Characters Appearing: Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Aron the Watcher, Dark Raider, Invisible Woman, Lyja the Lazerfist, Nathaniel Richards, Thing
Fantastic Four #396
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #396
That'll only get you so far, but i do start off reading these thinking, "hey, maybe this won't be so bad".
That effect is thanks to Paul Ryan, of course. As an FYI, he's only listed as a penciler for this issue instead of getting the vague coplotting credits that he generally gets on this series (e.g. "Defalco & Ryan - Storytellers"). That could just be the way the credits were written, though. Defalco is definitely scripting though, as evidenced by how Nathaniel Richards blurts out some expository dialogue while he's engaged in an argument with the Invisible Woman.
"Here I am fighting with the Invisible Woman and suddenly I'm afflicted with an unseen barrier? Where could it be coming from!?" And this guy's supposed to be smart?
The argument is about Richards' ruse in pretending that Dr. Doom is still running Latveria. We don't get any further confirmation about Nathaniel's claim to be the father of both Reed and Dr. Doom's father (in fact, he says that Sue "rightly... cannot believe a word I say").
Nathaniel and Sue go on a quest (Sue is unclear on the purpose, although it's ostensibly to look for Reed and Doom) that leads them to a fight with the Monks of Doom from the Tibetan Monastery where Doom trained. Sue and Nathaniel get separated, and Sue finds a pair of stasis chambers, but then Nathaniel knocks her out.
Meanwhile, Ant-Man is mocking the 1990s Fantastic Four cartoon.
Then the ghostly vision of the Invisible Woman (see References) reappears. The Human Torch, making time with "Laura Green", also sees the vision. And we see that the Fantastic Four are being observed by the (or "a") Watcher and a mysterious shadowy figure.
The only action in this issue is a boring fight with some generic monks, and we seem to be getting yet another rehash with Aron the Watcher. I suppose the "mystery" of Reed and Doom's death's, and watching Nathaniel Richards doing a heel turn, are what is supposed to keep up interested, but it's really not working.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations:
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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