Fantastic Four annual #27
Issue(s): Fantastic Four annual #27
The plot is about a missing file, which Mobius' boss, Mr. Alternity, isn't happy about.
The file in question is the one about the main Marvel timeline, which the Fantastic Four erased when they were brought to the TVA for trial. So Mobius goes to Marvel Earth and has a Justice Love re-arrest the three surviving members of the Fantastic Four. And Ant-Man tags along.
Bad news for Sue's theory that Mr. Fantastic is still alive: Mobius says that he can't find him on any of the "adjacent time-lines in your subsection of the multiverse" (and presumably in the main time-line, either). Sue takes that relatively well, just asking how thorough his search was. Mobius says the fact that Reed eradicated Mobius' data file in the first place caused him to have a "devilish enough time tracking the rest of you".
Sue manages to escape during her interrogation, and more Justices - Truth, Might, and Liberty - are sent after her. And as usual, Sue's enemies have a way of negating her invisibility. But Ant-Man helps defeat them, and they disguise themselves in the Justices costumes. They get back to Mobius and free the Thing and the Human Torch. Mobius says that if he doesn't find the missing file, he'll be demoted. Ant-Man suggests working for a competitor.
Considering the strife going on at the Marvel offices at this time, i can't help wondering how meta this all is.
The FF take Mobius to apply for a job with Kang.
Mobius gets a job offer for double his current salary plus better fringe benefits. Sue then wonders if Kang might have info on Reed, so they fight their way into Kang's office next. Kang says that Reed will be found in one divergent reality, but not in the others, and refuses to say any more. He then returns the FF to Earth.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mobius returns to Mr. Alternity to see if he can get a counter-offer. We didn't see Alternity before, but he's definitely Tom DeFalco.
After getting and accepting his counter-offer, Mr. Mobius gets an underling, a Mr. Tesserect (also a Gruenwald clone), to begin recreating the data from the missing file. I've said before that we could use the fact that the file went missing to explain why the 1980s rules about time travel stopped working, and i was worried that this story would result in the TVA finding the file again. But since Tesserect is creating the file from scratch, i think it's still reasonable to say that the TVA still don't have a good idea of what is going on in the main Marvel timeline.
And to be clear, when i say "reasonable", this is of course all incredibly goofy. But we'll go with it.
As has been the case for the past several years, the second back-up in this annual features the Kosmos, aka the once and future Beyonder. The story starts with the Living Tribunal, Eternity, Master Order, and Lord Chaos talking about how in the past they've allowed energy from the universe of the Beyonders to be made into cosmic cubes, and they're now going to observe as the products of two of those cubes interact.
One of those products is the Molecule Man. He's depressed about having lost Volcana, so he transforms into a super-villain.
He blames losing Volcana on the Beyonder, so he pulls the Beyonder to him. The Beyonder is currently with Kubik, another sentient cosmic cube. She's in her Kosmos form, but the Beyonder portion is torn out of her.
Kosmos still exists - barely - without the Beyonder.
It's worth remembering that Kosmos was originally the Beyonder and the Molecule Man merged together, but then the Molecule Man got expunged and Kosmos continued to exist. And now she exists - sort of - even without the Beyonder. Also, remember when Secret Wars II ended with a nice scene giving some closure to the Beyonder so that we'd never have to see him again, but Ralph Macchio ordered him to be brought back so that he could be written out of the Marvel universe (cf Fantastic Four #318-319)? That's really working out well, huh?
The Molecule Man and the Beyonder fight, causing impossibilities throughout all reality (a Watcher goes blind, the planet Cryptun explodes leaving just one survivor, and more such jokes, including references to Flatland and Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy). Molecule Man wins the fight, but then Kubik arrives with Kosmos. He begs for Molecule Man to relent and restore Kosmos, and he does.
The story ends with Mr. Tesserect again. He's got a lot of paperwork to file in the aftermath of the cosmic fight.
It's kind of a narrative mess on multiple levels (e.g. starting with the cosmic entities but, instead of giving that some kind of resolution, ending with the goofy TVA). And in general, both of these stories are very weird for an annual. When annuals aren't parts of a crossover, i generally expect them to be something that a person can pick up without being a regular reader of a series. I just want to check in on the FF. I can't imagine how it would feel to read an issue like this if you didn't know about the TVA or all the weird stuff that's happened to the Beyonder. It's also an odd choice for this year's (very loose) theme of telling stories from a villain's perspective. Mr. Mobius is i guess technically an antagonist for the FF, but he wouldn't be on my top 100 list of Fantastic Four villains to tell a story about. If you are already tuned into all of this, the stories do have a goofy kind of charm, though.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP have this (along with a number of other FF appearances) between Fantastic Four #388-389.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAnt-Man (Scott Lang), Beyonder, Eternity, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Kang, Kubik, Living Tribunal, Lord Chaos, Master Order, Molecule Man, Mr. Mobius, Thing
"When annuals aren't parts of a crossover, i generally expect them to be something that a person can pick up without being a regular reader of a series."
I personally disagree with this. I think an annual should be about stories that might not work well in the regular series, but acknowledge the continuity in the main series. I like it even more when they directly continue into the main series or continue from the main series. For instance, Fantastic Four annual #20 continued directly from Fantastic Four #305. That's just my opinion.
Posted by: clyde | March 27, 2018 12:54 PM
I definitely think annuals should be in continuity, and carefully so where the main series is concerned. But I really don’t care whether they are meant to be enjoyed by any potential reader or only by fans of the regular series: both options have merit.
I just think that annuals should feel like special events: a story that’s a big deal, a special guest creative team, a part of a crossover, something. Unfortunately, Atlantis Attacks was badly executed, subsequent crossovers felt pointless, and by now we’ve reached a point where annuals don’t seem special at all.
But them’s the 90’s fer ya.
Posted by: Matt | March 27, 2018 3:44 PM
This is the last Fantastic Four Annual until 1998 and one of the last Marvel Annuals to use standard numbering instead of the year. This was also one of the first Fantastic Four comics I owned. I got it in one of those 10 issue grab bags you used to see at drug stores and toy stores. I had no clue what was going on.
Posted by: bigvis497 | March 27, 2018 4:29 PM
Note that Molecule Man says that Kubik is in love with Kosmos.
Posted by: Michael | March 27, 2018 11:24 PM
A lot of my experience with Marvel annuals around this time felt like this - bunch of weird, inside-baseball stories, pickups from long-running stuff in books I wasn't reading, and generally very far from the glorious Bronze Age "it's a giant size standalone adventure with your favorite characters" format. The Unlimited books, I guess, were taking up some of that space, but with a few exceptions those tended to feel like irrelevant and rushed messes.
Speaking of rushed messes: what the *hell* is that costume for the Molecule Man?! Dreadful. If he needed a new look (answer: no), he should have just gotten a bunch of pouches - "my new self-help guru says that imagining I have something to carry all my molecules in will help me feel more in control of them."
Posted by: doctorcasino | March 28, 2018 9:57 AM
The Molecule Man costume looks like a hybrid of his original outfit, the "New Molecule Man" from Marvel Two-In-One and other 1970s stories, and the Beyonder's silver armor look from parts of Secret Wars II (which also shows up here). The end result is ugly, but it seems less like generic 90s bad design work and more like a misguided effort to encapsulate the character's history and suggest that he's going mad like the Beyonder did.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | March 28, 2018 4:52 PM
He’s also got Thanos’s codpiece, for some reason...
Posted by: Andrew | March 28, 2018 5:26 PM
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