Characters Appearing: Alicia Masters, Bridget O'Neil, Devos the Devastator, Franklin Richards, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Lyja the Lazerfist, Magus (Evil Adam Warlock), Mr. Fantastic, Mr. Fantastic Doppelganger, Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura), Paibok the Power Skrull, Puppet Master, Thanos Doppelganger, Thing
Fantastic Four #366
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #366
The story starts with the Thanos doppelganger warning Magus that Earth's heroes have the potential to be annoying, but Magus dismisses them as just pawns, and really, in the end, he'll turn out to be right about that for this event.
We then switch over to the Human Torch, who is having a freak out at Mr. Fantastic over the way he treats the team.
In the last arc, the dimension the FF traveled to was called the "Innerverse". It makes me chuckle to see Johnny calling it the "Inniverse". Makes me think of belly buttons.
The Torch and Mr. Fantastic get into a physical fight, which has to be broken up by the Thing (who notes the irony of the situation). Johnny leaves, apparently having completed his regression to 1966 and needing to get to his college class.
I mean, seriously, this is happening?
This scene introduces Bridget O'Neil, a potential love interest for Johnny.
Mr. Fantastic is somewhat shaken by the Torch's accusations and the fact that he won't confide in the Thing...
...and he goes to Sue, who is worried about the fact that they put Franklin at risk by being superheroes.
Uh, you've been through all this, guys. Remember? You quit the team, moved to the suburbs? Of course, Reed can't remember what he was thinking literally a minute ago, because instead of telling Sue that he shares his doubts, he promises her that everything will work out fine and delivers a patented "trust me".
Meanwhile, the Puppet Master is making it difficult for me to account for his recent appearance in She-Hulk, where he had been in jail.
I guess if a "white lie" can just be a "lie", we're ok.
Any chance of the Puppet Master's recent attempts to reform seem right out the window, though.
Then Reed gets attacked by his doppelganger, who plays on the doubts and guilt that he's been experiencing.
That's one of the ways that these Infinity War tie-ins can do something with their characters. The evil twins serve as a way to give whatever character problems the heroes are dealing with a physical form, so that they can be punched out. It's D'Spayre level character development, but at least it's a kind of character development. And if you don't care about stuff like that, at least fights between two Mr. Fantastics are always going to be pretty hilarious.
In the Infinity War issue, it was (deliberately) unclear which Mr. Fantastic won, but in this issue there's no doubt that it's the bad guy.
And the "trust me" line is repeated, so at least we know that Tom DeFalco meant the line as a way to illustrate a legitimate character flaw.
Before all the interruptions, Mr. Fantastic was putting the finishing touches on an encephalizer device that would have alerted everyone if anyone got mind-controlled again. So thanks a lot, Johnny.
Also in this issue, Sharon Ventura shows up to say hello to the Thing, who happens to be at his local Modell's. In the past, the Thing has gotten sturdier equipment from Mr. Fantastic, so i don't know why he's shopping here.
And we also see that Paibok the Power Skrull has formed an alliance with Devos the Devastator, and they've also got Lyja. It's hard for me today to fathom, but the lettercols have been full of calls for the return of Lyja since her seeming death.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place concurrently with Infinity War #1. The fights that Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Wolverine have with their doppelgangers in Infinity War #1 (and, in Spider-Man's case, also Spider-Man #24) are shown on viewscreens at the Magus' headquarters (i'm not counting them as appearances), and of course the fight between Mr. Fantastic and his doppelganger is expanded from that issue. I'll be covering Infinity War #2 before next issue, but some scenes from this issue continue directly into next. As is usually the case with this sort of thing, placement will be a bit arbitrary since things are happening concurrently.
Crossover: Infinity War
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
After Johnny said he had classes to attend, the next panel should have been Reed and Ben recoiling in shock, then tentatively asking, "You... you do?"
I started FF two issues from now, so it wasn't until I went back and read Stan & Jack's run that I could appreciate how odd it was for Johnny to suddenly be going to college again. To make things even more surreal, the person browbeating Johnny for flaming-on should have been an aged Whitey Mullins.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 31, 2016 4:11 PM
I'm sure it was entirely unintentional since "tentacle porn" was not as well-known then as it is now, but I'm still a little creeped out at the panel of the Doppelganger reaching out for Reed with an arm full of tentacles, talking about "the pleasures yet to come"...
Posted by: Dermie | March 31, 2016 5:32 PM
I got this because of the cross-over and hadn't read any of the FF issues leading up to it, so I just assumed that Johnny had decided to go back to college previously and it was all set up and made sense. I had no idea it was just dropped in here as if he'd never left! Having subsequently read a lot of 60s-80s Fantastic Four and looking at this in isolation, it's like a depressing reset to 'the good old days' which completely misses the point by just repeating things from the past out of context and less well. Decent use of the doppleganger Reed though and a fun fight. The rest is just bad and a comic's in a bad way if being interrupted by a gratuitous crossover tie-in fight makes things better!
Posted by: Benway | March 31, 2016 7:55 PM
Did Johnny ever finish collage the first time around? I don't remember that bit...
Posted by: D09 | March 31, 2016 11:44 PM
I think the last time we saw Johnny in college was around FF #63 or so. I don't know if its ever been referenced after Stan & Jack until now. So there is a 25 year gap or so. Kirby left a dangling plotline of the coach trying to recruit Wyatt Wingfoot if I remember.
This is clumsily brought on. It would have been better to have an issue where Johnny decided to re-enroll or "resume his studies" - preferably so he could help out the FF more in some capacity (it is also a company, not just "the world's greatest fighting team"). It would have been a much smoother transition and allowed DeFalco to have whatever subplot he wanted. And it wouldn't have required much panel time at all. Hell, he could have had an interaction with Wyatt Wingfoot and him, and Wyatt prompting him to resume and finish his studies (Wyatt graduated in FF 138 - and Johnny attended it and even thought to himself he didn't have the guts to finish).
Posted by: Chris | April 1, 2016 12:23 AM
Don't worry, he won't finish college under DeFalco either. But he'll feel bad about it for a couple pages.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | April 1, 2016 2:17 AM
He did briefly return to college in issue 204-207, but the college he went to turned out to be a front for the Monocle, and we haven't seen Johnny consider going back since.
Posted by: Michael | April 1, 2016 7:49 AM
Good lord is this stupid. If DeFalco had been writing Spider-Man would have he put Peter back in college, undone the marriage and had Flash Thompson bullying him again?
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 19, 2016 11:34 AM
I've always found it weird and hypocritical that DeFalco was set on resetting the FF back to Silver Age but then he proceeds to tell stories that quickly deviate from and break the Silver Age regressions completely (Reed dies, Sue starts getting it on with Namor, Thing's face is scarred by Wolverine, Lyja and Kristoff are basically members).
Posted by: AF | April 19, 2016 1:35 PM
AF, those are my feelings as well.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | April 20, 2016 12:16 AM
What was Johnny studying in college anyway?
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | May 17, 2016 7:45 AM
Had Johnny ever spent enough time in any college subplot, he might have, one far distant year, decided on a major. Alas, that might be character development, so he always stops going first.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | May 17, 2016 10:10 AM
Two things: Evil Reed at the end reminded me of the Counter-Earth Reed/Brute story. Also, didn't Johnny do this same scare-a-student thing in another book? I recall enough to say for sure he did.
Posted by: KevinA | July 20, 2018 9:35 AM
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