Fantastic Four #413
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #413
But before we get to that, because this is the only issue of the Fantastic Four i'll be covering for 1996, i wanted to comment on something else. At this time, Marvel was running some super-appealing ads, and the Fantastic Four version was the best of them (if you can excuse the misspelling of Yancy Street):
"Character" or "good characterization" was how me and my friends described what we wanted from comics while complaining about the Image-ification that happened in the 90s. So when i saw an ad promising to put character back in the FF, i practically ran to the comic store to find out who was handling the series now. And... nope, it was still Tom DeFalco doing stories about Hyperstorm or whatever. An ad promising to put something back seems to be acknowledging that the books were on the wrong track to begin with, and you can't fix that with the exact same creative team and not even any change in direction (beyond bringing back Reed, which was surely in the works the whole time). Some of the other books (Captain America, Daredevil) could have credibly made that claim (even Thor, sort of; at least it had a change in direction), but not here. We're very close to Onslaught and the Heroes Reborn reboot (which wouldn't be putting character anywhere), and i don't know if this ad campaign was launched without knowledge that these books were getting cancelled, or as an attempt to forestall that, or if it was just random. But at the time it definitely got me to look at this book again, and in that it was successful. These ads would have made a ton more sense as a promo for Heroes Return.
As for the Doom 2099 plot, the last of his crabs were killed in the explosion from his fight with the Thing. Also, he was exposed to the crab juice, and he's now become addicted to it. So he intends to raid Four Freedoms Plaza in an attempt to use its technology to replicate the juice synthetically.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fantastic plans to travel through sub-space to find either Galactus or the Silver Surfer, to enlist their aid against Hyperstorm (who until last issue was holding Reed prisoner). Reed's father tries to get him to stop, and Sue observes that Nathan knows more about Hyperstorm than he's letting on. The good thing about a Tom DeFalco comic is that i'm sure there's been a little thought bubble like that in every issue, which would have been tedious, but since i'm picking up this one issue randomly, all the information i need is right there for. The bad thing about a Tom DeFalco comic is Hyperstorm. It looks like this doesn't get revealed until next issue, but Hyperstorm is the son of Franklin Richards and Rachel Summers from an alternate future. Which, fine; cool actually. But here's the description of his powers from Marvel:
Hyperstorm is the most powerful Omega-level mutant to ever exist, surpassing Mister M and Jean Grey. He has been made of unique indestructible atoms with "hypertrons" that circle along the nucleus along with the electron. The exact affect of this is unknown but according to Reed Richards it makes him a "perfect" organism all the way down to the subatomic level. Galactic Scale Reality Warper. He can warp reality on the submolecular level to the universal scale . He can get any power he wants as long as he can imagine it. He draws his power from collecting every power item in the comic universe for himself, all mystical power sources in the universe such as the speed force, also technologically augmenting his army of destructoids that do his conquering for him. His mutant genes also contribute to his superhuman powers. He has the physical powers that far surpass anyone ever seen in fantasy comics, tv shows, and video games. His mental, spiritual, and mystical(magical) powers also go far beyond anything ever seen.
Forget the hypertrons and destructoids. What i love about that description is how every sentence one-ups the previous one, like a kid making up a superhero on the spot. "Uh-huh, he can fly, and he can shoot lasers, and he's the most powerful ever, and also he's better than everyone else, and he's the most perfect there ever was, beyond anything ever seen!"
Even more than that, though, the real annoyance with the DeFalco run is how long this stuff dragged on. Franklin was replaced by Psi-Lord in Fantastic Four #376, which means the mystery of his replacement and origins has been going on that long. Mr. Fantastic was seemingly killed and became a prisoner of Hyperstorm not long after that. There have always been goofy villains and i can deal with them just fine. My request is that they don't linger in the background for 30+ issues.
Another thing i love/hate about the DeFalco/Paul Ryan run is how it comes very close to mimicking great eras of the FF. I mean, look at this scene:
In terms of the layouting, the flippant dialogue, it has the initial appearance of feeling like a classic FF comic. But (to me) it's real Uncanny Valley stuff, just close enough to the real thing while feeling subtly flat and artificial enough to being more disturbing than if they were just trying to do things in their own style.
Anyway, the Thing alerts the Torch that (a) Doom is on the loose, and they attack him while he's trying to cook his crab juice.
DeFalco is scripting Doom 2099 like he's the oldschool original (actually, i swear "mindless misanthrope" is what HERBIE calls the Thing in the 1970s cartoon). I guess we can say that the crab juice addiction has caused him to regress.
The Inhumans also happen to be around (Mr. Fantastic had to perform surgery on Black Bolt at the beginning of the issue) and they join in on the fight against Doom.
Doom 2099 tries to escape, but he's instead captured by regular present day Doom and Namor, who were waiting outside the building.
As for Reed, he finds the Silver Surfer, who tells him that Galactus is dead. And then just flies away, leaving Reed floating in space with dwindling oxygen! Reed is rescued by adult Franklin (Psi-Lord), but when they get back to the building, he's hit by a time platform sent by Hyperstorm, and when he comes back out of it, he's kid Franklin again.
The Doom 2099 crossover feels weirdly unwanted, like it's been shoehorned into this story where it could fit while dealing with its own plots. I mean imagine coming up with a plot where Doom 2099 fights the Fantastic Four, and Mr. Fantastic is too busy to attend! And i don't even know why the Invisible Woman doesn't participate! Imagine the Fantastic Four watching Doom get knocked out the window and picked up by a ship and just shrugging their shoulders and going back to their regular business. Well, no need to imagine, i guess.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Continues from Doom 2099 #42, and continues in Doom 2099 #43. Franklin Richards returns this issue, and Mr. Fantastic is back (and beardless), so after this issue normal/generic appearances of the Fantastic Four (without Psi-Lord) can occur (and Onslaught is coming up soon).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAhura, Black Bolt, Doom 2099, Dr. Doom, Franklin Richards, Gorgon, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Karnak, Medusa, Mr. Fantastic, Nathaniel Richards, Psi-Lord, Roberta, Silver Surfer, Sub-Mariner, Thing
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