Characters Appearing: Black Panther, Dr. Doom, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing
Fantastic Four #4-6
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #4, Fantastic Four #5, Fantastic Four #6
Here's your monthly Nod to Onslaught:
Wikipedia, citing a contemporaneous issue of Wizard, says that when the realignment happens as a part of Liefeld's firing, Marvel offered Lee the opportunity to continue controlling all the Heroes Reborn characters indefinitely. It's said that the condition was that Lee draw at least one of the books, and Lee declined. But i don't see how this situation would be sustainable anyway. There are so many hints like the one above referencing hte idea that the heroes didn't belong here. How long could that have gone on? And on top of that, in each book we are just racing through the various properties and it wouldn't be too long until all of that was used up and Lee would have to do some actual worldbuilding or creating, something that he doesn't show any interest in doing.
The plot of these issues has Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman meeting the Black Panther. Both are investigating cosmic anomalies which will turn out to relate to the coming of Galactus (everything's connected). Then Dr. Doom arrives, having already captured the Silver Surfer. We learn that, in this universe, all of the big brained heroes (and Doom) who were killed by Onslaught went to college together along with Rebel O'Reilly, the guy who was killed testing the Iron Man armor.
It's in these issues that we learn that the Wyatt Wingfoot we saw earlier wasn't the real one. The Human Torch does the Sub-Mariner Beard Thing on the real Wyatt.
The evil Wyatt drains the Surfer's powers, becoming the Super-Skrull (or is it the Abomination?)
In this continuity, Galactus has already destroyed the Skrulls' homeworld, and getting the Surfer's power is part of his plan to extract vengeance.
He'd been working for Doom, but now that he has the power cosmic, he betrays him. The FF, Black Panther, and Doom manage fight the Super-Skrull...
...but the Skrull is only defeated when the Silver Surfer wakes up. The Surfer is grateful that the FF bothered to rescue him, and that will come into play later when Galactus arrives.
As i noted earlier, and as with Namor, the Black Panther here feels like a prop, or like any of the fake Franklin Richards-constructed characters. It's worth observing that he wasn't part of the "Atomic Knights of the Round Table" and he's not one of the characters who is semi-aware that he's in a fake universe. He just does his normal generic Black Panther stuff. And he won't appear again in all of Heroes Reborn until the final issue of this series.
Overall, Lee's FF is the most coherent of the Heroes Reborn line. In many ways it feels like a dry rehash, but the way everything is connected and leading up to the arrival of Galactus has a certain appeal and might make a good basis for a premium television FF series or something (just please get someone to punch up the dialogue). So, as a proof of concept for showing how the FF might be adapted, it's decent (certainly better than anything that's been done at time of writing). But it's not delivering anything new to comic fans.
I think everyone, Jim Lee included, would have been happier if Lee was just allowed to do non-story pin-ups for all twelve issues.
The epilogue to issue #6 is the prologue to the Industrial Revolution crossover. It's not super-eventful: a little more flashback showing Doom and the other "Atomic Knights" in college, and then Doom being alerted to the fact that the Hulk has caused massive destruction on Avengers Island.
There is an interview with Scott Lobdell promoting the crossover that appeared in comics around this time. The interviewer notes that "some of the Heroes Reborn storylines are ahead of others at the moment" and Lobdell says that "hopefully" all four books will be on the same page by issue #6, noting that Captain America in particular was behind the others. And then the interviewer says, "So the Heroes Reborn cross-over is simply getting everybody on the same page and up to speed?". Lobdell doesn't directly answer, but that's almost definitely a "yes". What Lobdell does say, twice, is that the crossover is a "character-driven" crossover. "[I]t's not an event-driven crossover, it's not a villain-driven crossover, it's not marketing-driven". And let me tell you, nothing in Heroes Reborn is in any way character-driven. I don't know what Industrial Revolution is. Mostly it's a mess, like the rest of Heroes Reborn. But it is absolutely not character-driven.
Housekeeping: I had some misgivings tagging Industrial Revolution as a crossover, because in my mind all of Heroes Reborn is the crossover. But i guess that's not technically true, and there's at least one more crossover or sub-crossover within Heroes Reborn (two if you count the 13th issues, which i won't be).
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Industrial Revolution continues in Avengers #6.
Crossover: Industrial Revolution
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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