Fantastic Four#222- The Possession of Franklin Richards!
Cover Date: Sept. 1980 Price $.50
Writer: Doug Monech Artists: Bill Sienkiewicz and Joe Sinnott
Story: This issue opens with Reed inviting his young son Franklin to go to the library. Franklin says no thanks, and that he'd rather stay at the Baxter Building and play games with his mom, the Invisible Woman. The Thing enters and tells the gang that since Johnny is gone for the day, he is going to catch a movie. The stage is set, and everybody's got something to do, and it's all so productive.
Meanwhile, in quite a change of scenery, a demon named Nicholas Scratch is trapped in a dark dimension. Banished there by his mother Agatha Harkness, Scratch is pulled to a place where he feels energy escaping the dark place. He finds a small rift in the dark place that is connected to the Earth. The only catch? The rift is connected to the Earth through the Negative Zone, which is another dimension that the Fantastic Four discovered. They have the doorway to the Negative Zone in their house, can you all see where this is going?
Sue and Franklin are playing hide and seek in the Baxter Building, and Sue is actually setting a really bad example by cheating. She turns herself invisible and follows her son around, just to watch him and think.Sue reflects on the fact that because of her and Reed's irradiated blood, their son manifests powers in times of stress. That's why his babysitter, Agatha Harkness, has been taking care of him away from the Baxter building. As Franklin is looking for his cheater of a mother (I should get over that, but it's an official abuse of her fantastic powers....but I guess if I could turn invisible I would do a lot worse), he looks in the room with the Negative Zone portal, and is possessed by Scratch's mental powers, which are coming through the above mentioned rift.
Sue flips out and shoots the Fantastic Four flare (the FF's answer to a bat signal) out the window, and Reed, Ben, and Johnny all rush back to the scene. This was before cell phones and teleporters, so Ben takes a cab, Johnny flies away from his race car (subsequently forfeiting his race), and Reed creatively catches a ride with a news helicopter.
The team assembles and finds Frankie there possessed and destroying stuff. Reed sends Johnny to get Dr. Strange, and so he flies to the Doc's house. The Doc is out, but his assistant Wong is home and asks if he can help. Johnny brushes off Wong and readers everywhere are forced to have pity on the assistant for a number of reasons. Johnny comes back and tells Reed the Doctor's out, and they realize they can just take Frankie to see Agatha, because she's a witch and she can deal with crazy situations like this.
They take Frankie to see Agatha, and they all decide to have a seance (!!!????) to figure out the problem. A dude named Gabriel intervenes, having found out about the situation from an informant that was watching Dr. Strange's house. Gabriel recognizes the Demon, and Scratch identifies himself in a moment straight out of the Exorcist. The issue ends with Scratch telling the FF they can only get their son back if they take the body to the town of New Salem, so Scratch can escape. He has the team right where he wants them, because only he can re open the portal to the Negative Zone and free Frankie.
Thoughts: This story had everything going for it, until the seance part. Stuff like that creeps me out in comics. It's just not a very heroic course of action, in my opinion. I'd like to think the FF could do better than that. But overall, this story is tightly paced, and although many of the things that happen to move the story forward (such as Ben walking out on the movie early cause it was so bad just as the Fantastic Flare was in the air) were convenient, they were at least logical. The art in this book was really well done. Sienkiewicz and Sinnott are modern day legends of the comic book industry, so no surprise there.