Fantastic Four #334
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #334
This issue begins with someone that looks vaguely (but not quite, especially in the limbs) like Dr. Doom planting a device on the roof of Four Freedoms Plaza.
The mystery man has it easy thanks to the fact that Mr. Fantastic is currently in the process of testing the building's security systems. That also results in some hijinx when Ben Grimm (no longer the Thing) and Sharon Ventura return home from shopping for their weekly supply of Grade A Burp.
I'm not sure if Simonson has a great handle on Sharon's dialogue yet. "Restraints such as we've never had before"? Sharon is many things - a stunt bicyclist, a pro-wrestler, a military brat, a science aficionado - but she's not a foreign noble, which is what that line sounds like.
The humiliation of the security system attacking him is an opportunity for Ben to tear into Reed, but Ben makes sure to let everyone know that he's just kidding. Soon after that, Four Freedoms Plaza starts getting some legitimate usage of the security system, starting with the Constrictor.
Next up is the Beetle.
And finally the Shocker.
You'll obviously notice a bit of elitism here. It's partially a matter of Walt Simonson taking the piss regarding the Acts of Vengeance crossover. I'm of two minds about it. Maybe three minds. Mind #1 says if you're going to do the crossover, do it right. Maybe Constrictor, the Beetle, and Shocker aren't super-powerful heroes that can handle the FF, but you could say that about most iterations of the Frightful Four as well. Put them together and you'd at least have a decent and fun challenge. Mind #2 kind of likes the idea that there are power tiers of heroes, and the Fantastic Four (and the Avengers) are at the top. The Fantastic Four already regularly fight the villains that challenge them and swapping in different villains can only make things easier. Even here, though, there are villains that should be at the FF's level. For example, i'd love to have seen the Leader pull together the Abomination and the Rhino for an attack on the FF during Acts of Vengeance. And then Mind #3 gets that this is all just a joke; the FF are for all intents and purposes not involved in Acts of Vengeance but the book is going to have a little fun with the idea. I'd save that for Damage Control or something, though. So i guess Mind #1 wins out.
When the FF leave for Washington the villain summoning device leaps from the roof to the Fantasticar, so we'll have more of this in the next two issues. We do see more mystery men in trenchcoats heading to DC.
Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four were debating the merits of the Superhero Registration Act. Or maybe it's better to say that they lay out the terms of the debate; it doesn't feel like anyone really takes a strong side.
It's also telling that they're only having this debate now. The Mutant Registration Act has already passed. Only now that Congress is considering expanding it to all super-heroes does the FF get involved? But we'll look at that more with the next two issues.
After the FF leave, Captain America and Thor show up at their building. They are here to ask if the Avengers can stay at their place now that Avengers Island has been destroyed. Cap says that the Avengers have crashed with the FF in the past, which... may be true, i guess? The Wasp did hold a temporary office there after Avengers Mansion was raided by the Masters of Evil. But you'd think the more relevant thing to mention is when the Avengers let the FF stay at their place for an extended period after the Baxter Building was shot into space, with the idea that they'd like the FF to now return the favor.
Anyway, the FF aren't home and Reed has just upgraded the security system, so the Avengers aren't able to get in.
They decide to leave rather than destroy Reed's equipment.
Also in this issue is a fun scene of Reed playing with his son Franklin and OH GOD THE HORROR!
AHHHHHHHHHH! NOOOOO! Why can't i unsee that? I close my eyes but it's still there!
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Thor and Captain America's attempt to land on the FF's roof occurs during Captain America #365. That scene also takes place (per footnotes) after Avengers #311 and before Thor #411.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showBeetle, Captain America, Constrictor, Dr. Doom, Franklin Richards, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Lyja the Lazerfist, Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura), Shocker, Thing, Thor
This issue really helped destroy the Beetle as a credible villain. This issue was the first time we saw the Beetle in his new armor since Iron Man destroyed the original in Armor Wars, and he's treated like a joke and defeated by the FF's security system. Simonson should have realized that he was essentially reintroducing the Beetle and using him as a joke would set the tone. Beetle's next appearance cemented the impression and Beetle was treated as a loser until Thunderbolts.
Posted by: Michael | March 24, 2015 8:31 PM
BTW, fnord, I think it's supposed to be four different guys in trenchcoats, not one- note that one is taking the Metroliner to DC, another the Greyhound, etc.
Posted by: Michael | March 24, 2015 10:43 PM
These FF issues, while humourous, really put a lot of these villains in a joke catergory. Very annoying. Especially for heavy hitters like Thunderball. I mean the Constrictor started out fighting the Hulk. Something that became endemic in the 90s, make fun of the old school guys in order to make the new kewl villains seem more dangerous. And how many 90s villains became winners in the end?
Posted by: kveto | March 25, 2015 2:42 AM
Der, thanks Michael. I guess that's why the MCP didn't list any of them as characters. I've removed Ramrod.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 25, 2015 7:35 AM
Can someone clarify whether Mr. Fantastic can actually shape change like how he does in that terrifying last scan. I thought his powers were more akin to elasticity.
Posted by: JSfan | March 25, 2015 1:46 PM
Posted by: fnord12 | March 25, 2015 2:21 PM
You know, I can believe Byrne's idea that Reed would be able to stretch his face to look different. There was a 'comedian' in the UK back in the 80s called Phil Cool and his schtick was to contort his face into grotesque shapes. He was sort of rubbery. I just don't get the whole Spike mace and... *shudder* Dinosaur thing.
Posted by: JSfan | March 25, 2015 2:41 PM
According to Steve Englehart in Amazing Heroes #171, Simonson quit X-Factor and Avengers over editorial interference with his stories. He took over the FF only after demanding to be left alone, with Ralph Macchio supposedly responding "I can't promise anything, but we'll try it."
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 26, 2015 9:38 PM
He quit X-FACTOR over editorial interference? He was just the artist on X-Factor? He quits and his wife stays on?
Posted by: Michael | March 27, 2015 11:14 PM
Englehart didn't elaborate any further. But since Louise was a Marvel editor for several years and Walt wasn't, maybe she had more tolerance for arbitrary directives?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 28, 2015 12:02 PM
I like this Reed much better than the fascist pro-registration interlope Millar tried to pass off os him in Civil War.
Posted by: Bob | May 1, 2015 7:53 AM
"It's also telling that they're only having this debate now. The Mutant Registration Act has already passed. Only now that Congress is considering expanding it to all super-heroes does the FF get involved? But we'll look at that more with the next two issues."
It also seems like they forgot that their own son is a mutant. That should have had them concerned about the Mutant Registration Act.
Posted by: clyde | July 21, 2015 7:56 PM
I suppose we could no-prize the lousy performances of the villains away by assuming that Doom's emotion charger is set to make them incompetent somehow.
And yeah, the FF should have remembered that their son is a mutant; Franklin's picture was even used in the ads supporting the Act and tagged with a nasty slur!
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 7, 2015 8:53 AM
The dinosaur morph effect, and especially the spiked mace, are elastic-power effects that I normally associate with Plastic Man more than with Mr. Fantastic. But Reed's elastic effects are always evolving.
"Restraints such as we've never had before"? Reed is particularly prickish in this scene where he inadvertently (?) captures Ben and Sharon with his weird and vaguely S&M magnetic grappler security system feature. Dude has them manacled to the wall, Sharon hanging sideways and Ben, in his unmutated form, hanging upside down and suspended only by his ankles. Small items and change, no doubt, are spilling out of his pockets. Reed looks at them distantly yet impishly, with his hand covering his mouth, and then, he just casually triggers his hand held remote control, and unceremoniously drops them both from a height of about 6 feet off the floor without even trying to catch them. Ben screams as the manacles snap away from his ankles. Then, his now-daintier, unmutated, and unprotected humanoid body plummets from 6 feet up and he lands on his back, with a loud WHUUMPH! sound effect. Lucky he didn't break his skinny neck. Sharon is like, "Uh, Reed?" Reed all but winks at the reader before exiting, stage left. Cripes.
Posted by: Holt | November 24, 2017 2:39 AM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|