Fantastic Four #377-378
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #377, Fantastic Four #378
He doesn't really get to explain what the point of Nathaniel's actions were or why Franklin has returned now (we do learn later that he has a "true mission" that we of course are not privy to) due to the fact that the Invisible Woman declares that she's not buying any of his "bull" and attacks him. Franklin defends himself, and the rest of the group calm Sue down. Franklin is then allowed to just wander off.
And so is the Skrull, Lyja the Lazerfist.
Meanwhile, someone shows up in pursuit of "The Four".
I used to laugh when i read Silver Age comics and some super-hero related thing would happen in the streets of New York and the bystanders would write it off as "some kinda new advertisement". But i wasn't alive in the 1960s and i always left open the possibility that they really did do weird stuff back then. I was around in the 90s, and I can tell you that that women dressed like Huntara used to appear in the streets in giant glowing green eggs all the time.
In all seriousness, though, this is why i can't stand Tom DeFalco's writing. He doesn't just have some nice nostalgia for the Silver Age. He brings it ALL back, exactly like it was, whether it makes any sense or not.
Anyway, Klaw notices Huntara and creates a "solid sound" gorilla to distract the police from interrogating her.
Meanwhile, it's time for the Human Torch's trial (so much for the promise of dropping the charges last issue). Bridget O'Neil shows up to wish Johnny luck, setting off jealousy in Lyja. Then Paibok the Power Skrull and Devos the Devastator attack the trial.
But in addition to the Fantastic Four being there, Spider-Man is taking photos as Peter Parker, Daredevil is the FF's lawyer, Silver Sable is there with Sandman, who wanted to provide moral support to the Thing, and then Huntara and Klaw show up too.
So it's a real free-for-all. Although note that Huntara isn't even sure who she's hunting. We also learn that she's a "guardian of the sacred time lines" and a "princess of elsewhen".
I know this is leading into the Franklin Richards plot, but a part of me wants it to be tied in with the all-centaur team from Death's Head II #9. There are a lot of time guardians out there, but none of them seem terribly effective.
Sometimes i have to remind myself that Lyja the Laserfist isn't a new character. She's been with the FF for years, theoretically paying attention to their encounters and studying up on them. I have to remind myself because Tom DeFalco won't do it.
Klaw goes for the gorilla shapes a lot, not that i blame him.
During the fight, Mr. Fantastic is stabbed by Huntara's halberd.
Note that Sue is talking about the trauma she's experienced which, (as Dermie notes in the comments) is a result of the recent fight with Dr. Doom. It's odd for that to be an ongoing development at this time since Sue is also dealing with Malice. I've talked about how the use of Malice is a clunky metaphor for getting Sue to throw off her shrinking violet ways and assert herself, but i didn't count on her actually becoming weaker.
Sue winds up getting knocked out using a forcefield to stop an attack from Devos. Johnny Storm had been advised by Matt Murdock to hold off on joining the fight himself, but that's the final straw for him and he flames on. And on top of that, the Avengers show up.
For this they show up? Not Maximum Carnage?
Honestly, i don't know how New York isn't under martial law at this point. Every day there's a full scale super-war in the streets.
The four bad guys form an alliance and Huntara teleports them away for now.
Two characters that aren't part of the big fight are Franklin and Ms. Marvel. They are busy having melodrama.
She's then caught by some of Dr. Doom's goons and turned into a true She-Thing, and proposes a new name for this series.
Ok, it's not that bad... yet. I can't say no to a big super-battle; it's the fact that they're going on in every book at such a scale that is the real problem and i can't penalize any particular series for it. And Paul Ryan's art makes the fight a lot of fun. And it's all perfectly readable in a very cheesy sort of way. On the other hand it already feels like DeFalco is just stringing things along instead of working according to a plan that will be executed in any kind of timely manner. With just about every development it feels like i have to defer judgement. Ok, what's going on with Sue/Malice? Don't know yet. What's going to happen with the Thing's face? Don't know yet? Human Torch's trial? Delayed? What happened with Nathaniel and what's going on with Franklin? It's still a mystery. Who's Huntara? Mystery. Etc.. Nothing has actually happened but the book continues to pick up subplots and super-powered supporting characters like a chewed ball of Silver Age flavored bubble gum rolling on the floor and picking up lint. How is that for an overloaded metaphor, Sharon?
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Fantastic Four annual #26 takes place during Fantastic Four #377, after Franklin explains himself. Infinity Crusade has to take place before the death of Mr. Fantastic (and so do a couple other Mr. Fantastic appearances), so we're taking a break here before next issue. Next issue will make it seem like Mr. Fantastic returned from the hospital (after his injuries from Huntara) and then immediately started working on curing Sharon Ventura, but that can't be the exact case. Sandman is with Silver Sable, placing this after he returns in Silver Sable & the Wild Pack #11-12.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAgatha Harkness, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Bridget O'Neil, Crystal, Daredevil, Devos the Devastator, Dr. Doom, Human Torch, Huntara, Invisible Woman, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Klaw, Lyja the Lazerfist, Malice (Sue Storm's psionic entity), Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel (Sharon Ventura), Paibok the Power Skrull, Psi-Lord, Sandman, Sersi, Silver Sable, Spider-Man, Thing, Thunderstrike, Vision
"I've talked about how the use of Malice is a clunky metaphor for getting Sue to throw off her shrinking violet ways and assert herself, but i didn't count on it actually making her weaker."
This idea of female characters having their darker sides also making them more powerful is troublesome for many reasons.
Posted by: Wanyas the Self-Proclaimed | November 7, 2016 5:17 PM
Sue's weakness here has nothing to do with the Malice situation--it was the 'trauma' from having Doom shatter one of her force fields a few issues ago (as referenced in the scene). The psychic feedback of that left Sue with a terrible headache that has not gone away since.
Posted by: Dermie | November 7, 2016 6:11 PM
I don't know, the dialogue reads to me like "this time hurts like that other time; is all this hurt because of the trauma i experienced?" in which the Doom instance is just another example. But i could be wrong.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 7, 2016 6:23 PM
No, you must be right, Dermie. In the scene in #375 after Doom's attack, Reed thinks, "who knows what effect such massive trauma had on her mind and powers?!".
Posted by: fnord12 | November 7, 2016 6:27 PM
I've wondered about 'just an advertisment' I think businesses were just more showy, flashy and different then. So I think they were a little more 'out there' and cheesy than today. I was about three when the 90s started so if someone like Huntara showed up my parents would have lead me away.
Posted by: davidbanes | November 7, 2016 6:37 PM
I fondly remember these issues and what's ahead with reeds death. I love that ff gets a bring reed back club in the letters section. Fnord please don't beat the ff up to much.
Posted by: mark | November 7, 2016 7:25 PM
There's a lot to like in these issues, but I think fnord's critique is right on. The art is good, the scope is impressive, and many of the concepts are cool, but there's no structure.
Posted by: Andrew | November 7, 2016 7:38 PM
Huntara look kinda Dani-Moonstar-ish doesn't she?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | November 11, 2016 1:00 AM
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