Characters Appearing: Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing, Uatu the Watcher
Fantastic Four annual #11
Issue(s): Fantastic Four annual #11
During a training session (which was utilizing equipment supplied by Professor X)...
...the Human Torch and the Thing cause some extra damage, and it gets Reed and Sue fussing about the team's money troubles again. So the Thing decides he's going to end all of these problems by using the time machine to pick up some treasure from the past. However, when he gets to the time machine, he finds that the room is full of Nazis.
It turns out that the "strangely marked cannister" that Luke Cage knocked into the time machine in Fantastic Four #169 was vibranium, and it wound up in the hands of the Nazis, and now history has been altered.
The Watcher shows up to indicate that there's a real problem here. The Watcher is drawn pretty badly throughout this story; he's been Marvel's most inconsistently drawn character from his first appearance.
The Nazis were from 1946, and had somehow found a way to access Reed's time machine, but the Fantastic Four need to go back to 1942 to fix the problem that the vibranium causes. When they get there they meet up with the Invaders, and after the obligatory fighting...
...they team up and attack a missile base that is run by Baron Zemo.
This turns out to be the adventure in which Captain America gets Baron Zemo's mask covered in Adhesive X, setting up their later enmity.
Ultimately, after the Thing learns to stop worrying and love the bomb...
...the teams manage to stop the Nazis and blow up their rocket base, but the FF only manage to retrieve half the vibranium. Back in the present, after the rest of the FF leave the room, the Watcher shows up again just in front of the Thing.
I was disappointed to see Roy Thomas attempt to solve a minor problem regarding Dr. Doom's time machine in this story, but do it in a way that doesn't really work that well. The problem is that we've seen the time machine in the Baxter Building but also in Dr. Doom's abandoned castle in America, and then later back in Latveria. The solution given here is that Reed Richard created a duplicate - and then improved upon it - before complying with a diplomatic request to return it to Dr. Doom.
The problem with that is it doesn't explain why, prior to the machine appearing in Latveria, it appeared in the Baxter Building and the American castle at the same time. And it also ignores my favored solution, which is that the one in the Baxter Building is the one created by Gregory Gideon in Fantastic Four #34. The other one obviously remained in Doom's old castle until Doom made the diplomatic request to have it returned. So Reed is clearly lying here.
By the way, Reed's improvement is the addition of that clunky dial that tells you what year it was last used to travel to or from, and as you can see, it couldn't possibly have enough notches to include all the possible years one could time travel to. Which is probably why Reed has to use a slide-rule to figure out how far back the group needs to time travel to fix the problem.
This is the first annual in a long time (since #6 in 1968) with new content. For an annual it's decent enough, with nice art by John Buscema and an acceptable contrivance for featuring Roy Thomas' Invaders. It would have been nice to save the Captain America/Baron Zemo confrontation for an actual standalone story. And maybe spend a little more time showing how the Nazis were able to utilize the vibranium. But by itself this story was fine. Things get a little worse with the next part since it requires us to accept that the Thing won't call his teammates back into the room when the Watcher reappears.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after Fantastic Four #170. Ben Grimm is currently wearing the Thing exoskeleton since he is no longer the Thing. Continues directly in Marvel Two-In-One annual #1.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Weirdly enough, Thomas is unnecessarily cagey about whether the time travel goes back to the actual past or an alternate timeline.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 25, 2013 3:10 PM
The opening Watcher pages in What If? #1 stated that the WW2 scenes in this and the MTIO 2-parter happened on a parallel earth. That issue also stated that the Deathlok and Killraven futures didn't happen on the same planet(contradicting what Steve Gerber wrote in Defenders), and also had a weird oblique reference to the Spider-man Vs. Superman tabloid.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 12, 2016 10:42 AM
Gregory Gideon's time machine, you say? Well, this wouldn't be the first time Reed Richards has been accused of plagiarism...
Posted by: Max_Spider | August 27, 2016 8:00 AM
I recall as a young lad picking up this issue up at the nearby 7-11 (along with my Mountain Dew-flavored Slurpee in a plastic cup featuring a drawing and mini-bio of Marvel characters) and noticing how much better the Invaders were drawn here than in their own book. Even then, I just knew that Frank Robbins' "Kabuki mask" faces were no match for the more realistic renderings of one J.Buscema.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | June 10, 2017 8:30 PM
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