Last issue, Counter Earth Reed Richards joined the Frightful Four and captured the FF. He launches them into the Negative Zone.
In this Negative Zone tale, Reed loses his powers and has to team up with Annihilus. It’s actually very cool. And I love the above panel. It makes me think of the Sistine Chapel.
Anyway, the two mortal enemies figure out that they need to team up…
…Sue figures out that she’s been hugging the wrong stretcho…
…And Impossible Man is useless because he’s discovered TV.
In the end, Counter-Earth Reed sacrifices himself to save “real” Reed, who is now depowered.
One of the cool things about Jonathan Hickman’s recent Fantastic Four run was his use of all the alternate reality Reed Richardses. Hickman made each alternate Reed have a distinct personality, but all of them were shades of the same Reed. (Peter David has played with similar personality issues in his brilliant portrayals of Madrox in X-Factor over the past six-plus years.) If Hickman didn’t consciously crib from this storyline, and the “Fifth Dimension” storyline, then I’ll eat my hat.
Finally, some real life politicians respond to the crisis:
NYC Mayor Abe Beame and three Presidents. Carter is eating peanuts, Gerry has a band-aid and Reagan mentions another actor. What is this, Mad Magazine?
In the aftermath of their return from the Negative Zone, the team learns from Agatha Harkness that Franklin has been kidnapped.
But first, there’s a lot of clean up to do.
And the team fights a Mad Thinker robot called “The Eliminator.” That’s right, a villain named like a suppository. But that’s not what’s important. What matters is that the book is getting back to basics. Although there are quite a few hanger-ons at this pont (Impossible Man, Thundra, Tigra), the core of this title has always been family: Relationships, the things families do together, the things they do to each other…And the sequence above is a grand illustration of an enormous family bugaboo: Chore day!
Here’s how Thing sweeps things under a run…
See, that’s how you know the book was getting its groove back. Although there was still quite a few examples of villain recycling, at least Thomas and Perez were doing something fresh with the characters and concepts by developing the whole alternate Earths thing and reinjecting intimacy and humor. Oh, and staying away from Tragic Ben stories. Those had become pure torture by now.
The book would never return to the anything-goes, constant creativity of the first 100 issues—but what books have ever achieved that kind of originality, issue after issue? None, really.
The kidnapping story is the next arc.