Sunday, March 6, 2011
Fantastic Four #326
Fantastic Four 326-“The Illusion”
Cover Date May 1989 Price $.75
Writer/ Artist-John Harkness/ Keith Pollard
Cover Tagline: “The New EVIL F.F.- The Frightful Four!"
Number of issues since last box pull: 5
What Happened: Our story opens with a shot of Reed and Sue Richards walking arm-in-arm through a snowy landscape. Though the heroes are not a part of the active Fantastic Four team, they're both wearing their FF costumes and discussing the recent "Inferno business." This leads me to believe that they just got done taking part in an ill-conceived Marvel line wide event. As the two chat about how they enjoy staying with the Avengers, Reed expresses his need to do more with his time. Having a brilliant mind, Reed isn't content sitting around with his dolt of a wife and their young son Franklin, who honestly acts a bit childish for his father's tastes. Sue tells Reed that he can go run off and play mad scientist, but that he's not allowed to interfere with the current Fantastic Four's adventures. After all, Reed promised to butt out of Ben's affairs back in issue 317.
Reed rockets away in a shuttle, thinking about how Sue somehow treats him like a child, and how she can be such a big doody head. As stretcho contemplates his situation, he correctly ponders the fact that he's pretty dang old for a superhero, so using his brain is really his greatest asset to the world at large. In other words, he wants to run the FF again because he's smarter than Ben.
Arriving at Four Freedoms Plaza (not a shameless plug I swear), he finds he can't get in with his normal keycard. Questioning the malfunctioning security, Reed stretches his skin into the same shape as the key that would be necessary, and proceeds to pick the lock.
Apparently the "super genius" doesn't realize he could just do this everytime and therefore doesn't need to carry a key at all. Entering the building, Reed is shocked to find the security defenses he designed are trying to kill him. Let's watch:
As the threat dies down and our hero is stretched a mile long, the current Fantastic Four team enters the room. Ever the gracious host, Ben Grimm proceeds to mock Reed's deadly situation, calling his stretched-out best friend "spaghetti on speed." Reed replies that he believes that a
"certain current leader" of the Fantastic Four has not been properly maintaining the building, and that Ben's momma is so fat that she has her own zip code. Cut him some slack in the humor department, he's a really old scientist. The team and Reed head to the control room, and old man Richards is dismayed to find his security protocols have not been followed.
Reed's attention then turns to Johnny, who is more flaming than ever (please feel free to read into that sentence what you will). Johnny explains that during the "Inferno" he pushed his powers to the max, and he hasn't been able to "flame-off" since. Reed tells him he could take a look, and Johnny blows him off. Ben also tells him to leave, because he's got everything under control. Thankfully Ms. Marvel (still in rocky form) vouches for Reed and he invites himself to stay. Reed's not very subtle when it comes to wresting control back from loved ones.
As Reed so slyly usurps Ben's position, we jump over to the ever villainous Wizard, whose pontificating about ways to finally conquer his foes in the FF. Apparently Wizard feels that his time for victory has come because Reed Richards didn't design his defenses with computer viruses in mind.
As the Wizard walks through his layer, we as readers are introduced to the NEW and "improved"Frightful Four, consisting of Wizard, Hydro Man, Klaw, and Titania. As each of the villains flaunts his/her recent backstory in a deluge of exposition, Klaw reveals that the time is right to finally attack.
Jumping back to Four Freedoms, Sue and Franklin arrive and greet their family. Sue pulls Ben aside for a bit of "girl talk", and Reed prepares a machine that will de-flame Johnny. Now who's playing god, Reed? Anyway, it wouldn't be an 80's Fantastic Four comic with a completely insane head scratching moment, so we catch up with some of the Frightful Four as they enact their plan. Klaw uses a sound frequency to turn on all the machines at a nearby construction site while Titania pretends to be a street performer outside of Four Freedoms Plaza.
I'm not sure if this was essential to the Wizard's plan, or he just wanted to secretly laugh at Titania. Either way, the Frightful busts into Four Freedoms Plaza just as Johnny gets in the machine. The two teams duke it out, and the dialogue is simply outstanding:
The issue ends with Reed's machine getting blowed up real good, the Torch de-flamed, and most shockingly of all, Ben Grimm in his human form! Man I can't believe no one's ever used that plot before!
What I thought: I started writing this synopsis on February 5th. It is now March 3rd. That's how little interest I had in even approaching this issue. I couldn't even find the strength to make fun of it to my full abilities. I actually really like the Frightful Four as a concept, although I wish it was composed of more "heavy hitters." I think if Marvel could find a storyline that serviced more top-tier villains coming together, the idea of an evil Fantastic Four would be intriguing. Instead we get Hydro Man, who will inevitably be evaporated. All-time spoiler alert.
So in lieu of really tackling the storylines, I'll just ask one question: Why in the world did Klaw start all the engines of the machines at the construction site? Will this come into play next issue? Was this scene cut out from the story before print? How can that be the one major point of contention I have with this issue? UGH. Guys, this was brutal. Until Klaw remote starts my car for me on a cold morning, viva la fantastique!