tissue.
Posted by: Holt | November 21, 2017 9:28 PM
Although I havent read these issues, this would have been the most interesting incarnation of the FF. The Thing has always been the best member and not having the annoying Reed is appealing.
As for Fasaud, well, I know we arent really allowed to have minorities be bad guys without everyone tearing out their hair. But at least his powers have nothing to do with his ethnicity. Its not like he found a magic lamp with genie or got bitten by a radioactive Jihad.
Posted by: kveto | May 6, 2018 3:49 AM
I understand the want for the Marvel Universe to morph and change (As the FF "Great American Novel" site laments), but "Fantastic Four" is a hard book to do it with with most of the characters being related, they can't ever truly be out of each other's lives, and the organization itself being largely connected to Reed Richard's scientific pursuits.
It also didn't help that Englehart didn't use the most inspired of teammates. Ms. Marvel brings a rather redundant power set (possibly made worse after her mutation) and Crystal is a character has been around since the 60's, and is able to duplicate one of his Johnny's powers. It's all-around a failure to come up with a complementing array of abilities or personalities, while not exactly making it feel like a truly new era.
Posted by: rabartlett | May 7, 2018 12:54 AM
"It's not like he got bitten by a radioactive jihad." Priceless! Kveto, if I ever give up teaching and somehow wind up writing comics, it'll be for the sake of inventing such a character. I'll be sure to acknowledge you, though.
But seriously, while it's true that Fasaud's powers could've been a lot more stereotypical, there's something about an Arab in his traditional garments lunging at some poor guy with a knife that harkens to the worn-out image of desert bandit. I'm not about to tear my hair over this, but it's just that Fasaud's origin is so dumbfounding that I agree with fnord12: why not have someone shoot Dunbar? Oil tycoons rank high among the evilest kinds of people, period, and yet very few go through the trouble of personally hacking a muckraker to death. Of course, Fasaud has to make it on his own, otherwise someone else might stab a camera and get superpowers. For a guy who's upset about all the bad press he's been getting, he goes about his revenge rather conspicuously.
Compared to Sharon, however, his way of dealing with misfortune is pretty healthy. I can understand that her revulsion towards men stops her from even touching them, but it should've stopped her from jumping to save Johnny, if it works like a reflex. If she could get past it by leaping, catching should've been a cakewalk.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | May 7, 2018 6:19 AM
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