Fantastic Four vs. X-Men #1-4
Issue(s): Fantastic Four vs. X-Men #1, Fantastic Four vs. X-Men #2, Fantastic Four vs. X-Men #3, Fantastic Four vs. X-Men #4
This is a really great mini-series that sees Marvel continuing to experiment with new formats. So far, "event" mini-series, from Contest of Champions through Secret Wars II, have been really comprehensive, including a large swath of Marvel characters. Arguably, the Mephisto vs.... series that was also published this year falls into that category (although not quite). And then on the other end of the scale, you had the mini-series for characters like Gargoyle and Jack of Hearts, books that focused on individual characters. This series and X-Men vs. the Avengers, however, take a path down the middle and focus on a conflict between just two groups. Large enough to feel bigger than a character study, but not universe spanning events.
Like the Mephisto vs... and X-Men vs. the Avengers books, these were normal sized ~23 paged books, printed on higher quality paper and sold for $1.50 at a time when regular books were 75 cents and double-sized books and annuals were $1.25. The fourth issue is 32 pages for the same price.
It's notable that all three of these Versus mini-series featured the X-Men (who were just coming off of the X-specific Mutant Massacre event in their regular books as well), reflecting their popularity. And this series is written by Chris Claremont, the X-Men writer (the FF book was in a transitional phase at this point).
Claremont does a great job making this series at least seem important to the regular books. There is at least one tangible (pun intended) outcome: Kitty Pryde's injuries, inflicted during the Mutant Massacre, are cured and she is no longer stuck in phased form. Beyond that, the basic conflict between the two teams, even though it's resolved by the end of the series, should serve for future distrust (especially if Johnny Storm can't learn to be a little more politically correct). And for the FF specifically, Claremont teases an idea that, even though it's disproved, works great as permanent and retroactive subtext for Reed Richard's relationship with the rest of his team.
Things start with a precognitive dream from Franklin Richards. I should note that this series is drawn by Jon Bogdanove, who has been drawing Franklin's appearances in Power Pack, and his work on this series is really great. I love his Power Pack work but it had the tendency to get a bit cutesy. We don't see that here (except when appropriate).
Back to the dream. Except for Reed Richards, the Fantastic Four and X-Men are all dead, including a very gory Thing (in my trade reprint, the Thing's fleshy bits are more blood colored than the scan here).
Reed Richards then carries his dead wife up a flight of stairs, puts her on an altar, and pulls open a Journal from his days at State University, and then he becomes Dr. Doom.
I've long said that Dr. Doom was really just a Doombot created by Reed Richards, and there's your proof (subtext, people!).
Waking up, Franklin goes to his father for comfort, but his father is in the middle of an experiment and has no time for human emotional needs. Nice sequence showing Sue pulling Franklin away; her head on the monitor is a nice detail.
Just to head this off, note that the box there says Reed Richards c/o Avengers. This series may have been in the works for a while, but at the time of publication there's no way that the Fantastic Four were staying with the Avengers (since the make-up of the team includes Havok, who doesn't join the team until after Avengers Mansion is destroyed as we saw in Uncanny X-Men #219). The inclusion of She-Hulk in this story is explained away in the script (scans below from issues #1 and #4 respectively)...
...and it's easy enough to assume that the box was something that was sent to Reed at the Mansion but subsequently moved to their new building.
In fact, in the next scene Sue is shown unpacking, and the idea is probably that this includes items that have recently been moved from the Mansion. It's while unpacking that Sue finds the journal from Franklin's dream.
Franklin's reaction causes Sue to read the book, and doing so she learns that Reed Richards deliberately intended for their inaugural space flight to give them super-powers.
Meanwhile, on the X-Men side, we're reminded of the injuries that the X-Men sustained during the Mutant Massacre, especially Kitty's. And Longshot notices a fisherman that seemingly fell overboard, and rescues him.
At the same time, Magneto realizes that an experimental device created by Reed Richards might be the key to curing Kitty. So he heads to New York. Sending Storm or Dazzler might have been a better idea, since Magneto is still considered a super-villain by most of Marvel's heroes. But when he arrives in New York, he helps the Thing, She-Hulk, and the Human Torch deal with a gas main explosion (i think; the cause of the explosion actually isn't given)...
...and so he's given an audience and convinces Reed and the rest of the FF to go to Muir Island. Sue stays behind. She hasn't yet told the others about the journal, but everyone can see that something is up.
On the ride over, the Thing raises the question that leads to the idea that Claremont is raising with the journal. If Reed Richards is so smart, how could he have not taken the cosmic rays into account?
The question makes sense, but only due to the inflation of Reed's intelligence over the years. When FF #1 came out, Reed was smart, sure, but only in the way that all scientists in 1960s fiction were smart. Then, as time went on, Reed became smarter and smarter, first part of a group of Marvel super-scientists like Tony Stark and Henry Pym and lately really surpassing them, to the point where it's often said that Reed's real super-power is his intelligence. The one thing (another pun coming up) that was holding back his infallibility in the past was his inability to cure Ben Grimm, but John Byrne has more recently revealed that this was due to a psychological block on the Thing's side, not a problem with Reed's cures. So now we are ready to believe that Reed couldn't possibly have made a mistake, ever. (With that, let me plug my old guest post at Fanfix.)
Now, you'd think the problem presented by Reed's journal would be easy to resolve. We're privy to Reed Richard's thought bubbles...
...so either Reed knows the journal is fake or he's been living with this all along, so (at least for this visit with the X-Men) he can carry on as usual. But in fact the revelation has crippled him with indecision. He doesn't seem sure if he wrote the journal, and then later is sure the journal is a fake but nonetheless worries that he had subconscious intentions along the lines of what was written (which is interesting and allows for that subtext i mentioned, but nonetheless shouldn't present an immediate problem). Reed's uncharacteristic indecision can actually get a little hard to take as it progresses, although it obviously needs to last long enough for the series to have drama.
What's frustrating is that this series specifically references Fantastic Four #271, but only in the context of the appearance of Gormuu prior to the "accident" (?) that created the Fantastic Four. The idea is that the emergence of monsters in the Monster Age, plus early appearances by super-powered villains (it's not said which ones) is what triggered Reed to create the FF. The reason i say it's frustrating is because that issue also introduced the idea that Reed had gaps in his memories thanks to an early experience in the Negative Zone; it was the reason that Reed started trying to remember his past and we were told that story about Gormuu. Those memory gaps could also have been used to spread doubt about whether or not Reed actually wrote the diary. Instead, the "I didn't write it but maybe I thought something like that" feels a little bit like a sleight of hand.
When Reed gets out of the FF's plane, Wolverine takes a sniff and decides there's something he doesn't like about him.
Quite a contrast to Wolverine's assessment of Reed from Mephisto vs... #3 (which was not published yet, but which i've placed prior to this).
After examining Shadowcat, Reed decides that he's not able to cure her. That triggers an argument that begins with Magneto trying to commandeer Reed's device and escalates when the Human Torch calls Wolverine a "mutant bozo".
I'd complain that everyone's acting a bit 1970s by jumping directly into a fight, but obviously the stakes are really high since Kitty is just days away from discorporating, and the series title did promise us a "versus".
The situation gets worse when the Human Torch accidentally burns Storm while aiming for Wolverine.
There's a nice scene where Rogue absorbs the Thing's powers; "She thought she'd be attacking a toad. Instead, she's touched the soul of a prince."
The fight eventually ends, with Moira MacTaggert and Storm getting in between Mr. Fantastic and Wolverine. And that's when Longshot's "fisherman" turns out to be a Doombot.
Doom offers to do what Mr. Fantastic can't/won't.
Mr. Fantastic tries to convince the X-Men not to accept Doom's help but he's left them little choice and he not in a good state of mind anyway. When the FF get home, Sue tells the others about the journal.
Seems odd for She-Hulk to be present for this, regardless of when this book was meant to take place (but especially considering it has to take place after she's left the team). Maybe despite her pose, she's there to make sure it doesn't get ugly/violent.
As mentioned above, the journals says that after the Gormuu incident, and also thanks to the work of Charles Xavier, Reed decided to expose his friends to cosmic rays.
There's also an important revision to Reed's motivation for the FF's fateful rocket launch. It wasn't to beat the commies, but "so that mankind may meet any other starfaring race, not on the surface of our homeworld, but in the neutral territory of space".
This part isn't meant to be a revelation like the idea that Reed knew the cosmic rays would transform the FF. This is just a subtle updating of the FF's origin to deal with the sliding timescale. It's worth noting that according to the other people present, everything up until this point is in line with things that Reed had been saying prior to their rocket flight.
Now for the revelation:
The second issue ends with the Thing and the Human Torch leaving the FF's building, not sure if they'll return, while Reed's status with Sue is equally tenuous. You'll see in one of those panels above that Reed asks (rhetorically, but he's also full of self-doubt) if the journal is true, but he never strongly objects to the idea. As i've said above, it's a little hard to accept. Self-doubt only gets you so far; he should know whether or not he deliberately exposed his friends to cosmic radiation.
Meanwhile, the X-Men decide to accept Doom's offer. Doom starts things off by healing Storm's wounds. The rest of the X-Men get themselves into a little bit of trouble when Rogue sneaks off to town to buy some clothes and then gets attacked by robot guards, and the others join in the fight.
Claremont sets up a rivalry between Havok and Dazzler, with her fine-tuned laser being at least as effective as Havok's blasts.
Doom and Storm stop the fighting.
Meanwhile, Kitty Pryde decides that she doesn't want her teammates to get into a Faustian bargain with Dr. Doom because of her, so she will commit suicide by allowing her body to dissipate. But Franklin Richard's dream-self shows up and stops her. Lockheed alerts the rest of the group to what's going on.
Meanwhile, Reed continues to struggle with the revelation from the journal. Here is the shift from "did I write that?" to "did I subconsciously think the things that are written in the journal?".
The good news is that Sue sees Reed playing with Franklin and, with the exhibition of Reed's human side (which wasn't on display in that earlier scene with Reed and Franklin), decides that he couldn't have been the cold calculating person that wrote the journal.
The Thing, meanwhile, makes the staff of a Yancy Street bar nervous when he goes there "inna mood"...
...and contemplates his life. Claremont weighs in on whether or not the Thing could "be a man" with a woman.
Then, after leaving the bar...
...he rescues a child from a burning car and realizes there's value to him being the Thing.
Claremont also does some good work with the Human Torch. The fact that he accidentally burned Storm reminds us that the Torch has to keep his powers under strict control at all times.
This makes the revelation in the journal important to more than just the Thing. Johnny's powers are a kind of curse for him, too. Nonetheless, he likes being the Torch and considers it the greatest thing that ever happened to him, but he's ashamed to admit that.
The next morning, the FF members all return to tell Mr. Fantastic that they're still with him.
That doesn't just solve everything, though. Reed is still full of self-doubt, and the X-Men are not exactly predisposed to accepting help from him now. But they do decide to go to Latveria to help. Doom sees the FF arriving and tells the X-Men that they are there to stop him, so they go out and attack him. On the plane ride over, Johnny was showing some signs of growing up...
...but he's still, to be charitable, an undiplomatic hothead, so while he's initially relieved to see that Storm has been healed, he can't help eating a little crow from Magneto...
...and he quickly reverts back to his old self and starts throwing out the word "mutie" again.
I did like seeing the Thing knock out Wolverine with one bonk. This is a guy that once got knocked out by a glancing blow from the Hulk. The question of Wolverine being able to cut through the Thing's skin is ominous, though; we'll eventually find out the answer, but not in this series.
The fight continues until Franklin and Lockheed show up to stop them.
Before the FF landed, Reed was still thinking about the journal. Again note that he's wondering if perhaps he was thinking something similar to what was in the journal, instead of the more immediate question of how a journal that he knows he didn't write wound up in his wife's possession.
When Doom sees Reed carrying the journal with him, he thinks that it is an "unexpected surprise".
Now, it's interesting to see that Doom hadn't coordinated all of this to the point where the FF found the journal at the same time the X-Men needed help saving Kitty. As you see from Doom's holographic message to the X-Men further above, Doom was basically just spying on the X-Men in the aftermath of the Mutant Massacre when the need to save Kitty arose. Doom seemingly had no idea at the time that Reed was refusing to help due to the journal. So that's useful information.
At the same time, i think it was wrong to show thought bubbles for Doom here. It does confirm for us that the journal was planted by Doom, which was probably a necessity from the perspective of not allowing the (fake) revelation here to live on even as a possibility. But at the same time it shows Doom in all his petty evilness. I've always liked Doom a little more ambiguous; i don't like the idea that he might let Shadowcat die just to show up Reed. In his own mind he should be more noble.
We do see the human side of Doom when Reed notices a mistake in Doom's calculations regarding the solution for Shadowcat, in a deliberate parallel to the mistake Reed found in Doom's origin story. Doom initially refuses to accept that he made a mistake, but an appeal from Franklin causes him to reconsider.
The nature of the mistake causes Reed to have to manually perform advanced calculations in his head, and he seems to be able to do that while continuing to debate the journal.
Reed is still not sure if he really wrote it. Doom says the solution is to get Psylocke to read his mind.
This is presented as a critical point. The idea is that if Reed accepts he can never be sure of his own mind. And Psylocke might lie to him to keep him confident enough to save Kitty. So Reed refuses, and he and Doom go on to work together and save Shadowcat (although it will be a while before she's fully re-integrated).
Afterwards, Sue confronts Dr. Doom. She has worked out that he planted the journal.
What follows is the most Claremontian dialogue ever written.
But it ends with Sue declaring that they won, and no fight with Doom.
Meanwhile, Reed and Magneto make amends.
Overall, a really great story that devotes time to character studies for both teams and raises an interesting specter that i don't think fully goes away after this. The fact that Reed even thinks that he might have been capable of doing what the journal said he did here says a lot. For an event mini-series, this delivers in a lot of ways. Great art from Jon Bogdanove, although i mentioned that issue #4 seems to have been late and the art is rougher there at times.
Lots of nice character moments, for Franklin and Kitty, for Magneto, for the Thing and the Human Torch, and of course the resolution to a major plot point for the X-Men.
Regarding Franklin, his burgeoning powers are an important part of the story. There's also a point where it seems like he may be (subconsciously?) manipulating his mom. She didn't want to bring him to Doom's kingdom but she did it anyway because "it seemed somehow right".
It's interesting that, generally, the character focus is more on the FF side. There really wasn't a regular FF writer to be consulting with at this time, so Claremont was introducing ideas that were likely going to disappear after this mini-series (and indeed, when Steve Englehart takes over the FF, he retires Reed, Sue, and Franklin).
One thing this series doesn't do is take the opportunity to really compare Dr. Doom and Magneto. Both are, in their own ways, ambiguous villains, but for very different reasons. Dr. Doom is and always has been, by any objective measurement, a truly evil super-villain. But in his own head, he's sometimes depicted as a hero that wants to fix the world. Granted that means he has to take it over first. By contrast, Claremont has been developing Magneto down a path of reformation. Unlike Doom, Magneto has acknowledged that his past behavior has been, if not wrong, at least unhelpful ("I am the reason mutants are unjustly feared."). And his behavior has clearly changed lately. But at the same time he's doubting himself. There's a good scene here that leads directly to the events of X-Men vs. the Avengers (which seems to show evidence of rescripting).
But it might have been nice to see an explicit comparison between the way Doom is versus the way Magneto was.
This issue has female characters repeatedly winding up with torn clothes or completely nekkid. The worst is Sue blowing her own clothes off.
In the introduction to my trade, editor Ann Nocenti says:
There are countless little discussions that go into making a comic story. We had many about the "reality" of Doom, the FF, and the X-men hanging out together. About how "detailed" the "science" should get. One I remember centered around Sue Storm when someone pointed out that the women in this tale occasionally get their clothes blown off.
Of course there was nothing preventing Nocenti from allowing Claremont to write Sue as a strong character while stopping Bogdanove from drawing naked women. I don't agree with what Nocenti wrote and i still hold out hope that this kind of treatment of female characters is not an "inextricable" part of super-hero comics.
To end on a more geeky note, after Rogue's clothes are blown off, she switches to a shirt that recalls Ms. Marvel.
Quality Rating: A-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This has to take place after Havok joins the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #219 (he has brown hair in this story; i assume he's experimenting with a secret identity). Dr. Doom is still in control of Latveria, placing this before Fantastic Four annual #20. The MCP have this occurring during Fantastic Four #305, which leads directly into the annual. I'm placing it prior to FF #305, helping to explain why Crystal isn't around for this.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Fantastic Four versus X-Men trade paperback
Inbound References (12): show
Oh yes I love this mini series!
Posted by: davidbanes | March 21, 2014 2:53 PM
On the subject of Kitty/Franklin relations, Chris Claremont would have plans to introduce Kitty into the Fantastic Four title that were shot down despite her apparantly not being used in the X-titles at the time.
The "big sister" role was something he was planning to involve. Kind of makes me wonder what she'd have been like in the Future Foundation...
Posted by: Max_Spider | March 21, 2014 4:54 PM
I think the idea is that Reed thinks he deliberately exposed the FF to the cosmic rays, wrote the diary and repressed the memory.
Posted by: Michael | March 21, 2014 7:59 PM
It's a fun mini, and the artistic highlight of Bogdanove in my opinion. His later art seemed to become increasingly cartoonish, and not to the better. Terry Austin's inks probably help.
Claremont wrote a good story too, but the thing that ties everything together - whether the journal is real or not - was never convincing to me. The point FNORD12 discussed on the memory lapses would have completely ended that for me. We the readers needed to be given a believable explanation why Reed couldn't easily determine the journal was faked.
Claremont did a good job depicting the FF in battle. He could have easily played favorites with the X-Men, but he didn't.
Posted by: Chris | March 21, 2014 9:59 PM
On the subject of nudity in this miniseries, it is worth noting that the Human Torch had a several page nude scene in the 3rd issue. The 2nd part of the scene, where it is him sharing his feelings with Alicia is 'normal' enough. It is the middle of the night and they sleep together. But the first half of that scene has Johnny flying around the pier, buck naked, testing the control of his powers! Sure, its the middle of the night and his flame aura probably obscures his naughty bits from view...but, really, Johnny? *lol*
Although there is no denying that comic books have a significant history of drawing women in near-nudity and exploitative poses for purely gratuitous reasons, I think it is important to note that in superhero comics there IS valid reason for the characters (both male and female) to have clothes torn to shreds, burned away, etc.
Its true there are plenty of cases of female nudity or near-nudity in this miniseries, I'd say most of them make sense in the context. The main one that stands out as being a bit much is Sue's nude scene after shredding her own uniform out of anger. I realize that was a symbolic moment...but it was also the one that seems most gratuitous, imo. And, as I noted before, its not ONLY the women--in addition to Johnny's nude scene there is also a scene of Wolverine in his underpants venting his frustrations on some rocks; Longshot has a topless scene after his swim, etc. Not that the exploitation of women in comics isn't a real issue that needs to be addressed...but I don't think it is quite as out of balance in this particular miniseries as it is being made to sound.
Posted by: Dermie | March 21, 2014 11:40 PM
Kitty's also naked in those scenes with Franklin. Was all the nudity meant to be a bonus for the $1.50 price tag? It's pretty conspicuous.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 22, 2014 12:22 AM
Wolverine seems to end up nude pretty often too or nearly naked. Not a fan of the bear men to be honest.
I'm for both genders ended up naked equally rather than just one.
Posted by: David Banes | March 22, 2014 12:47 AM
Sounds good. Especially like the thing thumping wolverine. but i guess this was before woverine was elevated to galatus-like healing ability status.
the fight with reed and wolverine got me thinking. Can reeds stretchy form get cut? Has his skin ever been broken? If not i imagine wolverine would be completely ineffective against reed, since wolvie's one trick is edged weapons. He'd be the less effective guy against reed.
Posted by: kveto from prague | March 22, 2014 3:57 AM
At least once (in the "Revenge of the Living Monolith" graphic novel) Reed was shown to be capable of dampening the impact of several gunshots without being hurt while at it.
It looks funny and probably requires his conscious attention, though.
So yeah, Wolverine would be pretty ineffective. As he often would. For all his popularity, shorty is very limited far as superhero concepts go.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 22, 2014 4:59 AM
This mini was totally ruined for me by Reed's manufactured memory problem here. Gormuu issue or not, Reed is supposed to be the smartest guy in the MU, and, yes, he totally would remember if he wrote a journal or not. Wolverine's the one who got proven to have severe brain farts, not Reed. At the time, it just seemed to me that Claremont whipped this up just to make the X-Men look good by comparison. Johnny's "I must learn to CONTROL my flame!" sounded to me like something he should have already mastered a long time before, as well.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 22, 2014 1:51 PM
To be fair, Johnny was upset because he burned Storm, even though Logan was partly to blame for that. (Although Claremont did do something similar with Johnny in some of his FF issues.)
Posted by: Michael | March 22, 2014 2:07 PM
I find Rogue's shirt reminds me way more of that other company's Captain Marvel than it does of Ms Marvel.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | March 22, 2014 2:27 PM
Reed memory problems happened after his mind was hooked up to an alien machine in the Negative Zone in FF 256 and after he removed from it. The machine took some of his memories. It was a major plot points in the FF by J.byrne.
Posted by: A.Lloyd | March 31, 2014 1:21 AM
It'll take a few sentences before the relevance of this will be clear, but a few years ago, I cleared out my parents' home after they went into assisted living. In so doing, I came across a lot of my stuff that my parents saved, including many essays from my high school and college years. As I looked through this material many years after the fact, I thought "I don't remember writing any of that." So I don't find it improbable that Reed couldn't confirm that the journal was fake. (I assume it was typewritten. Surely he would have recognized his own handwriting.)
Posted by: haydn | May 4, 2014 12:00 AM
I'm not sure that Doom couldn't find a way to duplicate Reed's handwriting perfectly- he was able to duplicate Reed's writing style so well that Ben and Sue couldn't tell the difference.
Posted by: Michael | May 4, 2014 12:06 AM
As a teacher, I can generally recognize my students' handwriting when they forget to sign their work. Everyone's handwriting has quirks that are hard to duplicate. (I can still recognize Sam Rosen's lettering in a moment due to his florid J's). Sure, Doom is brilliant, but if clearer heads had prevailed, surely Sue or Ben would have recognized that the handwriting (assuming the journal was handwritten) wasn't Reed's. Of course, there was a lot of anger involved, the way the story developed, so mistakes certainly could have occurred.
Posted by: haydn | May 7, 2014 8:07 PM
"ignore the fact that the Doom that appeared in Uncanny X-Men #145-147 later turned out to be a Doombot."
Did the X-Men ever find out that the "Dr. Doom" they fought was a Doombot? If not, then as far as they were concerned, they did fight Dr. Doom.
Posted by: clyde | June 5, 2015 4:11 PM
Arcade told Colossus and Kitty in Uncanny X-Men #197.
Posted by: fnord12 | June 5, 2015 4:57 PM
Cholly the bartender appears to be one of Jack Kirby's many cousins.
Posted by: JP | June 5, 2015 6:34 PM
This was a great series - good characterization, great art, great fights. But it was also a little frustrating:
* - in spite of Kitty being healed, she won't be fully healed in time to rejoin the team before they "die" in Fall of the Mutants.
But still, those were a small price to pay for a pretty awesome series. It cost a lot more, but it was really worth it. But, between this and X-Men vs Avengers, not to mention three regular X books, it was clear that just keeping with the X-Men was soon going to become very expensive.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 16, 2015 12:11 PM
Can anyone explain what the energy beam coming from She-Hulk's scrap of torn clothes in the scene where they're talking to Magneto on the roof in issue #1? It's driving me nuts!
Posted by: Josh | May 28, 2016 10:50 AM
It's just smoke. On the page before, she's helping hold up the building while standing in a fire in her civilian clothes. In the scene you're referring to, she's been given a coat to cover up and she's holding the remains of her smoldering clothing.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 28, 2016 10:55 AM
Wow, fast reply! I just came back here to ask "It's not just smoke is it?" But you beat me to it. I guess the color of it threw me off. Thanks.
Posted by: Josh Gelman | May 28, 2016 11:23 AM
I see Johnny's nude scene has already been mentioned. As said in that post, the nudity and sexual objectification was done for both genders in this series, the way it should be.
As for the address in the boxes, way I see it, there are a lot of things the FF still have to unpack after moving to Four Freedoms Plaza. So the explanation you got seems totally right.
Posted by: Cesar Hernandez-Meraz | September 28, 2016 10:11 AM
Marvel had some strange ways of trying to expand the market. Claremont got his characters naked as often as possible, but this was weird, especially since nothing was seen. Would have been the easiest thing in the world to have Rogue or Sue showing everything off - or Johnny, if you're into that - but... What?
Posted by: ChrisW | September 29, 2016 1:38 AM
Shouldn't this take place before Reed says he and Sue are leaving in FF 304?
Posted by: J-Rod | April 28, 2017 5:07 PM
The problem is that the FF know that Franklin can astral-project in this story. Reed, Ben and Sue find that out in FF 301 while Johnny and Alicia are on their honeymoon and they don't return until FF 304. Then the end of FF 305 leads into the Annual where Doom loses control of Latveria to Kristof. So this story has to either take place between FF 304 and 305, or during FF 305. The FF changed editors and writers around this time, so it wasn't coordinated very well with the FF.
Posted by: Michael | April 28, 2017 7:49 PM
That definitely makes sense. It's funny, but I just read this for the first time last week, and it feels like more FF than X-Men, story-wise. Fun story, but it seems weird to me that it was written by the X-Men writer and not coordinated with the FF office (for totally valid reasons) yet works better for the FF than for the X-Men. I think the X-Men don't come off very well here, but then again, it sort of fits with Claremont's whole thing of the X-Men reeling from crisis to crisis and making bad decisions (hey, let's be friends with Doom!) left and right that's going on in that title right now.
Posted by: J-Rod | May 1, 2017 11:22 AM
It's definitely far more of an FF story than an X-Men story. The X-Men's role is really specific to where they were at the moment - post-Massacre, Kitty's fatally wounded unless someone saves the day - but the FF story could have been done anywhere at any time. I would assume Claremont had the idea during countless Marvel Bullpen bull sessions where someone asked 'how could the world's smartest man forget to account for radiation?' This is especially true given what we know now, that NASA wasn't entirely convinced the moon was made of rock, or that the Apollo astronauts wouldn't encounter some hideous monster.
Supporting my theory that Claremont actively developed as many ideas as possible, he would possibly 'game out' every possible interaction the X-Men might have with any other Marvel character in case a crossover happened, and what he could do with those other characters. This may also have had the unintended effect of keeping the X-Men from meeting anybody but Claremont characters for most of his last 100 issues. So if Marvel's looking for a prestige format miniseries and want to use the X-Men, he's got Kitty's problems to set up a Reed vs. Doom comparison with awesome character moments.
Johnny and Alicia are one of my favorite scenes of all time, and the Reed/Sue/Franklin interactions in #1 and #3 not far behind.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 1, 2017 8:21 PM
The Franklin scenes can be too cutsey, and the Kitty/Franklin scenes are nice-but-awkward. [Kitty only noticed Franklin because she was looking around to take in one last sunrise? She didn't hear Lockheed screeching right behind her?] But if nothing else, I love Bogdanove's depiction of Franklin being zipped through Four Freedom's Plaza and the accompanying captions: 'Sometimes having a mom who can create invisible moving forcefields is the most wonderful thing in the world, even when she's a bit mad at you.'
Posted by: ChrisW | May 1, 2017 8:25 PM
Definitely lots of good character moments for the FF here. I agree that Franklin zipping through the penthouse was a highlight. I also liked that She-Hulk tagged along; she's by far my favorite "replacement" FF member, and one of my favorite Avengers, so I really like seeing her pop up here and there. Fun character, even if she doesn't get a WHOLE LOT to do here.
Overall a fun FF story, and a less-fun X-Men story. Though I think the most important development, Kitty's life being saved, is totally glossed over. It's like, Doom is sciencing, then Reed says "Wait, but science!" Then, more sciencing. Then, hours later, happily ever after. Like, what?
Posted by: J-Rod | May 2, 2017 10:23 AM
Also, how in the hell does Ben stop hating Reed for turning him into the Thing supposedly on purpose? He didn't have the silly moment of "such a good dad couldn't have written this" that Sue had, so what gives? Was my Essential X-Men missing a page here?
Posted by: J-Rod | May 2, 2017 10:25 AM
I assume Shulkie was there to both make the FF look less outmatched and to give them someone to exposit to. Magneto's the only one who gets any real exposition time and that has more to do with his being reformed than anything else. But I agree it was nice she was included.
No, Ben didn't really have a reason to stop hating Reed, other than the generic 'being the Thing is sometimes helpful to others.'
Posted by: ChrisW | May 2, 2017 7:38 PM
That should read "Magneto's the only X-Man who gets..."
I've said it many times before, but I love how fair Claremont played between the two teams. Wolverine, of all people [mutants] is unconscious after Ben gives him a bonk on the head. "Who would win in a fight between these two characters" can be answered by "whoever the writer wants to win" but this is Claremont's Wolverine, and the result is "Sweet dreams, bub" with a helpful PAT PAT PAT sound effect.
Posted by: ChrisW | May 2, 2017 9:08 PM
I think Thing playing Whack-a-Mole with Wolverine is my favorite fight moment in the series. And yes, it is nice that Claremont played fair. I'm reading X-Men vs. Avengers right now (a much rougher read) and I don't think Stern is playing very fair. He's being pretty clear in establishing the X-Men as the "bad guys" of the piece, and making sure they run from pretty much every fight. I'm glad these two series came out around the same time, because it makes for a really good comparison exercise.
Posted by: J-Rod | May 3, 2017 9:51 AM
"Playing fair" also include Rogue kissing Ben. For her, it's just standard using her powers. For Claremont, it's finding a good way to set up parallels between the two. For Ben, it's showing that he exists on an exalted level that none of Claremont's characters - except possibly Storm, Kitty, Betsy, Dani, etc. - can ever reach without significantly lowering the bar. Even as wonderful a character as Rogue is brought to tears by what she finds in this war hero/test pilot/pile of rock.
Storm is only there to be the X-Men's leader, make the decisions and handle the high-level negotiations with Doom. She doesn't take an active part. Even Kitty seems a bit out-of-character, although being so close to death, it's believable she's not entirely herself.
Maybe it's just my interpretation, but very little of Kitty's behavior in the series really reminds me of the character she's always been. Her 'you creep' monologue to Doom is about it as far as "classic" Kitty goes. Her suicide attempt reads like a surrender on her part rather than any sort of defiance of doom or protection of the X-Men, and anyway is just an excuse for Franklin to cry and be cute. Dancing with Franklin makes for a good ending, but she's 15 and naked, and he's 5. Really?
Posted by: ChrisW | May 3, 2017 10:01 PM
Re: Kitty's suicide attempt- that's a classic Claremont trope- female character suffers a loss, considers suicide and is comforted by a man. We saw that with Storm considering suicide after losing her powers and being comforted by Forge in Lifedeath and we'll see it with Maddie considering suicide in issue 223 and being comforted by Alex.
Posted by: Michael | May 3, 2017 10:28 PM
Yes, nice touch on the Rogue/Ben kiss.
Yeah, I definitely found the naked Kitty/astral Franklin dance to be super-creepy.
I don't see Franklin's comforting Kitty during her suicide attempt as part of the same trope at all. He's not a man, he's a child. There's a huge difference. And he's not comforting her, he's wailing in despair, and it reminds her of the consequences of the actions she's about to take. YMMV, but I definitely don't see it as remotely the same thing as Forge with Storm or Alex with Maddie.
Posted by: J-Rod | May 4, 2017 10:46 AM
I agree with J-Rod that the 'female suicide stopped by a man' doesn't work as a trope here, considering it's teenage Kitty being stopped by a crying little boy. That said, Claremont had some tropes that he almost never used, yet still hit like anvils. This series had Reed being forever destroyed if he dared to let Betsy read his mind to discover the truth. "New Mutants" #50 had Doug being forever destroyed if Xavier read his mind to help him destroy Magus. As far as I know, those are the only two times Claremont used the trope, but they hit with all the weight of repetitive cliches. Never ask for help in an imminent crisis, or you will fail forever, never mind that everything might be destroyed if you don't ask for help.
Anyway, I don't think the Franklin/Kitty scenes meet the 'female suicide stopped by a man' trope, I do think Kitty's out of character for almost the entire series, and to the extent she is in character, she's limited by the FF characters being more important than the X-Men, almost by definition. Humans, eh?
Posted by: ChrisW | May 4, 2017 9:17 PM
Responding to Haydn's comment from 2014, I'm recovering my old work and I can confirm that I've found a lot of stuff I really don't remember writing. I know I did it, but if a supervillain with a halfway-plausible scheme could prove that it was someone else, I'd be the first to shrug and go 'if you say so.'
And how the hell does a Doombot recognize Sharon? Did Doombots make intricate studies of nurses who suddenly changed ethnicities and quit their jobs to work for a strange private school and then suddenly decided to cross the Atlantic? Even worse, what if Doombots actively track those kinds of details? A supervillain with a halfway-plausible scheme could accomplish anything.
Posted by: ChrisW | March 7, 2018 12:37 AM
You might forget an essay you knocked off about Wuthering Heights in 1994, but I think you would remember deliberately sending your friends through a cosmic storm, just to see what happens.
I remember reading Claremont in an interview saying that he put himself forward to write the Fantastic Four, but Marvel wanted him to stick with mutants (Englehart got the job instead).
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | March 15, 2018 3:25 PM
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