Re-reading the Fantastic Four comics from the start. The last two issues gave us encounters with the Hulk and the Avengers, so let’s keep the crossover train rolling in issue #27, with an appearance by a certain sorcerer supreme.
The issue begins with a real attention-getter. Reed is experimenting with his image projector, creating a hologram of Sue in a swimsuit (phroar!). After more horsing around with the device, Reed reveals to Ben and Johnny that he’s going to go shopping for an engagement ring for Sue (Hey-o!).
Elsewhere, way down in Atlantis, we’re reunited with Namor the Submariner, who is still obsessing over Sue. He gathers together some Atlantean warriors and asks them to invade the surface world and abduct Sue. The warriors renege, and leave Namor alone, again. Not long after, Namor shows up at the Baxter Building in disguise, using his strength and a convenient gas gun to take out Reed, Ben and Johnny. Alone with Sue, Namor pledges his love, saying he’d give up his empire and his birthright for her. When she relents, Namor shows his “love” by gassing her into unconsciousness and abducting her.
Reed comes back from ring shopping to learn that Sue is gone. He flips out, and starts using all his high-tech equipment to search for Namor. He swears that this time, he’s going after Namor alone. Ben and Johnny hold a powwow, and agree that they should find Namor first, before Reed does anything rash. Johnny has an idea, and uses his flame for some skywriting, putting a message for Dr. Strange across the sky.
As Reed leaves the Baxter Building aboard his personal helicopter (!?!), Dr. Strange, master of the mystic arts, arrives in his ghostlike astral projection form. While insisting that his powers may only be used against evil, Strange reluctantly agrees to help. Strange’s magic amulet leads him to Atlantis, as he thinks, “This is a far cry from battling the sinister, mysterious menaces of the world of black magic.”
Namor, still not quite getting how the whole “suitor” thing works, has Sue trapped inside a cage, asking for 24 hours to convince her to love him. Reed arrives via his personal submarine (what happened to the helicopter?), able to breathe thanks to a pill he’s invented, and he attacks Namor. Strange sees this, and decides to return to Ben and Johnny to tell them. Reed puts up a good fight, until the Atlantean warriors return, having had yet another change of heart, and they take Reed hostage.
At the Baxter Building, Dr. Strange helps out by teleporting Ben and Johnny directly to Atlantis. The rest of the issue is one big fight, as Ben and Johnny take on the Atlanteans while Reed and Namor continue to duke it out. Just as it looks like Namor has the upper hand, about to kill everyone with a huge undersea cannon, Sue deflects the blast with a force field, ending the fight. She tells Namor that Reed is the only man for her.
Dr. Strange is watching all this from a crystal ball. Somehow knowing that no woman has ever before rejected Namor, and that Namor’s rage will be out of control, Strange immediately teleports the FF back into Reed’s sub (Why didn’t he do this to begin with?). The issue ends ambiguously, as Reed is uncertain whether Sue meant what she said, or if she was merely bluffing.
Unstable molecule: Reed goes all out in fighting Namor, using his powers in a bunch of wild ways including stretching into the shape of a giant bow, firing Namor like an arrow at his own soldiers!
Fade out: Sue is stuck in the unfortunate position of being the “prize” two men are fighting over. She is the one who puts an end to the chaos, though.
Clobberin’ Time: There an interesting bit where the Atlanteans fire electronic rays at Ben, only to have his body absorb the energy and then use it against them. You can bet I’ll be looking to see if he ever uses this ability again.
Flame on: Johnny does a lot during the big fight, blinding the Atanteans, destroying a flying probe, and fusing the walls into a barrier to keep a passage from flooding. It’s also his passionate speech about preventing Reed from killing Namor that encourages Dr. Strange to join the cause.
Trivia Time: Dr. Strange was appearing the appropriately-titled Strange Tales at the time, making this a convenient bit of cross-promotion. Strange lets loose with three of his classic incantations this issue, “by the power of Vishanti,” “the visionary vapors of the dread Dormammu,” and, as always, “the hosts of Hoggoth.”
Fantastic of frightful: Dr. Stange’s appearance is kind of a throwaway, but I like that Reed is pushed so far that he’s actually considering killing Namor. I also like how hard and brutal the fight between them is. It’s not just good guys versus bad guys, it’s personal. It’s broad and over-the-top, yet somehow it makes Reed feel more flawed, more human.
Next week: It just wouldn’t be a crossover without any mutants!
Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.